Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2011
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Poems on this Page:


by Irene Sedeora
Along the river that runs
through the city

new restaurants inaugurate
and cement walkways

with bronze sculptures spring up,
inviting hand-in-hand ambles.

As barges move down river
on hot summer nights 

cool jazz draws crowds
and a child from the nearby projects

plays in fountain water. 
No one will tell her that

her frolicking is barred,
not on this tangy night 

the sun just setting 
to the dance of trumpet and sax, 

the scent of smoky ribs 
wafting over to the couple 

settled on the balcony 
of their new loft home 

in an aged warehouse
the bricks still brawny

                    after all this time.

(First published, "Toward the Livable City"
website, Milkweed Editions, 2004)


by William Vollrath
Do you hear them?

Do you hear the sounds?

Muffled moans at foot of the bed
Sleeping dog dreams of perfect belly rubs

Great gray creature in shadowy tree
Hooting loudly for majestic owl love

Distant hum of trains and trucks
Locked in their pre-dawn symphony

House suddenly creaking in dead of night
Wooden lungs breathing in and out

Radiant sun rising hopefully each day
As golden moon slides down into the bay

Innocent children across the land
Grow older and wiser in a flash of time

Promise of birth and mystery of death
Repeated over and over again

Listen carefully with open ears
Just beyond the silence of night

Hear the song of our celestial flight
Ever toward tomorrow's uncertain light

Do you hear the sounds?

(First published in Prairie Light
Review and OM Times)

Nine // Eleven

by David McKenna

Scuba Autumn

by John Pawlik
The sky
       a colour
         I just remember
        are white lines of poetry
 Around me
         ambers and oranges whisper
And I am at peace
       for I am
      in love
         with the leaves
                    of a single tree

The Christmas Angel

by Rick Sadler
I'm thinking out side the box
I know what is true
About my little Guardian Angel
That's dressed in blue
A little girl that I named Victory
As being about twelve years
Wearing golden Spectacles on her face
Like many crystal tears
She doesn't have wings or a Halo
Over all her head
Her Spectacles dazzles against her
Snow white hair instead
Encased in a brilliant white Orb
When she comes to me
Placing her hand on my shoulder
To comfort me
I know that she can't be seen
Still I know she's there
All I have to do is close my eyes
And I see her stare
When my story began she was there
As always up and until now
Watching and protecting me from Satan's prow
I love when Victory kneels
With me in prayer together
By my bed side
In my solitude we were feeling so high
So I'd like to send my Christmas
Angel to you and show
That it's OK to say Merry Christmas

The Scarcity of bees

by Mark Hudson
Some say bees are becoming extinct fast
this can affect if we will last
it may mean less meat we can eat
or cotton for clothes we can wear on the street
Einstein predicted if we lost the bees
We would be next in line to cease
Some people quote Matthew from the Bible
It is a source very reliable
Bees are necessary for the food chain
Scientists everywhere can't really explain
Why they are all dying so often
But we'll be next to be in a coffin
Do you like to eat meat? Sure, it's a treat
But vegans might rule this earth as elite
Animals going extinct can be traced
To bees and insects, next our race
I'm not trying to sound like I'm full of doom
But some things you can't just help but assume
Whoever thought we'd miss the bees?
Yet, their absence is like a worldwide disease
And climate change may or may not be true
But bees are dying, next me and you!
In life, death comes like a thief in the night
But the human race faces fight or flight
The pesticides are reacting in a negative way
It gets in our food whenever they spray
So eating healthy is quite hard to do
Soon food will be hard to even reach you
A woman reports about the total collapse
The stuff that is wiping bees off maps
A farmer in Georgia talks with remorse
About hearing silence where there should be force
Crickets and frogs chirp not at all
And man will be next to take a fall
God instructs us all not to worry
But man-made resources are dwindling in a hurry
God is generous—come see his worth
He promises us a new Heaven and Earth
But in the meantime, will he hear our pleas?
Please save us God, and maybe too the bees!


by John E. Slota
Reflected in a looking glass
Some once upon some moment past.
Misshapen shape, what kiln ye from?
From patchwork patched at last begun.
Yea by what means yer cup be filled?
A part from most apart be stilled.

