Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October 2013
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Poems on this Page:

Forest Meditation

by Christine Cianciosi
Sunlight falls like rain
washing away present pain—
warm western wind blows
gentle scent of summer rose.

Path of blessed bliss
footstep on earth's gentle kiss—
green skies of tree ends
butterfly free to transcend.

Thoughts pure as snow
river of emotions, calm and let go—
stillness within nothingness
find divine sweetness.

Branches dance to tree song
music of nature never wrong—
present moment awareness
meditations perpetual fairness.

I so delight
in mind's flight—
rising above ground
gold leaves unbound.

Soul's euphoric retreat
within light I meet—
new me I gratefully see
hidden within each forest tree.

Way toward consciousness formation
lay within forest meditation—
find your inner tree
branch out and become free.

what lies buried

by Steven Kappes
like the bones of some
long forgotten dinosaur
the interurban street car tracks
lie buried under concrete
in the center of Main Street
in front of the courthouse
in downtown Urbana
if you could follow them
they would run
all the way to Danville
alongside the US highway
through one small town
after another
in Fithian is a building
with arched doorways
on the east and west ends
where the cars ran through
discharging passengers
returning from shopping
or going to the fun park
down north of Homer
during the war
when gasoline was scarce
as a child I once rode
the interurban train
to visit my aunt Mildred
and her family in Danville
but I remember nothing else
other than I did it
the way no one seems
to remember today
that the tracks still exist
until a street project
uncovers what lies buried

Spring. It Is To Laugh

by Gail Denham
One day spring made a promise.
She pointed out a brave green
daffodil spike poking through
crusty snow, then brought my attention
to a lone robin, here for a short visit.
It played with our minds, this spring
who plowed bravely through three
feet of white stuff to offer a taste,
a tiny tidbit of what lay ahead.
As soon as I see ground appear, feel breezes
that don't freeze nostril hairs, I shall applaud
long and hard for the harbingers of the
sweet-smelling event, for which we long.

Reflecting on an Ocean's Day

by Pamela D. Hirte
Waves roll in waves roll out. My life is an ocean. A constant rise and
fall of emotions. Some crest and fill up a bright blue sky, while
others crash upon an empty beach. The moon's pull of gravity
guides the tide with perfection. It never fails to keep a promise.
Do I? Like clouds of sea foam I sometimes break apart and blow
away with the wind. The sea foam rolls down the beach, a casualty
of the surf. Who are my casualties?
I walk barefoot in soft sand and see dawn's shiny new beach. I
start each day full of promises to keep. A white beach lies
ahead with crystal clarity. Then footprints are trod, picnics
shared, breadcrumbs tossed, and tattoos of beach chairs are left
behind. By day's end the beach is marred with imperfections much
like me. Mobs of hungry seagulls overwhelm quickly when I have
only one morsel to offer. The greedy scavengers fly overhead and
mock with their laughing song. Can't the flock see my struggle to
fill everyone's needs?
At dusk, sunset offers rays of redemption. Soon darkness draws
its curtain over a beach littered with promises, purged, failed, broken.
Then night blackens the sky, the sea surges forth to retrieve forgotten
debris. The ocean's ebb and flow creates a new beach, unlittered, the
calm of dawn stills all, and I begin again.

Temporary Bliss

by Mark Hudson
They say, "You can't  take it with you,"
when your coffin is what you'll be in.
Your soul is what escapes
Our toys won't make us win.
Throughout humanity's history
wars have been fought over greed.
A little bit of humility
is what we really need.
The wealthy aren't always bad,
but they need to learn to share.
Poverty makes me sad,
and no one seems to care.
If someone is on a corner,
and all they want is change,
are you a cynical scorner?
Do you act like they are strange?
Money isn't always,
the best way to give.
Taking time and efforts,
shows people how to live.
If we give away our cash,
then we in turn will beg,
no human being is trash,
no worker is a peg.
If you treat others,
with a tiny bit of respect,
the earthly sisters and brothers,
might not face such regret.
The work we do today,
reflects upon tomorrow.
If we throw it all away,
the future will be sorrow.
Let's leave a little love,
for tomorrow's generations.
Peace is like a dove,
that must go to all nations.
It's going to take some time,
it won't happen overnight.
But things will go just fine,
when we get too tired to fight.


