Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
October, 2019
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Poems on this Page:


by Jenene Ravesloot
He fidgets at the window. The tower clock's hands remind him of crossed swords. Doves flutter on the windowsill. Their wings sound like white gloves beating against the strings of an out-of-tune ukulele. This thin boy who fidgets at the window might grow up to be a savant with a taste for prosciutto ham from Gene's Sausage Shop. This boy might never learn his equations because he might suffer from ADHD. This boy might have autistic-like traits. But in the meantime, it is eleven o'clock in the morning and the hands of the tower clock are crossed and the boy has put away his white ukulele and white hatchet. He has a headache and longs for a wafer cookie, an embossed one, before he lies down on the long white couch where he will dream of the equations he might never learn. The hour is critical. The tower clock's crossed hands have stalled. Ignore the brilliant light on the opposite wall. Ignore its glare and flash. Bite into a wafer cookie, and press a wet rag against your forehead. A poet has decided your fate. The die has been thrown. An embossed wafer cookie rolls across the immaculate floor. The mirror is broken.

After Federico Garcia Lorca's poem "Suicide"
First Published by After Hours Press

Reunion Gathering

by Marie Samuel
We planned
Then met
And researched
Decisions many.

Were formed
And changed
Then finalized
The day arrived.

Our pasts entwined
Memories shared
Were tossed around
Adding much to our event.

Hugs, laughs, a tear or two
But surely none left blue
The stories told-some very old
Will live in hearts both near and far.

Til we meet to gather once again
Those remaining classmates few  
Will youthful years often recall
Hopefully caring, will keep on sharing.

Time Change, Capodarco

by Donna Pucciani
The clocks banish daytime
for another hour. Floriana
boils cabbage and potatoes
for tonight's dinner.

No internet here in the old 
farmhouse. We watch night 
cover a meadow full of sheep.
We rescue a baby gecko
from the bedroom wall,
drop it outside. 

We leaf through old newspapers,
wander the tiled floors, watch ibis 
dive from sky to pasture to pick
fleas off the sheep. We examine
the stunted olive trees, listen
for the sound of bees. 

We talk of grammar 
in two languages: the same
word for "ever" and "never." 
Autumn is restless 
as chicory webbing the hill.
Tomorrow, the sheep will be 
in another meadow.

(First published in Peacock Journal)

Keeping America Beautiful

by jacob erin-cilberto
i spill words everywhere
with not the decency 
to clean up my mess
leaving you to disinfect
the pages purloined
with improper verse
and vile verbiage
rabid rants
and accosting assertions
that leave only the properly vaccinated
to escape the diseased diction
i have carelessly
in poetic pretense.

To October

by Michael Escoubas
You welcome me on this first day of you
suggesting change is in the air, yes, in
the very air of you, so crisp and clean.
Coffee steams from my cup into your
welcoming arms, a lone buck grazes by
the forest's edge at ease because rut
is not here yet, trees glitter like Joseph's
coat sporting reds and golds, and coppers
mixed with lingering lime-green leaves,
chlorophyll still running.
			But it's me and you
that count; what we have together, knowledge
we both know: how the corn silks, black with age
call for harvest, the husks now turned to crepe,
the crisping off of everything, how all things
have a season, how all things have their time.
My coffee steams into your welcoming air;
how life is like your welcoming air.

Paradise Lost

by William Marr
no place to hide
here in Bahamas
everywhere is clear and bright
(now I know why
in the Garden of Eden
they saw their own nakedness)
the water so green
the cloud so white
the sky so blue

A Few Slow Winter Bees

by Kathy Cotton
Tillie is disappearing:  
threadbare edges of her spare frame 
scumbled beneath bleached cotton,

wisps of white hair haloed against 
her pillow, the spindly filaments 
that tether her here—

a teaspoon of food, sip of water, 
an unfinished sentence—
unraveling into moonlight. 

Her thin voice hovers 
close to colorless lips
like a few slow winter bees.

I lean close to listen, nudge near 
on the bed's edge, my unintentional 
touch answered only by her moan. 

From thin skin torn, a startling rosebud 
blossoms on the white sheet,
blood-red petals calling to the bees.

