Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2008
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Poems on this Page:

The Doe

by Susan B. Auld
Her face peered at me through tall grass
and we held our breath, 
still-lives in dappled light,
not sure of the other 
curious-wonder at meeting at all.

I spoke calming 
she listened
I stepped passing
she stood still.

We held each other with our eyes 
and slow danced 
at the edge of the golden woods
on an orange October morning.

The moon and sun watched 
as the south wind brushed past the north 
to warm the day
midnight frost trickled 
sliding off the brittle leaves swirling.

I moved away.
I felt her follow.
And, when I looked back 
she pressed closer   stopped    closer 
before crossing the gravel path
before leaping through the grass,
her white tail held high.

I watched her become the trees.


by David McKenna

The Crime

by David (Szpejnowski) Spencer
(in honor of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn &
One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich)

A broken man was plodding through the snow - 
the Russian snow might turn to slush, in spring. 
Frozen fingers clutched a loaf of bread - 
a ragged trouser leg was stiff with blood. 
He made his way through rocks, and streams, and forest - 
crawled to a shabby lean-to in the mud. 
The broken tool shed, rusted filled with snow, 
a frozen fortress for the frozen dead.

Autumn Rain

by Mark Hudson
September 13, 2008:
The rainiest day in the history of Chicago
September 14, 2008:
A continuation of the same
On Sunday morning I went to church
With Matt and another friend.
I met Matt originally when we were
Both slaving away at Evanston theatre on Central,
Which is now just a pile of rubble.
We got out of the car. The rain
Was pouring down, producing puddles.
Matt bust out a huge umbrella. "I got
This from my grandmother," he said.
"Mighty generous of her," I commented.
(The topic of the sermon was generosity.)
"I don't tend to like umbrellas. They are
Rather cumbersome to carry."
"I see you are busting out the big words,"
Matt replied. "Cumbersome? Sounds like
Cucumber." "Or" said I, "Cumberbuns.
Did you work at the movie theatre when
We had to wear cumberbuns? It was
Completely embarrassing. They would
Make you wear a costume. People I
Went to high school with would come
In and laugh." "That's painful." Matt agreed.
"Or," I responded, "Like that movie
Where a man worked at a chicken
Restaurant, and he had to deliver chicken
Dressed up as a chicken. People would
Laugh." It's amazing the conversations
That can occur under an umbrella. Rain
Ruins potential picnics, under the
Guidance of Global warming grandiosity.
Billions of basements bear brunt of
People putting pails to the plunging
Of pouring puddles pilfering patches
Of paranoia, wishing the weatherman
Wouldn't waste wiping of windows
Which welcome well-wishers to the
Wet and Wild wonderland of Rain-
Soaked Realms, revealing radical
Remnants of Notorious Noah, needing
No negativity from nearby neighbors,
Simply setting sail on seas of
Starting over, sending sinners struggling
Below the billowing bubbles of bottomless
Blue, Accepting animals as all right
Advocators of an average creature
Containing care-free conditions and
Categorized as carrying no concern
For correction. Meanwhile, the majority
Of mankind meanders into the mess
Of mortality, sinking surface of slime
Sucking souls into some sort of
Second struggle. The perils of purgatory
Perpetuate people preparing to participate
In potential purposeless presence.
Animals and God's chosen sail off into
superb sunsets, propelled by premonitions
Of future floods following the failure of
Flocks to finally feel the fury of a
Fed-up founder of all creation.

Fall Approaches

by John E. Slota
Flowers Fade.
Fiery Brilliance
Quenched By Autumn's Frost.
Falling Forward,
Drawn Toward Earth By Unseen Forces.
Spent Seeds To Shelter Hasten,
Announcing Summer's Dénouement.

The Carousel

by Bonnie Manion
carries taut equestrian limbs
in furious flight, a horse race
frozen in time, where carved
nostrils permanently flare, painted
teeth are forever bared, panting
wooden necks always reach, airborne
legs strain and breach, their speed
and freedom captured in music--
a mirrored, gilded, glorious ride
gone in an instant

(First published in Limestone Journal)