by Gary Ketchum
The small boy treads the dusty ditch mostly
Unseen or ignored by passing traffic.
The little lad resembles a ghostly
Apparition or some cyber graphic.
With supreme concentration he labors
To find hastily discarded bottles
Once hurled from moving vehicles.  He favors
Long-necked, bulbous glass container models
That fit neatly in his big burlap sack
And chime muffled musical tones as he
Drags it behind or bears it on his back.
"This is so cool!  I'm gonna be rich!" says he.
Each piece of treasure will render two cents.
Sweat equity his only investment,
He will clear sheer profit when he presents
His hefty haul as worthy testament
To his hard-earned, time consuming toils.
He knew not where the empties were taken
After being traded for cash, these spoils.
He knew the booty was not forsaken.
T'was somehow renewed as if by magic,
Washed clean, renovated, resold anew.
Such bottles not meeting ends so tragic
But instead, being restored and reused.

Was I that youth who gleaned glass refuse? 
No.  I was an empty vessel redeemed,
Cleansed, refilled, renewed, re-souled and one who's
Made whole and better than ever dreamed.

Fortune Cookie & Lunar Calendar

by William Marr
— For Wilda and Ed on their 50th wedding anniversary
I'm the lucky one, I claim.
My fortune's open, full of choices.
          — Fortune Cookie, Wilda Morris
Yes, you're very lucky indeed.
Your fortune's open, your future every day
will be full of laughter, love, joy, friendship,
health, happiness, peace, and prosperity...
like today.   

According to my lunar calendar,
today is a good date for meeting friends,
a good date for starting a courtship,
a good date for getting married,
a good date for groundbreaking, 
a good date for building a house,
a good date for taking in a pet,
and an especially good date 
for writing love poetry.

If you don't believe me,
read for yourself the message from the lunar calendar 
for this magnificent date reserved especially for you. 
After having eaten so many red hot Szechwan shrimps,
cracked open so many crispy tasty lucky fortune cookies,
and written a whole book of sweet and sour poems 
at the China Chef, 
I'm sure you can read Chinese,
can't you?


by Marcia Pradzinski
in the shut mouth of night 
your father and I 
lie side by side 

floods our bed
spills down the hallway

to the room
with your crib
we wait

for the doctor's call
to calm our fears
about what might be 

we wait and watch
the moon come
to the window

the third witness 
to what begins as 
a gurgle

until laughter springs
from your four-month-old lips 
a belly laugh

the moon glows
your voice bounces off the walls
lights up your room

the hallway 
our room and tumbles

haloes the house

(Published in Exact Change Press,
Winter 2013)

Been to the River

by Chris Holaves
I've been to the river
An' heard all the stories
Of fishermen tellin'
'Bout their catches and worries,
'Bout gamblin' on river boats,
An' lines tangled in tall weeds,
An' shallow, muddy places 
Where castin' brings out bad deeds.

Yeah, I've been to the river
An' heard all them stories.
I got so busy listenin'
I forgot my worries,
An' I forgot what I knew:

To fish at the river
You must cast out your line too.

Panic and Fear

by David LaRue Alexander
Panic and fear, panic and fear.
All there is here, is panic and fear....
I look around and I see, people just like me.
Living with their fear, and anxiety.
All their faces filled with fright,
worried if things will turn out right.

You can feel the tension growing,
people scared about not knowing.
No one knows for sure what's coming,
the apprehension is mind numbing.
You can tell they've ceased to cope.
You can see they've lost all hope.
Soon they'll reach that critical junction, 
where their minds will cease to function.
Then it's all just fight or flight,
they won't care who's wrong or right.
They won't reason; or use fact.
They won't think; they'll just react.
Get in their way; and they'll attack.
They've gone too far; no coming back.
But within their fear, something else I see,
and I believe it's called  —opportunity.
People just wish they knew, perhaps— "I,"
could tell them what to do.

No Pale Moon

by Kathy Cotton
You were no 
pale morning moon
of a distant fire
no lifeless ball
circling round
another circling ball

