Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2010
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by William Vollrath
I'm pregnant
I surrendered myself...
   a servant to suggestion
   blinded by expectation
   stripped of inhibiting pride
I revel in my awkwardness...
   blushing with fulfillment
   nourished by this hunger
   peaceful in my solitude
I shall bear an idea

Lake Erie

by Mark Hudson
I went on a trip with my folks to Lake Erie,
In Port Clinton, with few people near me.
We saw a car accident as we entered town,
A car crashed into a tree and it was down.
A few blocks later, a sign full of strife,
"Speed kills, slow down, enjoy life."
And obviously that was true where we were
Because in the middle of nowhere, nothing could occur.
We went to Jolly Rogers, to eat some perch,
And on this trip we missed out on church.
The next day, we went to Put-in-Bay,
With our extended family that came that way.
There was uncle Dan, Danielle, Carly and Kyle,
And Melinda, Sean, Annie came for a while.
Aunt Norma was also there included,
Uncle Pete was the only one excluded.
We rode on a ferry boat, across the lake
To the island and the boat would shake.
We got across and caught a boat yonder,
And on the island we started to wander.
Some of the youth went on a carousel,
We wondered the best way to spend the day well.
The kids just wanted to go to the park,
So they played there with Uncle Dave and Uncle Mark.
As I watched the energy of each child,
I couldn't believe how they made us smile.
They wore us out, as children just might,
We all ate dinner, and said good night.
The next day we went on some nature trails
In what was once a black swamp so frail.
We went to see nature but I don't know why
The only thing I saw a butterfly.
We found someone's cell phone and turned it in,
They got it back and left with a grin.
The next day we went to safari park
My mom, my dad, and me, Mark.
The animals would approach the window and look in
You'd feed them some food and they needed some cookin'
A giant bull displayed its horns
Giraffes and zebras were there to forewarn
Of children who loved the creatures so much
They could look but they couldn't touch
The animals were caged like a zoo
Kids got photos with a boa constrictor, too.
All in all it was a great vacation
Seeing my family's younger generation
I look forward to the future to travel
And see other adventures unravel
But in the meantime, I got plenty of which to write,
Lake Erie goodbye, Lake Michigan, good night!

Spring Thaw

by Susan T. Moss
It must have been a Cooper's hawk
that got him mid-air
leaving no tracks of predator or prey,
just blue feathers hatched with black
and white strewn over snowy wet ground.

Perhaps it was the blue jay which called
to other birds from the feeder
or the one often perched on a broken
hemlock near the back door.  No telling
what went through his bird brain

the instant of the snatch with sharp talons
and hooked beak in the neck or gut.
Maybe that's the way to go — suddenly
with no time to consider what’s for breakfast
or how to say goodbye.

Our 44th Anniversary

by Bonnie Manion
was spent on a train, l'Ocean,
heading back to Montreal. We
kissed the night before, a tentative
touch as we said goodnight while
crawling into our separate berths.
We are nearing the end of a journey
to the Nova Scotia Highlands, Canadian
national park on Cape Breton Island
At 47 degrees latitude, it's as far north
as people live in continental North America.

We spent one week in a cabin on Aspy Bay,
nestled among wild rose bushes on a deserted
beach. Each headland extends an arm out to sea,
beckoning today's explorers where John Cabot
sighted a new world in 1497. More than 500
years later, the Cape remains a lonesome coast,
pristine virgin forest.

We shared a hiking trail with a moose, heard
scurries of unseen creatures among the ferns
and fog of the coastal bog. We plied a ribbon
of scenic highway watching for whales
at Pleasant Bay, trekked to hidden waterfalls
brown with tannin from the pines covering
the scrabble-top hills. Scrambled the rocky spine
of a volcanic shoreline rich with fossils from
another epoch.

We tried it all, and now we're heading back by train.
"Please close the window shade," you drone politely
as you roll over in your upper bunk, not realizing I sit
dressed in the lower one waiting to breakfast with you
at the dining car. In companionable old age, we remain
lonely individualists. You and I are on our own, alone
in a new era of discovery, seeking the me and you who
met in Indiana forty-five years ago.