Presidential Choices

by Farouk Masud
Take a good look--there is no choice!
Slick slogans within the same banner;
They all speak with one deceptive voice;
Politricking in a similar manner.
Where's the next Kennedy or Eisenhower?
They were real men with backbones.
God, please give us another Carter!
To break them, you needed more than sticks and stones.
I try to remain optimistic and hope
We might get a bunch of new, good prospects,
Candidates that have never tried dope;
In recent years, they've looked more like suspects.
We don't need another Truman:
The first "friend" of the zionist lobby;
Writing foreign policies with their guiding pen
And giving away an entire country. 
We don't need another Ronald:
Higher gas prices and tax breaks to the rich;
A real mcsellout clown like McDonald;
A poor actor playing the role of witch.
We don't need another Bill:
He "is" preoccupied with Monica;
Watching genocides with sadistic thrill
In Bosnia, Sudan and Chechnya.
Oh my God!  Where shall I begin with Bush?
"Mission accomplished!" and "Bring it on!"
Words blurted under a cocaine and oil rush--
Was he in on the 9-11 con?  
We need a smart commander in chief:
Someone who will guard social security,
Cure our contagious health care grief,
Reduce the deficit and fix the economy.
We need a brave and wise president:
Someone who will bring an end to the war;
Not a misfit who causes dissent--
Please tell me what our boys and girls are dying for.
Again, we'll get a tyrant that acts casual,
A man so corrupt he'd sell his own mother;
Election results will be the same as usual:
Out with one bastard and in with another.

The Marriage Union of You and Me

by Sandra M. Bringer
A dark prison this be,
the marriage union of you and me.
In hellfire we dwelled for many a year,
now separate,
we count the hours,
remorsefully pray to higher powers.
We hide from one another
in distant fortified towers.

Licking our wounds,
armed to the teeth with regret and spite,
we guard our hearts,
try to stay the final fight.
It's gone on too long all would agree.
The parting hour is at hand.
We've but to sign the divorce letters
for our union to officially disband.

Which of us will sound the final round?
Say its over,
walk away forever
legally announce 
I want to see you never?
We've but to walk through the divorce gate
friends' state.
Start new lives before it's too late!

No more chances to say I'm sorry.
No way to make amends.
Who'd have thought we'd come
to such an unhappy end.
Why the hesitation?
This marriage has no breath,
proclaim its sad death!
We did our best.  We guess.

Silent we wait,
gnawing our lips, eyes burning, unable to swallow the grief.
The decision's been made. 
Yet, we tremble at the morrow.
Our lives we've undone,
the sorrow haunts.
 Does the mourning ever end?
A dark prison this be,
the marriage union of you and me.


by Susan T. Moss
Ultimately we go where
we need to go and do
what is required
to call it a day.

All that whining,
recrimination, soul-searching
proclaim efforts to change
personal comforts,
while time ticks

into another fear, another regret -
an attempt to become
the shoulds and oughts
and mold something
beyond our experience
that's better, grander -
more noble than everyday life
spun out in dirty laundry,
scarce parking places

or curdled milk left too long
at the back of the refrigerator
in a gray weathered house we call home.


by Patricia Gangas
I am a March woman, a wild gazelle, 
bringing news to you of spring.
The winter storms have left
giving way to glinting gardens, the smell of fragrant days.
O, love, did you create me---or was it I
who formed you in the thickets of my verse?
Yet, here in this quiet place we share, love's ecstasy
sings through our spirits out of mind.
We surrender to the winds, swaying in the glow of life.
I found you, my twin, thick with veins of mystery
that flow in and out of God's bosom.
Now, beneath the blankets of the moonless mornings
my mind's  heart blazes with fire
coloring grass and sky
stirring my will to transcendent flames—
my love to twilit temples.

Jade Buddha Temple, Bangkok

by William Marr

on a smoky summer day
waiting for the arrival
of the Water-Splashing Festival

yet inside the gilded temple
my heart is cool
as a white porcelain Kwan Yin*
when I see
a little girl's devoted hands
gilding an idol
while at the same time putting
a sweet smile
on her own face

* Kwan Yin: Bodhisattva and Goddess
of Mercy and Compassion


by William Vollrath

Until Next Time

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
On my way back home
from our Chinmaya Mission Center
there lies a beautiful
wooded area
with well stocked fishing lakes
carefully controlled 
herds of deer,
nicely cut grass meadows and
picnic spots with shelters and 
drinking water outlets.

Chicago's lovely mild weather
of late-afternoon summer day
tempted me to go to the forest preserve
to relax in solitude.

When I was about to leave home
my friend started following uninvited.
When all my efforts failed
to dissuade him
I agreed to take him along
on the condition that he should
neither argue nor bother me
begging with baleful eyes and grumpy face
to take him here, there and somewhere.

Sitting on the bank,
I started throwing small pebbles into the lake.
The ripples on the water reminded me 
of my boyhood days and 
school-going youthful pranks.
Freshly cut grass tempted me to rest
lying flat on my back.
When I woke up and looked around
nowhere could I find my friend.
Only then I realized my folly
in allowing this scapegrace to come with me.

Early evening faint light
is approaching fast and 
I should hurry and locate my friend soon.
Certainly he was hiding somewhere
not far from me.

Let me catch hold of him first
I would teach this shadow-friend of mine 
a lesson
he would never forget
until next time?