(from Encore Prize Poems 2019)

Request To My Reader

by Tom Roby
Start your search by yourself
but then find me
in some lost anthology
that the library forgot to remainder,
or in a chapbook 
gifted by an eccentric aunt,
searching without knowing
how to find my special page
so you can put your fingers
to your throat and feel our pulse
as you read me out loud,

and I will give you the right
to slit my page, pull your blade
across the binding, and cut
your thumb almost by accident,
careful that the blood spurt
won't blur the words you take,
learn by heart, 
tell to your closest friends,
so they will want these words,

will want to know about the dyed page
that you can say is our blood
in the flow of life
in mortality.

(First published in Shape Shifter,
Puddn'head Press, 2008)

Hidden Expressions

by Gail Denham
Voiced expressions, like last year's iris bulbs,
hide under ground till you can't find what 
you even want to think — let alone what 
thoughts should spring forth, emerging   
in full view of those who long for hope,
kindness, encouragement, wisdom.

Sealed inside with super glue are kind words,
joyous placards imbedded in your brain grooves; 
quiet, unable to break free from your 
oft-repeated platitudes, honed smooth
over a life time of pleasantness at all costs.

The Non-Event

by Charlotte Digregorio
same headline, four days,
ninety-nine degrees,
ninety-five percent humidity.
Sun glints through smog.

In the evening, I drench
the rhododendrons and soak
the brown, brittle grass
flattened by footprints.
Ants swarm in cracks on the patio.

The neighbor's load of bricks
on a disabled Mack truck
mars my view. Telephone lines trap
my "Celebrate 60" balloon.
No one calls.

On the porch, I braid my hair
with yellow hibiscus and await
my old flame's return,
drinking spiked pink punch.
My cheeks droop to my jaws.

He arrives disheveled an hour late,
handing me a withered lily
picked at my garden's entrance.
Too old to care, I empty my thoughts
and melt into molecules.

Laughter, the Best Medicine

by Idella Pearl Edwards
They say laughter is good for the soul,
But it's also good for the body.
It decreases blood pressure and stress hormones
And that is not too shoddy.

Ok, it's time to tell a joke.
Are you ready to be amused?
It's time for you to open your ears.
You are not excused.

"Rest in peace, boiled water.
You, my friend, will be mist."
Ha ha ha, did you enjoy your chuckle?
Now do you get the gist?

Surround yourself with people who laugh.
Laughter is contagious.
It makes no sense to dwell on the negative.
A lack of humor is outrageous.

Life can sometimes be a struggle,
But the truth of the matter is this...
When you add some laughter along the way,
Your life can be pure bliss.


by Lennart Lundh

It's the last day of the year.
All those years ago today, she walked
down the lengthening white aisle
into a different future than might have been.
The sound track to this memory,
to her life, comes from a movie
released before the first of her many births.
Love's primary element, just like that
of a long-remembered love song, is hope.
When the music's over, hope is gone.
And when hope is gone, the march is done.


It's the end of the year.
On a different day, years ago, he began
the journey we all set out on, moving
at our own pace, feeling in darkness
from one birth light to the next. Here,
at the end, the playlist is the same.
We focus our lives on recapturing
long-remembered love songs, playing
until our hopes and breaths are gone
with leaves we mistake for flowers,
grace notes hanging on the breeze.


by Wilda Morris
	If your banker breaks, you snap;
	if your apothecary by mistake sends you poison
	in your pills, you die. ~Ishmael (Chapter 72)
	Ending with a line from Chapter 13

Even here in the U.S., where Whitman, 
Emerson and Thoreau wrote of individuality 
and we are told to pull ourselves up 
by our bootstraps, it is true:
if the housing bubble bursts, your home
is worth less than your twenty-year mortgage.
If the stock market declines, your retirement fund bleeds.

You may be the safest driver in the state,
but if the teen in the Toyota texts or drinks
and drives, you end up under carved stone.
The drive-by shooter with bad aim may miss
the Gangster Disciple and hit your daughter instead.

If your young son runs to the park 
with friends, plays with the gun
Uncle Joe bought him from the Walmart toy department, 
and, even if it doesn't look real, someone 
in a blue uniform assumes it's loaded with lead 
you have to pick a casket and plan a funeral.