(First published in PK's Advocate)

An Inner City Tale

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
(Ode to Cabrini Green)
Born into a tenement in the heart of the windy city in the summer of sixty-nine,
Fourth small mouth to be fed and second girl in line.
A time just after the assassinations of Malcolm, Medgar, JFK, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
A time when proclamations like "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," were the in thing.
When Bell-bottomed jeans and afros swayed effortlessly against the wind,
An era when Motown was king and Stax was In!
Our guardians were diligent and always instilled in us the need to get ahead,
Stressing that there is strength in numbers and to stick together no matter what was said.
70', school bells, limited teaching apparatuses and burned out teachers and no recess,
Escaping boredom, through reading autobiographies always held my interest.
Benefiting from RIF (Reading is Fundamental) reading Angelou, Hansberry, Morrison, Moody, X and Cruz.
Discovering and rediscovering, Richard Wright, Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes.
Brown scarred knees from repeatedly falling upon thick blacktop.
Corner stores, liquors stores, ice cream, pickles, Now-n-laters, barber and beauty shops.
Loud sounds blaring to break through red glistening project walls,
Aretha, Chaka, Diana, O'Jays, Jacksons, Curtis Mayfield and Lou Rawls.
Broken elevators, and broken dreams, straightening combs and fade creams.
Mayoral candidates making mockeries out of project residents by handing out
V-necks, turkeys, and miniature Christmas trees in exchange for votes.
Some project residents coming undone and always at each others throats.
Skateboards, hopscotch, jump rope, Red Light Green Light and Mother May I?
Young men masquerading as gangsters on street corners, over already-conquered city turf, why?
Soon childhood laughter is silenced by gunshots and young bodies dropping.
Caskets, tears, sensing my own mortality at 13, anticipating my own heart stopping.
Guardians' tenacity paid off in the spring of '83 they rescued me,
Before our transition out of the ghetto, I noticed young women making spaces in their bellies
for little ones, completely throwing caution to the wind,
Yeah, babies having babies starting the cycle all over again...


by Beth Staas
I want to move up close
and sense the smell of you
your un-minted breath,
your damp, sweaty pores,
without concealing perfume.

I want to taste and touch,
and feel the mean of you
your trembling mouth,
your rough furrowed brow,
without cosmetic disguise.

I want to comprehend
the very soul of you
your righteous wrath,
your grievous mistakes,
with no evasions or lies.

Then I can come to you 
completely, unrefined,
my blundering self
laid bare at your feet,
my affirmation of love.

Old song

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
I know for sure, or do I think I know!
That Sun will rise and set each day 
Surely I know moon marks the month
Summer marches like soldier in Khaki garb
Behind the mighty arrogant winter
Why my senses insist my knowing wrong?
Falling snow showers commanding thoughts
To shrivel in to sooty mounds of foam
Winter coats growing shabby, dusty and cold
Hope hopelessly trapped in infinity gray
The forgotten smiles hiding in cheeks 
Gushed out of eyes sockets like meteors 
The bare and bent trees shed shade thick
Merciful branches helped immense
Fearing streams swell, run away waters freeze
January's cruel desire burning high 
Always wanting lusty spring over and over 
Orders Daffodils to toss their heads 
April maiden to bring showers 
Dainty May humped with Lilac loads
Not to mention green skapes sweeping
Earth womb gives myriad births 
Seasons run like schools of fish in 
confused continuum of ocean depths 
measures nor calculators count 
or number the rhythmic beat
time is changing, calendar its leaves
surely 'eye' sees earth diastole beat
and upslope of systole eternal
Her blossoms quiver, rivers rush
Knowledge goes to sleep, thoughts 
shine in fading misty mystic hues 
Intrigue sighs at gloating doubt
Search takes walk in space in time.

The Creepies

by Farouk Masud
When you yawn and moan and sigh, 
When it's time for beddy-bye,
When you're off to catch some z's—
Beware of the Creepies!
At your window they will peep
And a crawl and a creep
When you crash and fall asleep—
Fall asleep, sleep, sleep!
They'll creep into your room
When your home is like a tomb.
They'll wait until you snore
To begin their wicked chore.
They'll bite and scratch your toes,
They'll smack your crooked nose
Right when you start to doze—
Start to doze, doze, doze!
They'll punch and pinch your hips,
They'll poke and prick your lips.
When you wake and see the stark,
Empty stillness of the dark,
You'll panic and you'll dread
Every time you go to bed
And you'll wish that you were dead— 
You were dead, dead, dead!
When daylight breaks the morn
You'll feel like you're reborn.
You'll think:  Was this a dream?
So for real it did seem.
Then I'll dance around in glee
And say:  "It was only me!"
You'll cry and I'll laugh:  "He!"
I'll laugh:  "He-he-he!"