Brittle shattered torn and tattered
Fragile remnants mostly scattered.
n essence begs essentially
What bitter root abandoned thee?
Mah sinew cries, austere at best
At best mah cry's for sweet sweet rest.

let nothing disentangle

by Gail Goepfert
in spring
water arrives 
in a costume of excess

water vital
nurturer of harvest

water transformed
a terror    
                un   raveling
of       life

branded with scents
of desperation
twining lines--
	hardened  human backs
		thread barriers
			in silence
watching     waiting
raw muscle and resolve
ignore the ominous sky
river churns nearby

the cadence of pass-pass-stack
echoes the inching crest

pomanders stuffed 
with the lavender of 

(Finalist in Mississipi Valley
Poetry Contest 2010, first
published in Off Channel)

Ode to a Corkscrew

by Marcia Pradzinski
O, corkscrew Ė
You're supposed to be easier,
easier than  the one with
bird wings that press down
and pull the cork up,

easier than the one with
rabbit ears that I press 
with the strength  
of  a stevedore
lifting cargo,

and much easier 
than the simple one 
with a blond wood pull-handle
and snaking metal tooth.

The salesclerk told me with a smile
how you lift yourself up
by twirling and twirling like 
a ballerina in a pirouette.

But I stare at your black     plastic
inscrutable body. 

O, corkscrew—
will you ever
let me understand  
your parts, 
and    how 



they work together.

(Marcia J. Pradzinski won an honorable
mention in the Funny Poetry contest
published on, 2010,
published again on, 9/2011)


by Steven Kappes
I gather round me the stillness
wrap myself in silence
except for the whirring of a fan
a steady and never changing breeze

outside the sun is melting the asphalt
the tar on the shingles of my house
it is beating the life out of flowers
drying and crisping the grasses

the cardinals are gone from the pine tree
outside my bedroom window
the robins cannot peck the stone hard ground
squirrels are in their hidden nests

rain heads our way then vanishes
the clouds divide and dry up
storms move above and below
but none comes our way

while in the east and south
rain inundates the country
washes away houses and roads
drowns the land with its excess

nothing is easy in this life
little comes naturally in its time
we must fight for every scrap
remain steady despite drought

A Ball

by Earl V. Fischer
a man reaches
for a ball flipped
and falls to his death

left behind: a son
out for fun
with his dad

and a ball

a boy reaches
for a ball flipped
it slips away

is flipped again
another boy gets it
whoops it up 

sees the first cry
gives it away

just a ball

sudden acclaim
gets a jersey
throws a first pitch

has a ball

Mrs. Dash (-)

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
When they place the top down on my coffin
Or put the lid down on my urn,
Please tell me Mrs. Dash,
Will they be able to clue you in on all
that I've learned?
 Mrs. Dash, will they tell you how I wholeheartedly loved old school and new school rap,
Will they tell you how after reading
"The Ballad of Birmingham" in school one day,
  It brought tears to my eyes and sent me  running to my mom's lap.
 Mrs. Dash will they say I had some good  days and some bad days?
  Will they tell you that spoken word is what
   I craved?
        Mrs. Dash, will they tell you how I 
        anxiously awaited attending Open Mike
         poetry forums?
          Because it gave me a chance to showcase some of my older and newer poems.
Mrs. Dash, when they place you in between my birth year which is 1969 dash whenever,
Will they express how much I loved poetry, will they say that I was clever?

Thought By Now I'd Know

by Karen H. Honnold
I thought by now I'd know.
Elemental beliefs would have
settled in, taken root, immovable.

Seems I knew more when I was young.
With age I find fewer truths to prop myself up.

I thought by now I'd know.
How to start fresh with siblings
old hurts buried deep with parents.

Instead basic answers allude me
run opposite to what I once knew.

I thought by now I'd know.
The mysteries of marriage. the nature of happiness.
Dissentions would smooth.

Now each new idea needs to be run through a sieve, 
kneaded by aching hands, 
broken down so thin light can shine through.

I thought by now I'd know.
Be ready to pass along some wisdom
to grandchildren who seem so certain.

But now, time carries me, becomes heavy in my waning,
grandchildren seize it light, and run. 

My Brother's Keeper

by Chris Holaves
He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause
for stumbling in him.
         1 John 2:10

A Caribbean hurricane caught my heart,
squeezed hard and hurled it with brotherly pain
for harsh winds once lashed hateful words with rain
and washed our natural ties apart.
Now, in the midst of a life-threatening storm,
I'm left to affirm my worry for you
and ask, "Am I my brother's keeper who
must protect him from harm of any form?