Someone assassinates an archduke in Austria,
Japan bombs a U.S. naval base,
North Korea sends troops across the 38th parallel,
Iraq invades Kuwait, planes flatten the World Trade Center—
if you pause and think it through, you know Queequeg was right, 
It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians.

From Wilda's book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick
(Kelsay Books, 2019)
Originally published in Pangolin Review (January 2019).

October Rush

by Mark Hudson
Started the day, deposited a check,
drank coffee like a nervous wreck.
Went to the post office mailed bills,
then I had plenty of time to kill.

Walked to downtown, last hot day,
went to Burger King, far away.
When I walked in, there was a rush,
I got in line and started to hush.

I realized the people were working fast,
I knew at a job like this I wouldn't last.
Speedy fingers cranking out burgers,
cashier getting exact change as a server.

I sat down, ate, I had forgotten,
that this type of food makes me feel rotten.
I saw all these people dining within,
I was shocked they were all thin.

Then I had to go to Quartet copies,
after eating burgers and getting sloppy.
When I walked in, another rush,
I sat down and let myself hush.

There were four of five people in line,
I waited my turn and didn't whine.
A girl helped me download my photos,
On the computer I got them though slow.

I selected five I wanted to print.
Where was the girl? I needed a hint.
Suddenly the manager bursts in the door,
sweat oozing out of every pore.

He can't see his glasses are so steamy,
he prints my photos, they are dreamy.
It looks outside like it will rain,
so I go home on the train.

I put my laundry in the washing machine.
And start reading a book by Stephen King.
On writing, his personal memoir,
a book I never have read before.

My sink is broken, I told the landlady,
they didn't fix it yet, it's crazy.
I'm in a puddle eating my dinner,
wondering if I'll ever be thinner.

Now it's late, it's time for bed,
I need a shower, but I'm writing this instead.
I wish they'd had time to fix my sink,
and I wish that my feet did not totally stink.

I have no girlfriend or wife to cuddle,
when I go in the kitchen, I step in a puddle.
I don't know how I'll sleep, it's too hot,
but it used to be summer, I just forgot.

It is October, the very first day,
All-Saint's day is very far away.
Will I make it one more year through Halloween?
I have to survive that, and the days in-between.

Final Stop

by Arthur Voellinger
As the children
neared the end
of trick or treating
They screamed
"This is the night
of Halloween"
Until one of the
group brought
silence to the air
With a dare
to visit the
meanest man
Who growled
whenever balls
bounced onto
his property
"We'll just shout
and run from
his porch"
was a suggestion
That found no
objection as
bravery became
the contention
For masked
suddenly hit
by a light
Switched on
by a monster
who quickly
erased fright
By placing
bags of treats
and baseballs
at their feet
And adding
a smile as
they returned
to the street


by Beth Staas
Powder and lint under the bed
impelled by the tiniest gust of air,
an airy dance to join,
then divide like amoeba
awaiting the next evolutionary step.

Your dog asleep on dander and fur,
a patina of silver and gold
soft enough to weave into a blanket
deflecting the nighttime chill.

Pictographs formed on the deck
by pollen and crusted seeds
borne on a lingering breeze of lilac,
a scent so sweet that one can barely breathe.

a speck on the DVD halting its rounds,
rephrasing the song that was sung at your wake
as my days become ashes, like yours.

Taotaomona (Tah-tah-mon-nah)

by Rick Sadler
A Halloween Poem
Almost all islands where people reside
Tell stories of superstitions that provide,
Answers for the unexplainable for say to
Respect of the unknown as I have no clue,
One such island is Guam with a strange story
Like the ancient Taotaomona without any glory,
They wonder in their purgatory about the island
Causing death and destruction by their hand,
Such an incident of the very haunted Carwash
A woman drove her car through the watery slosh,
The Flappers began to smash the car windows
Then grabbed the woman by the throat and shows
A man's face in the mist above which was laughing
With just two big dark holes for eyes and having,
A big oval dark mouth that was snarling and growing
In a loud animal unnatural sound of a wolf howling,
The next day they found the woman's body high
In the Rafters by the Flappers there was a great sigh,
Some say it was the wrath of the strange spirits
Called the Taotaomona so beware of their visits

Autumn Leaves

by Goldie Ann Farkonas
'Tis Autumn days once more, and bringing  season's beauty — of great hue,
To  see  the colors nature brings, magnificence — for all to view.
The Autumn leaves, now wrinkled, and are falling, humming — their "Good—Bye",
And some may still be dreaming  of past summer days,  now gone — with sigh.
But Autumn brings great pleasure in its dressings, crispy cool in trees — their gown,
Each Fall brings dress in colored leaves of yellow, orange, red and brown,
They glorify surroundings in a picturesque — of Autumn  hue,
And  do enchant  the scene  in colorful display, for all to view.