Arachnophobia Cured!
Or, Extinguishing the Autumnal Fear of House-Penetrating Ladybugs

by Jason Sturner
Late last night
the ladybugs came to get me
            to swarm over me
in the dark.
And this morning
I'd have woken up eaten
            if it weren't
for the spiders.

And Her Tears Are Happy Tears

by Ina Perlmuter
We gather in the Sukkah* a blaze in candle light
Little ones in pj's, Bubbie and Zaidy in snuggy vests
We all squeeze closer till everyone has a seat
Sharing time with family is a yontifdika1 treat
Now that all are present Zaidy welcomes family and guests
And our Bubbie full of emotion sheds happy tears
Happy tears is a Bubbie thing announcing all is well
We talk of Jonah and the whale, the book of Kahalis too
The conversation runs the gamut of what it means to be a Jew
Little ones comment the owl sound makes a hooting rhyme
While teenagers start to grumble waiting for feasting time
And an Abba or an Eema or maybe it was a guest
Offer a song of thanksgiving feeling so very blessed
The little ones don't put up a fuss, when told it's time for bed
Probably thoughts of Sukkah treats are dancing in their heads
We pass the myim makronim2 then berkhat mezonis3 begins
When friends leave, the hour is late, and some head off to bed
While hearty souls stay in the Sukkah for le'chiam and song
It's then that Zayde says to Bubbie, "I think it's just grand
That being together as family is where children belong."
*a temporary outdoor booth many Jews eat in during the harvest festival
2*a bit of water to pour over  finger tips after eating
3*after meal prayer of thanksgiving

Squirrel Season

by John Pawlik
It is just dawn
The night's mist
Drips from
Autumn leaves
You hear
The first bird's call
A dove's mournful tune
A blue jay's cry
Flights of sparrows
Going out on patrol
And yet it is silence
That still pervades
The chilled colored air
As if clinging to a dream
Before it fades away
And there
Is your father
Calm and strong
A few yards off
In the somber trees
He looks at you
Nods his head
Then points up
With a single finger
Toward the growing sky
And acorn shells
That fell so
Many years ago
Echo in your ear

The Mary Christmas Lights

by Rick Sadler
Fairest  Virgin  Mary  do  you  have  a  lovely  Poem  for  me
On  a  Friday  night  in  December  by  the  Christmas  Tree,
Oh  Holy  Mom  just  give  me  one  little  sign  so  I'll  know
As  I  go  out  side  to  see  her  mysterious  light  show,
I  saw  her  Orb  in  the  Lightening  of  the  Skies  is  December
Wondering  what  causes  such  a  display  as  I'll  remember,
To  hear  her  foot  steps  on  the  green  florescent  Fire  Fox
That  illuminate  the  Ground,  Trees,  and  even  the  Mail  Box,
See  her  smiling  eyes  in  the  round  white  Marfa  Lights
Jumping,  bouncing,  playing  in  the  cold  December  nights,
The  Aurora  Borealis  red  and  blue  are  glowing  mysteriously
How  beautiful  they  show  Mary's  face  looking  so  cheerfully,
Scanning  the  Horizon  I  see  her  Astronomical  Twilights
Until  the  Earth  and  Sky  are  one  in  my  mythological sights,
The  full  moon  is  wearing  a  Rainbow  Halo  from  its  heights,
In  its  center  is  the  Queen's  praying  Hands  as  her  poet  writes,
It  seems  that  the  Virgin  Mary  and  I  sure  love  Christmas
She   gives  me  wonderful  feelings  I  can  not  explain  to  us,
There  she  is  glowing  with  her  blue  Cloak  and  white  Veil
In  her  long  pink  Gown  wearing  a  golden  Sash  so  so  Frail,
She  had  a  crimson  colored  Rose  on  both  her  Holy  feet
Out  side  my  door  is  the  greatest  Mother  I'd  love  to  meet,
Madam  you  are  the  Christmas  wish  that  I  have  dreamed  of
Thank  you  Holy  Mother  for  coming  back  to  me  from  above,
It's  her  natural  Lights  that  decorate  this  Christmas  Card
Mary  wishing  you  all  the  best  of  love  from  my  front   Yard