You were a dazzling
radiant star
white light
red heat
destined to 

Some speck
of your last dust 
shot across
my darkened sky
and burst
into a wish


by Bonnie Manion
At the end of a small hall, up one
stairstep, its window overlooking
a still-used cobblestone Roman road
from days when Plovdiv was called
Trimontium, blue-veined marble walls
surround my hot bath floor to ceiling,
stretching also to the walls underfoot.
I soak in a claw-footed tub, perfumed
clouds of steam modestly fogging gilded
mirrors installed by nineteenth century
nouveau rich, who built their chateau
against timeless Roman brick city walls
in that birthplace of Alexander the Great
and the first of the Macedonian Ptolemy
pharaohs he installed in Egypt.
Cobalt veins twining through the marble
wrap about me as I recall my francophone
father's softly uttered sacre bleu! whenever
he muttered that famed rallying cry of
eighteenth century Parisian revolutionaries.
An American tourist, many could name
me a new blue blood, but Bulgarian
communism is long gone, and today
visitors support the economy here so
I fear neither ambush nor revolution. 
(Published by online Poetry Atlas)

The Tower at Giant City Park

by David Bond
Evenings from the tower's 
	checkerplated deck

eighty-seven nuanced treads
	corkscrewing up to where 

a swagger of sun kowtows
	into an aching forest

amber-spangled bluffs
	forts of dependable stone 

white birch islands 
	gleaming above

the purple coolnesses
	of sandhill springs

we stood 
	snared in the fretwork

of muscled shadows
	me an old man 

burnt with illusion
	you a blond cloud

a gift, a riddle.
	Around us nightwoods

sighed; closer, the scribbled
	writing on the tower itself

made us smile
	bodiless names

children hurrying to grow up
	petroglyphs laced with profanity

and what might be called love.
	Today heartsick

I watch you Subaru away
	without a backward glance.

This freedom
	takes some getting used to;

at times almost necessary
	but sad like aging.

Do you recall those initials
	within the pierced heart

of St. Teresa of Avila?
	The printed promise 

	in semi-permanent marker?

(Previously published in Big Muddy:
A Journal of the Mississippi River
Valley, Volume 7.2)

St. Joseph's Retreat Center, Room 8

by Wilda Morris
I have come away
from a noisy, violent world
to find peace and contemplate
the patterns of nature.
I am warned not to walk outside
because it is deer hunting season.
My window looks out on nothing
but a concrete corridor.
On the plain paneling hangs
a picture of St. George
thrusting his spear
into the throat of the dragon.
Over my bed, the cruelly
crucified Christ. I praise God
for the petite pink daisies
in the design of the quilt.

(First published in Wisconsin
Poets' Calendar, 2008)


by Candace Armstrong
Self, get thee to a seaside villa porch
where colors beat upon your sight like waves.
Wet sand to bury deep the heartbreak torch,
while space sets free snared pain from mental caves.

Take time to gaze on sea and sand the same
gray spectrum dank as all your moods have been.
Then feel the stinging salt your wounds inflame
until they can be covered once again.

The cat tail reeds lie flattened by the wind
and droplet memories evaporate.
But understanding well how much I've sinned,
these eyes seek out the vague horizon's gate.

I feel you pulse beyond the flat line's end 
and calmer now, I let you go again.

note: cic.a.trize – vb- to heal and form a scar,
         or cause to heal and form a scar (SIKe-triz)
(Previously published in The Lyric, Summer 2010)

The Abode

by Farouk Masud
From the darkness comes fear, anxiety:
An infernal realm of depravity.
Numb, emotionless,
Shadowy, shapelessness.
Horrifying, shocking,
Electrifying, mocking.
Amuse, behold.
Creeping, stalking,
In circles they're walking—
Real life nightmares unfold.

From the lightless day,
Hence they say,
Every which way,
Pain and decay,
Agonized dismay,
Complete disarray,
Sinners stray,
From the trail of grey—
Never to repent
Their evil intent—
Without faith they pray.

And the rain that falls 
Upon blood-soaked walls
Cleanse the mesh
Of burning, putrefied flesh.

No salvation,
Eternal damnation—
Fallen from grace
Into a volcanic place—
Demons in celebration.

All around I hear: 
Those suffering year after year.
All around I see:
Tortured souls all about me.
Eternally they will follow
In endless days of sorrow.

Consumed in fire they fry,
A never ending cry—
They will never die!—
For this is Hell!—
An abode most will dwell

The Sweetest Fragrance

by Irfanulla Shariff
The sweetest fragrance
What is it
Where is it
It is nothing
But the divine love
It is within us
This perfume of heavenly affection
Brings us closer every moment
The sensory aroma  
Dwells in our beautiful hearts
Once we feel it with immense devotion
Surely we will find it with the speed of light


by Alan Harris
Our sun
as seen by
the asleep
is a space
heater and
a day lamp
oh honey
how very
much we
are in it
and are it
and are and
forever are.

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