They're part of Nature's Plan, in helping others to survive and live,
Their— character, so genuine  to all — they grow, and then — they give.
The tree, still fertile, now, will sleep — in Spring,  again , will wake — and bud,
The tree's dried leaves, which fall, make room for those  to come in Spring — as flood.
For now, all leaves are swirling, as they  gently  leave the tree — in dance,
They keep  in graceful rhythm,  as the season's Northern wind — sings, chants.
They've spread  their joy  to children, as they run and jump with them — in play,
Do not be sad, for Autumn will return,  and once again — display.  

Now,  Autumn Days, become quite cool, and short, as well — 'tis Nature's  — sting,
And you, dear leaves,  do whisper to your Autumn friends, and then — you sing.  
You always bring  such happiness — in Spring, in Summer,  and in Fall,
Dear Autumn Leaves, we honor you,  your worthiness, and beauty — all.
All Autumn Leaves, now — wrinkled,  and are falling, humming — their "Good—Bye".
For trees do have — rebirth of life each year,  and leaves — do dignify.
'Tis Autumn days, once more, and bringing  season's  beauty — of great hue,
To see the colors  nature brings, magnificence — for all  to view.

My Last Poem

by Lucy M. Logsdon
I am the perfect poem—well
behaved. My lines arrange 
smooth as a well-worn trail. 
I cultivate my tone. No startling 
readers. Forbidden the sudden,
bloated opossum corpse. No
tangled thickets, chiggers, thorns.
A pastoral stroll until...
           Of course, there's an until;
there always is. Sudden wind. 
Temperature drop. Lightning strikes 
have been detected 2.1 miles from
this poem. Take shelter. Lightning 
strikes now detected .1 mile from 
this line. Severe weather pinpoints
exactly where you are. Hail
breaks through the stanzas'
canopies. A wind shear gusts
away thoughts. A mistake.
Fatal errors occur; tree limbs
crash. We have too much
muchness in this forest. 
Time to bushwhack out.
Poison ivy, ticks, copperheads, 
        No matter. They are you.  
This is where you roamed; this,
you know. Another hiker shouts over
the gale:  you appear to be struggling.
Perhaps you should turn back.
To the melancholy of my bed, 
nursing failing limbs, encroaching
immobility, a pillar of salt.
Give me what you've got.  
In this poem, I will walk until
I die. I will crawl on all fours
until I expire.  I will go out
as I came in. Naked.
Howling. Hole.            

My Mother's Lap

by Cassandra McGovern
I lay my head
in my mother's lap.
"Tickle my arm, please?"
She'd run slender fingers
wrist to elbow bend.
Our hazel eyes fluttered,
feigning butterfly kisses.

Mom lay in home hospice.
I lifted her hand,
our fingers interlaced.
Her mouth curled up 
from its straight line
her shoulders relaxed
when I kissed her goodnight. 

(Five Poets write about
Aging, Illness, and Mortality.
Pennywise Press, 2011.)

Time Tripping

by Sherri Baker
Hiding in plain sight I rolled right by,
didn't say hi or catch your eye. Maybe
you're thinking you heard me talking,
but I was already floating while you
were busy walking. I'm just a ghost caught
inside an illusion, watching your face fill
with doubt and confusion. Did you think you were 
prepared to view my dreams? Were you fully equipped to
withstand my screams? Could you possibly know
what was making me bleed? Or was it you who turned the 
sharpened screws that ripped my skin and tore my dreams?
Did you laugh as the blood rolled down like tears,
pulling my pieces apart for years upon years? Or 
was it you who put the ideas in my head,
making me think I was already dead?
I care not one bit for your sacred reality,
I've got my own dialogue, I possess duality.
I'm not here in the flesh, but I am in mind. 
My memories are packed, I left the rest behind.
Pay close attention and maybe you'll see, the motion
in your peripheral vision is the "friend" that you
pushed beneath the sea. Now watching 
the tide as it twists and turns, your guilt 
ebbs and flows with each of your lies. Flowing through 
your veins is it sickness you hear? The sounds only call
when no one's near. Are you going mad?
Do you think you might be dying? Or did you mistake me
for someone who was easily disposable? Know now, this
soul is not so easily avoidable. Time lends endless 
possibilities for me to enter the land of your mind.
I may be a sound or an occasional blip, a blast of color
on an empty page, or a picture emerging of an easier time,
ripping it away again and again until your heart screams out.
Yes, I'm waiting for you to eventually slip; until then 
I'm watching carefully with the knowledge that one day 
soon, I'll be laughing as I catch you
tripping on through.