Dedicated to:
Brenda Sadler
Dorothy Sadler
Hedy Sadler
Susan Sadler            

Behold the Holy One Comes

by Patricia Gangas
"Idle tears, I know not what they mean,
      from the depths of some divine despair"...
                                         Lord Tennyson

I knew You would come
that night in my absolute darkness,
for I am Your child tired out from 
loneliness, my eyes burning from years 
trudging idle deserts.
You stood before me, rescued me
from the blurring effects of unrelenting storms.

Your being, serene as a summer's smile
warmed my dark silhouette,
You transformed me into a star
ablaze with flooding light
before Your majesty.

I opened my arms high in an arc, reaching—
I know I was created for You alone,
no one understands our secret language,
only You can decode the riddle
of our deep love.

We share the wind's song,
the sculpture of clouds,
a sacredness sublime.
I reach for Your hand, a wisp of tenderness,
as Your gaze and mine intersect in
that space behind the sun.

Surviving Katrina

- Part Two -
by David McKenna
I hold    in my heart    such a hate
for that heap of flesh    less a Soul!
And though he did not penetrate
way back in my mind there's a hole
that's just aching      to swallow me whole!

I lifted and dragged Da into
Davey's room      the second floor's all
we got left      When the flood came through
it took the rest of our home      call 
it lucky that the house is so tall

That dead weight punk splashed down the stairs
I couldn't leave him where he lay
He's floating by the wooden chairs
and though    some cushions float away
his corpse seems determined to stay

It's been three long days of hunger
since that maniac came    four nights
of living in Hell      With my anger
gut pain    and this damn wetness that bites
I've thought of blowing out my lights

But today I heard whirlybirds 
whopping    coming to the rescue
or so I thought      I had hard words
when I realized that they flew
away    then cried      that's nothing new

The worst thing about the dark deep
of night    is all that's left is smell
and damned sounds that won't let you sleep
like being trapped inside a well
with nightmares I'm too scared to tell

Sometimes I hear gun shots ring out
in the distance    a kitten's cry
as it floats somewhere and I shout
loud as I can   "I'm gone to die
in here!   Help me!   Don't pass me by!"

So freaked    my imagination
that it's hard to tell what is real
the creeping contamination
a ghost    I can reach out and feel!
I am savoring my next meal!

Nature's Rhythms

by John E. Slota
Dragon Fly

Curious Movement
Glorious Dance
Spastic, Rhythmic
Zigzagging Trance
Unforced Flow
No Stop All Go
Dance  Dragon Fly  Dance.
A method To Your Madness
Likely So
Perhaps Survival's More Than Pure Chance?
So Dance  Dragon Fly Dance


by David LaRue Alexander
People here 
people there
people, people everywhere

Crowded sidewalks
crowded streets
crowded subways
no more seats

Crowded malls
crowded stores
crowded lots
parking wars

Crowded bars
crowded theaters	
crowded restaurants
lousy waiters

Crowded buildings
crowded floors
crowded elevators
can't close doors 

Crowded all over
except the place
where I actually have
some extra space 

All alone each night
I lay down my head
It's not crowded
in my bed

The Baseball Player

by Chris Holaves
A baseball player has a lonely job.
Matching his talents against the white ball,
He watches closely not to let it rob
His bright spring-summer to an early fall.  

He plays the outfields; he mans the bases.
Standing alone, surrounded by sharp eyes,
He hears their shouts but can't see their faces.
He ignores their insults, their boos and cries.

He sits in the dugout, chewing, waiting.
He rubs his nervous hands and wipes his face.
Closing all his senses to their baiting,
He takes his turn to bat, hit, get on base.

Cold isolation he hopes to break down.
He slugs the ball and hears a roaring sound!

(First published by The Rockford Review, Vol. XXIX - No. 2)

N A T I V I z M or SO...

by Mike Yulish
My friend is outstanding attacker
of our street team of a soccer
I'm ,too,trying playing like a pro.
but yet the score is zero,a draw;
playing the game of the day...
 Now my friend  makes  it all the way.
Their goalkeeper plays his role
Trying intercepting the ball.
But my friend's move is bright :
kicks the ball to me , to the right
Although I'm about to fall,
                                 but scorring—
Goooooooooooooooooooooal  !