And why must I be his keeper?" I ask.
Then I see your face and the light in me
throbs my heart with pain, and I'm out of breath
for past memories in this tempest bask
under my soul's bright light that helps me see:
If I donít love my brother, I abide in death.

Forever I am my brother's keeper
to live with this truth eternally richer.

(First published in The Greek Star)

First Fall

by Marguerite McClelland

Let me sink into this fall day,
as though inviting Death
to come into my door
on hinges I control.
Is it temerity?

It is warm here,
away from the early chill
which reminds
there is a closing.
No fires yet protest against the cold;
the sun still plays behind green leaves,
a little lower now,
a little more distant.

It seems safe here.

For now the body savors
the willful illusion.
This body knows only spring.
This mind contrives a game
with her dark guest
and thinks to win.

It seems safe here,


by Farouk Masud
We die in anguish—
We walk endlessly,
Souls of pity.
Such pitiful souls.
At a young age,
I met my fate.
In my bed,
sleeping state.
The world seems so different,
Illusionary cartoons.
No more color.
yet not clear.
The air feels so cold,
like my own death.
crying whispers.
Eternal torment.
Dead as dead can be—
like Casper,
a fictitious being.
I'm no friendly ghost.

Mother Earth:
Reconjuring her soft,
redolent flowers.
Revitalizing her archaic,
colossal trees.
Reanimating her dormant,
comatose creatures.
How she dies many deaths,
only to be given the chance
for life again and again.
I see all things.
all things can't see me.
I cannot grasp
beautiful objects.
Objects as beautiful
as I once was.
Forever to wander
in my own despair.
A lonely,
rotting spirit.
Mother Earth,
I love you.
I envy you.
I hate you!
Please resurrect me.

Watching Him Read

by Donna Pucciani
He is the only person I know
who will read ancient Greek, the dictionary,
and a book about stars in the same day.
He emits an enviable stillness.
I take a photograph of this quiet,
ordinary pose.

The camera's flash swallows
sofa, windows, a mahogany table
with a coffee cup, and his body
in jeans, a green cardigan,
and sneakers old as Ovid.

The medieval carols of King's College
bleed their stained glass into
the pages of past and future,
the empty cup of the moment.

(First published in Obsessed with Pipework,
a literary journal in England)

A Man with No Pulse

by William Marr
crashing waves
now become
a steady stream
winding around a rock
day and night
polishing and pacifying 
no more pounding
no more blushing

Note: The heart pump implanted
in former Vice President Dick
Cheney's chest takes over the
function of the heart, but
produces no pulse. 

Winter Spell

by Wilda Morris
On the longest night of the year
sprint at midnight into chilly air.
Let fingers of darkness scratch
your cheek. Scream in a voice
that will echo through next winter's dreams.
Take three giant steps north.
With gloved fingers pull
a ribbon of sky up to the axis
of the dome above your bare head.
Hold your hand high awaiting
the screech of an owl. Stand
silent until you hear nothing. 
Sing your own siren song.
Release your hold slowly
so the sky doesn't snap back. 
Dance three minutes along
a possum's trail. As your breath
streams from your mouth,
let it crystallize into hope.

Masks Like Lions

by Mardelle Fortier
Masks like lions and tigers
all the world wears a mask
my own is made of satin
soft yet unbelievably strong

I can never walk a step without it
never pass a moment without a thought of it
Always worry that it might slip a bit
and you will see my fear

Always must wear a sparkle on my face
Disguise the barking, groaning
loneliness, churning, burning,
hide the tear

Only in dreams can I be real, can walk
down the starlit road in my true skin
In daytime I am so cloaked, even I
don't really know what mood I'm in

(Published in Prairie Light Review,
Spring 2011)


by Alan Harris
I have floated like a maple leaf
to the sky below an autumn pond,
to an inner place of rich relief
from gusty winds now slipped beyond.

I sense eternal love from high
(or is it deep?) inside my being,
and find this view before my eye
requires a lighter, wider seeing.

Odd now, the fear those final sighs
would turn out all my lights within,
when light now brings these newer eyes
envisionings of friends and kin.

Since here I live within a force
that moves me anywhere I ask it,
let no one feel the least remorse
upon the closing of my casket.

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