by Carole R. Bolinski
It occurs when
looking back on one's life bios.
The special wedding day cards
or birthday wishes, a favorite photo
now yellowed and torn.
Those few seconds of numb
and then you're transported back
into real time.

And there you have it.
Those fleeting moments
put back in an envelope, a book
or on the computer.
And you wonder why
it bothered you so.

Old Dog Crossing

by Rafael Lantigua Medina
Driving to work
I see an old dog
crossing my way.
I slowdown to help.
He looks like an almost wrecked train,
maybe berated by age, hunger
or some abuser's bliss.

I flash the car's lights
to the driver coming
on the other side of the road.
And He slowdown too
and jerks his car's hazard lights
to me: Old dog crossing —it's a message—
And, Ooops...I forgot mine...
So I wink, careful... Hazard ahead.
Poor animal taking time
to cross the road
as a drunkard driver
with an expired license;
scared (maybe) by the thought of ...
who knows what?
He looks at me, not barking,
just saying, "Thanks" with tail and eyes.
——————————Well, I guess
we ALL could feel the same
at some point in life,
for sure, when death arrive
to redeem us, as someone said,
from primordial sins
we do not know, or want to.
So, I look at him
on the rear—view mirror,
chuckle and speed—up
Uhm.... I am late —the clock taxes me
but it is worthy.
He crossed safely
and I honk at the corner...
Anyway with joy and a good smile,
for better or worse, Yeah!

God Is Able

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Have there been times in your life when others have tried to box you in and label—
But you stand by your beliefs and say I heard what you said but God is Able!
Most adults are not into listening to stories or fables
So I am telling you the truth and that is God Is Able!
When your mind will not rest and your nerves are unstable,
Go ahead and give it on up to the Lord because God is Able!
When you can't afford to pay your car note, light, electric, water and the cable,
Don't cry, don't complain and don't curse anyone or anything because God is Able!
When you ordered a satiny and silky outfit online but when it arrived to your house it was corduroy and sable,
You have to give it on up and forgive look towards tomorrow keep on pushing and know that God is Able!  
When the people you trusted reveal themselves to be underhanded and not dealing above the table,
You hold on to His unchanging hand because you know that you know that you know that God is Able!
When you have relied on home remedies, soothsayers, doctors and kind words from your Aunt Mabel,
But the desires of your heart go unanswered go to where your strength cometh from bow down
	in prayer because God is Able!

Adagio, Sunrise

by Mary Jo Balistreri
Chimes ring in E major, and resonance 
echoes throughout the dark land. White light
climbs like fingered cello strings,
ascending ascending
adding nuance to each pastel hue.

The ridged, limbed oak is an arched bridge
over the dense notes of the valley. Blackbirds 
wing their curved grace above 
the complex modulation to breaking day.

Chords of ochre and fuchsia open
on the horizon while arpeggios play across
the pond. Air ripples with misted harmony. 

Everything adds its own timbre and tone
until the heart, enjoined,
beats its drum in the slow unfolding—
light's symphonic poem.

perfect goose Vs

by Tom Chockley
perfect goose Vs
oh but starlings
in free-form clouds

A Plethora of Pots and Pans

by Carol Dooley
Supper.  Again. 
She stood facing the lower cupboard.
"Put on the shield of valor," she muttered.
"Black skillet please be on top."

But what were the chances?
An odd lot of pots and pans inhabited
the cupboard.  Hand-me-downs, special sales,
a second pot purchased so one lid fit two pots. 