Hey you,nightdreams, it  is  known to all :
it takes more than one attack beams to make a goal.

Hey you,nightdreams' string
You glanced the breathing of the Spring ?
The tired snow that  lost whiteness?
The new season of the brightness ?
In the seas,skies,different soiles
the help that's coming to the freezing soles ?
(freezing ?!- such a pity...)
this help,as well, is of your native city.

       The meaning of nativity...
accompanied by memories, sensitivity... .
Everyone got a native place,
A sort of your own space
        To me  to KNOW  the native city
is to KNOW   its elite—
those tops of the pyramid
and all city's times, sights, events,
awards, compliments...

        Let's say, here a city,as I guess,
saves somehow the US
is the society's protection
("more or less",if an objection)

The city's walkroads, marches
the coupolas,arches,
the boulevards on nights
                   -I'm selling these brights-
unususal sights that all over in lights...
                   Also to KNOW the fall offs the pyramid-
also accents and  languages of different tences
also sunrises and the lights of the nights,
rules,orders and...borders...  .

               MY(!) native city's like a dream
MY native city 's  like a beam
To me its scale is a surprise
Its cast,its past gives her a rise
MY  native city is uniqueness
Free from bureaucratic blickness,
from selling citizens to foreign buyers
free from propaganda liers
               Hey you nightdreams,
Why wouldn"t  you get creativity
and stop usurpation of my nativity ?!

               Right now I'm in a foreign range
Even the air that I breath here's strange
The stars in skies 're  same but pilling,
Looking at me, winkling,smiling
at my modernism, my patriotism
               Well,however, I do  remember
lillacks of MY native Moscow's September
there that special rule
                                  of  always back to school
With limitless perceptions,as it seems
limitless perceptions ?
                Hey you nightdreams...

Sunday Morning Breakthrough

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
by Wilda Morris
Water washes down
Calle Canal—
not to clear away
tourista trash
or Saturday sins—
but because little fountains
from a broken water main
pushed through the street
between paving stones.
The sidewalk is so slick
I may fall into myself.
A poem bursts
through my skin.

(Previously published in
Chocolate Covered: Poems
by Members of the Arbor Hill
Gang in West Suburban Chicago,
ed. Marilyn Peretti (Glen Ellyn IL:
Splendid Press, 2010), p. 7.

City Windows

by William Marr
the higher the window
the smaller
and paler
the face

everytime I pass underneath
I always have a funny feeling
something is going to land on my head
a spit
a cigarette butt
a flower pot
or a man
spreading his arms
learning to fly
like a bird

Seeing Through Your Eyes

by Syreeta L. Williams
As I was noticing the things of God, walking
the beach in the summer sand as every sparkle
of sand flows through my fingertips, I began
looking at the sun and the rays of splendor.
The touch of his presence the feel of it,
so tender. The scent of roses with a
touch of rain. Look! The rose opens again.
The purity of white doves. The yearning feeling
of being in love. The redness of the cresent moon.
The daylight savings time; as summer ends soon.
The wind that blows. Where did it go? Nobody knows.
Birds flying in the form of a soaring arrow.
The stars dancing in all directions, North, South,
East and West, revolving equally dividing the seasons
of the earth.
The shimmer of the seawaters, and creatures
captured beneath. The softness of the clouds
formed into a marshmallow fluff, and mountains
peaked with white stuff.
But in the beauty of things that we see, it all boils
down to you and me. God spoke into an empty galaxy,
and all of this became a reality and a sight to see.

My Cow, My Guru

by Alan Harris
My brown cow
lives in the now.

Quantity and time and hay slide
through her unnoticed. She
doesn't count her stomachs
or her breaths or her days.

She seeks no acupuncture
treatments, nor does she
brew herbal teas.

Being the best she can be
holds no interest for her as
she grazingly meditates with
slow-moving hooves and jaws
over a grassy pasture.

Her Buddhic eyes see
out and in all the way.

My cow knows an old, old mantra
that she neither flaunts nor hides—
when the world needs a moo,
she gives it one.

As her swishing tail
with Zen precision
scatters a bunch of flies
like unwelcome thoughts,
my brown cow's gaze is
inly intimating to me,
"No how is there to now."

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