Crab Rangoon

by Wilda Morris
She looks like a model,
so thin, so straight,
dress from the latest issue
of Vogue.  He comes
from Rolling Stone—
blue jeans, black tee-shirt
honoring heavy metal music.
They go together as badly
as hot 'n sour soup
with Mongolian beef.
Yet his arm is about
her waist. His face is proud;
hers, aglow.
Something invisible melds
them to one another,
wraps them like shellfish
and cream cheese
in crab Rangoon.
From Szechwan Shrimp and
Fortune Cookies: Poems from
a Chinese Restaurant
by Wilda Morris
(RWG Press, 2008)

by John Pawlik
Dusk light
Tints the air
Above the lake
With a bronze hue
Ducks and geese
Huddled in pairs
Along the shore
You can hear the water
Over colored pebbles
Flowing under
The covered bridge
You can feel the stars
As one by one
They begin to appear
A silver moon
Rising above the trees
The wind
Looking for you
As I still do
The autumn leaves

eating out

by Steven Kappes
put on hold
by the Italian restaurant
where I am attempting
to make a reservation
I listen to the melodious voice
of Frank Sinatra

I can picture 
red checked tablecloths
smell garlic cooking
see dark haired
carrying plates of pasta

I wonder at the choice
of this particular singer
wonder if the Godfather
eats at this restaurant
if it has been the site
of gangland rubouts

slowly I hang up the phone
before the last notes
from old blue eyes' lips
fade into the past

Wall Street Interest

by Chris Holaves

He rudely bumped her on the market floor 
when she wore a red dress with a catch-all smile,
and like a matador, she teased with guile
in hopes that he would charge and she would gore

him with interest for she was the lady
with blond hair, high heels and higher hopes,
and no one but she knew better the ropes
of ruthlessly trading stocks like Whitman candy.

He said a quick sorry and waved his hand.
She looked, said nothing, smiled and waved her pen
stabbing his heart with her bullfighting sword

to buy mutual funds, stocks, and bonds and land
him with a mild migraine in the bullpen
like he was kicked off the trading floor board. 

He only thought about the mutual funds,
but she eyed asset allocation and his bonds.

(First published by The Rockford Review,
Vol. XXVI, No. 2, 2007. Prize winner)

700 Billion Acorns

by Jim Lambert
They’re falling everywhere
hitting the rooves
bouncing and pin-balling
rolling into the valleys
trickling down
hoping to sprout new oaks
to produce more acorns.

A hummingbird watches
as the acorns cascade
blanketing dying flowers
on the faded below.

The oaks look down on this
and wonder if the animals will survive.
The grass and the ground groan
under the relentless attack.
The flowers compete with the grass.
The grass competes with the weeds.

The animals had asked for the acorns
and then blamed each other
as they started to rain
from a seemingly infinite 
Chinese forest.

Suddenly 700 billion acorns 
began to fall
on 300 million hummingbirds
nursing 150 million flowers
while the grass groveled.
Will the flowers die?
Then the hummingbirds?

Dead dinosaurs and ferns
continue to be exhumed
and the animals will probably 
beg for more acorns.

Ride On, President Jesus

by Larry Turner
No, that title won’t work either. It still 
discredits God, suggests he is merely 
one chosen from among the many. It is 
just a different way of demeaning God. 
Singing "Ride On, King Jesus" lumps him 
with centuries of kings who misbehaved, 
on the job and in their private lives. 

The whole idea that some people are better 
than others because of their "blood" 
makes my own blood boil, 
makes me glad I am an American--
though the attitude is not unknown 
among Virginians. 

Why am I suddenly offended by references 
to crowns and thrones in familiar hymns?
Why won't I call God King, although 
I'm happy to call my dog Princess?

Macbeth and Junk Mail

by Andrew Rafalski
updating Macbeth’s famous soliloquy in
    Act II, Scene I in Shakespeare’s play

Is this junk mail which I see before me, 
And headed my way? Come, let me trash you:
I keep you not and yet I get you more.
Are you not, virtual gunk, sensible 
To feelings and to right? or are you but
A mail for the can, unwanted spam
Never to be opened, read or replied?

I get you still, in numbers virtual
And unwanted, numbing 
My mailbox with cache overfilled. 
You lead me to trash you and revile you,
Ignore and defile you.
Hotmail and Yahoo I was to use
But now both are flooded with
Nonsense, gobbledygook and lies.

I see you still, and on your 
Subject lines, deception, deceit
And fabrication. Your marketing
Eyes polluting the ether, the net
And my mailbox to boot.

Out, damned spam! out, I say!
What! will this mailbox ne'er be clean?

		* * *

Note: The Macbeth soliloquy begins:

"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight: or art thou but
A dagger a dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain..."

After a Mostness of Hurt

by Alan Harris
How after a mostness of hurt
does flower a sunrise of joy.
How never does awfulness stay
where planets are children of stars.

How warmly a candle lights up
in blackmost recesses of night.
How grieving and torment give way
to palpable peace in the heart.

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