Lids.  They might be the real culprit.
Nobby tops, mismatched sizes.
She heard them jostling in the dark.

She grabbed the door knob
and pulled.  Jumped back
as two lids and four skillets
leaped to the floor.

"Hah!" she chortled, "Gotcha!"
And scooped up the black skillet
from the jumble.

Change Is for the Better

by Michael Talaga
It's funny how things can change
In just a blink of an eye
Why, Doreen is moving on up
And Mark is "Saying Goodbye"
So on behalf of the West Suburban Boys and Girls
Congratulations, Ms. Van Lee and Mr. Berls!
Every change is for the better with new directions
We will keep one and lose the other with sentimental affections
The Good Lord planned it this way for these two workers
Because he knows exactly what is best
No two ways about it, Jesus has us in his good hands
In him, we can always find our rest
Oh, this is gone to be quite a fun fest!
Change is for the better, although bitter sweet
Remember that the word of God is a lamp unto our feet
And a Light onto our paths wherever we again meet
Best wishes to each of you Mark and Doreen
Along the road of life, a spark is yet to be seen

Red Hair Haunting

by Marcia Pradzinski
I want to hold all that I lost that last week—
your fingers twirling the strands of my hair
and lips softly, softly scratching my cheek.
Your giggles that bubble into my dreams weak-
en darkness, lift the harsh memory of your bare
head.  Yet in daylight these visions just make me weep.
We watched Jungle Book, sometimes twice in a week,
your thigh hugging mine as we laughed at the Bear.
Oh, to once again feel your soft lips on my cheek
and hear your sweet laughter starting a streak
that rang in a room. Though it filled the sad air
it couldn't defend you, could not defeat
the lymphoma that sprouted so bold on your neck.
Hope against hope, could the chemo repair
you? We prayed, we prayed hard that last week.

Red ringlets collared your neck, a fire of leaves.
Now red hair just haunts me. I see it everywhere.
I try to hold all that I lost in that week.
Your lips softly, softly rest on my cheek.

(Previously published in Left Behind,
chapbook published by Finishing Line Press, 2015)


by Farouk Masud
I always feel like I'm drowning.

A relentless suffocation.
A constant asphyxiation.
An emotional strangulation.
A mental deterioration. 
A spiritual disintegration.

Gasping for air,
Swimming through a sea of despair—
Death is my solace, I'm almost there—
I know you don't care—
In anticipation, you just stare.

With your cold, brown, lifeless eyes
I've suddenly realized that you're just
Waiting for my demise.

And the bastard children
(Generation D, for Degenerate)
That laugh along with you,
Holding up their cellphones,
Recording my dying.

Farewell sad world,
I'm plunging into a better life,
Free from all of you.
And the memories of my existence?
Washed away with the moment.


by David LaRue Alexander
Coffee and me
      Could there ever be
A more perfect pair
We have one serious
                        love affair
There's no doubt about it
               I can't live without it
There are so many brews
                                   To choose
First thing in the morning
                        Got to have me some....
My first desire
Is to set it on fire
So I can smell (sniff)
That aroma
And tell....
It's going to be
Another perfect day
Because coffee
Will stay with me
All the way
Caffé Americano
Caffé Machiatto,
Only gourmet drips
Are getting past these lips
Black Ice is nice
Unless I need it hot
Then it's French Press
With a double shot
The Italian Teaser
Can be such a pleaser
But sometimes I desire
The Cinnamon Squire
And Darling
I hope it's okay
Because I'm not sharin'
My Chocolate Baron
I'm sorry
No way
The White Knight
Can be perfectly right
But make no mistake
Sometimes all I want
Is a Lady of the Lake
Lattes, frappes
How many ways can there be
I'm not sure
But it's never enough for me
And let's see
Did I mention
Frappuccinos, Cappuccinos
Or a Frosted CB
Now.... Maybe
Just maybe
You see what I mean
Nothing is as perfect
As the coffee bean

Meditation on Light

by Tom Moran
I cup a firefly
in my hand,
marvel at its
self-generating luminesce.
I let it fly
to join dozens of
other fireflies.
Together, they look like
an army camp burning
fires before a battle;
or maybe all the times
I knew 
you won't be here 
in the morning.

On State Street in Madison, WI

by Joseph J. Solberg
She was eight inches above
A sultry, hot summer sidewalk
On a taut rope tied to poles.

She stood on one foot, 
In stitched, faded pink shoes
As throngs scurried past.
Her right hand caressed 
A bow, and she adeptly
Kept steady by the bookstore

As she floated, small fingers
Flew and danced as Charlie
Daniels filled the air.

I turned toward the crowd.
How little scrutiny she drew amidst
Jugglers, spray paint artists, mimes

And the steamy August scents
Of cheeseburgers, and brats
Overflowing with sauerkraut. 

When in life does an aspiring
Musician keep her dreams aloft
By leaving the ground in Madison?

When in life did I fall to
Earth, surrendering my guitar, 
Baseball glove, and journal?
I ambled on by, captivated
By a bagpipe player in a kilt,
Forgetting to leave a dollar.


by Jill Angel Langlois
Forcing the trauma, the events,
the knowledge and the memory down —
burying it deep,
covering it with smiles,
watering it with tears.
Digging it up at random, when alone,
even when reliving it again and again
is too painful;
forcing it, then, down deeper,
smothering it like a flickering bed of coals.
Building a wall over the years
to hide the glowing embers
still smoldering deep inside —
building taller and wider,
yet, aching for a door or a window.

Faerystruck Down

by Jason Sturner
In the rolling fog of the purple sea
Where slugs infest the ridge
	And breeze-bent heather
	Tethers ghosts of the drowned

Beyond the threshold of the mind
Where sea hags howl at the moon
	And shapes unseen
	Sneak away human babes

Lies the maritime trail I was warned not walk
Urged by patrons of the old pub
To return to America, and be gone at next breath:
	"For too tempting is the tourist from afar!"

But I split my sides at their heathen pleas
Doused their cares with whiskey and ale
Till after a spell, I was cheered out of town
	Pushed along streets of leaping whispers

So onward to accursed shores I went	
Bold with humor and the prod of drink
	Where fish-lipped merrows in cohuleen druiths
	Leered from frothy kelp isles

And the mutterings in belch-bogs grew ever near . . .
And the perverted, creeping shadows . . .

I will never forget their dream-drenched faces
As they sang and danced and picked over my end
Goblets high in the salty spray of the purple sea
	Where many a mortal bone now rests in the deep

And in my last moments of earthly acquaintance,
Head a pivot and lit with fires green,
They branded my soul to the tongue of lore
	Forever to break out madly from seaside lips

From The Hunchback's Captive and Others:
Stories and Poems of the Darkly Fantastic
(Fairy Thrush Press, 2019)

Hotel du Danube Saint Germaine

by Bonnie Manion
Recommended by an old friend, a forty
year resident of Paris, we booked this 
rive gauch Inn a month before our tour 
of Europe.  Arriving last of all to the 
City of Light, we approached at night, 
in the rain, on a narrow crowded rue.

The dapper gentleman at the front 
desk was expecting us.  We took the 
dated elevator connecting two discrete 
buildings to our room on le tres etage, 
going out the west rather than the east
door which lead to other plus-half floors.

The room fronted a courtyard, its décor 
once the height of luxury.  Our bedroom 
was small but pretty, and the Paris staff
exceptionally helpful and friendly.

Best of all, we spied a plaque high
upon the wall outside the entrance
to our Inn; en francais its momentous 
but inauspicious announcement is here
paraphrased:  This is the place where 
The Treaty of Peace between England 
and its former American Colonies was
signed in 1783, for the United States by
Ben Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay.

(Published by Poetry Atlas online)


by Alan Harris
When every somewhere
falls away and all
nowheres turn into
the main everywhere—
where is there then
to go but quiet
into here?

When love turns
to sand without
any other in view
and nobody cares
except groanings
of self—
might quiet
no thinking
deep breathing be
salve enough
to allow tomorrow?

When demands on
time money time love
time patience time
agonize the brain
choke all muscles
as deadlines approach
like freight trains
honk-honking beware
of broken futures
at whatever is you—
does a chair
still exist in
a quiet room
for a fortunate
does air
still surround
for a breathing—
does the quiet
beneath all crash
of all brain
embrace you
for as long
for as long
for as long?

From Just Below Now

More ISPS Poems | Haiga Gallery

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