Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December 2003
Home Page
Poetry Competition
ISPS Member Poems
Poem Index by Poet
Poem Index by Title
Poet Bios
ISPS Member Books
Submitting Poems
About ISPS
To Join ISPS
Other Sites

Search only ISPS site
More ISPS Poems

Poems on this Page:

The Dance

for Barbara
by Mardelle Fortier
She danced with her lover
as music surrounded her…
and that masterful arm on her shoulders.
She let him possess her
fully, his iambics flooding her lonely heart.

Oh, incomparable lover
whispering in her ear
as they circled the ballroom floor;
telling her of history, songs,
and the ancient mysteries of the human heart.

Her long skirts rustled silken as sonnets
and they spun fantasies together
while violins blessed their union
and she watched him, dreams in her blue eyes,
love of words and rhythms in her youthful soul.

Still they danced through scenes, acts, masks,
secrets unmasked. In shadows and mist he was
almost invisible except for his suit
of black velvet; his stance
seemed both romantic and tragic.

Their future seemed written
with quill pen in blank verse. Faster they
whirled with Elizabethan grace.
We could not see
the face of the girl's master…then he faded.
Were they fated never to meet in the flesh?
Yet she carried him in her heart--
year after year.

Later we learned the name of her lover--


by Michelle True
I do not exist.
I have no name.
I have no identity.
I am a number.
I am a fingerprint.
I am a strand of dna.

I am a face in the crowd.
I am a shadow on the wall.
I am a ray of sun through the clouds.
I am a drop of rain in the ocean.
I am a blade of grass in the meadow.
I am a flake of snow on a mountain.
I am a moon beam in the night.
I am a whisper in the wind.
I am a star in the universe.
I am a flight of fancy.
I am a figment of imagination.

I can't be seen, heard,
smelled, touched,
tasted or sensed.

I am everywhere.
I am nowhere.
I am everything.
I am nothing.
I am everyone.
I am no one.

I am anonymous.

Bozenna in the Polish Home

by James Conroy
     An old book of a woman with brittle yellow pages but a
love story. Since many years she hasn't traveled to her sister's
home. They had different fathers and he was the same man.
After burying two husbands she concluded women of different
worlds have more in common than brothers of the same house.
Would prefer death smell of oranges and cloves not lilies and
lanolin. And she remembers as the troops came reaching for
her daughter's hand but it was full of wild berries and only
wanted to know their names.
     "Afraid?" she responded. "No, dear. Wherever there is
shadow there is a source of light."


by James L. Corcoran
Crisp freshness this morning
Waiting for the snow
A lot of burdens strapped to backs
About a sidewalk needs clearing
Overnight the rain turned white
Drifting down in tiny drops of water
Freezing in the atmosphere
Floating in the air
Everywhere the crystal sounds
In the movements of gray light
Scattered through moments
Of midnight speculations
Winding up the pristine recollections
On future children's faces
Riding through the virgin cover
In early morning rays
Tasting what the clouds did
On the tip of a tongue

The Longest Night

by John Quinn
Passion can hardly hurry stars in flight.

Alone, I can't ignite tomorrows dawn.

I watch the moon crabwalk across the night.

When love arrived, it felt so good and right!

Its first touch trembled like a new born fawn.

Passion can hardly hurry stars in flight.

The joy we shared by sharing sound and sight,

long forest walks or picnics on the lawn

I watch the moon crabwalk across the night.

But some lack of mine, perhaps, some slight

chased you -- my light. Suddenly, love was gone.

Passion can hardly hurry stars in flight.

Griefs not easy, for sure, lifes harshest bite.

There is no salve, but time. It takes too long!

Passion can hardly hurry stars in flight,

I watch the moon crabwalk across the night.

Silver-White Memories

by Barbara Cagle Ray
Deep within my memory lives an image,
Of a Winter morning many years ago.
I went dashing to the frosted window pane,
To admire the swirling flakes of snow.

The creek's surface was solidly frozen,
And icicles glittered in the morning light.
Oh, what a picturesque scene I recall--
Majestic memories of silver-laced white.

In the distance stood a lofty mountain top,
With evergreens robed in pearl-tipped gowns.
They stood so stately and reached so high,
Surely they touched Heaven with their crowns.

All the uphill trails were snowed over,
And I could see the eagles sailing high.
If God had given me their mighty wings,
I would have soared upward to the sky.

As a child, I loved frosted mountain tops;
A marshmallow world was a pure delight.
Thru the years I've begun to love them more--
Now God has also crowned me silver-white.


by Sister Meg Holden, FSP
Gloomy, cold day.
The sun has gone away.
O sun, come out from behind
the clouds of gray.
Shine on the world today.

What Christmas Really Means

by Larry Turner
This verse play, written in the poetic form Kyrielle, is intended to be used in worship services, to stimulate thought and raise issues to be dealt with elsewhere in the service. Any church wanting to use this poem in the Advent 2003 or 2004 season may do so if it acknowledges Larry and Donna Turner as the authors.

(Mother SR, Daughter Center, Mother-in-Law SL, all with telephones. Mother dials. Daugher picks up her phone.)

Mother: Wanda, Darling, how's the baby?
May I hear the voice of Jeanne's?
Can't your family be here, maybe?
Christmas comes. Know what that means?

Daughter: We need to start our own traditions,
Popcorn strings and evergreens.
Year by year, the repetitions:
That's what Christmas really means.

Mother: I need children in these places,
Darling little kings and queens,
Bright-eyed little cherub faces:
That's what Christmas really means.

Daughter: At baking I'm among the rookies,
One who cannot cook, just cleans.
Please come teach me to make cookies:
That's what Christmas really means.

Mother: I can't leave our church this season:
Christmas pageants, holy scenes,
Anthems, carols, that's the reason:
That's what Christmas really means.

Daughter: Can't leave here--I'm not complaining--
Christmas party at the Deans,
Constant business entertaining:
That's what Christmas really means.

Mother: I've called Mary, Alice, Chrissie,
All your friends from in your teens.
Seeing old friends you've been missing:
That's what Christmas really means.

Daughter: I will book your reservations. (covers mouthpiece)
Packed in coach seats like sardines.
Flight delays and cancellations:
That's what Christmas really means.

Mother: Dear, your father's death last autumn
Blew my life to smithereens.
Christmas makes me hit rock bottom:
That's what Christmas really means.

Daughter: Wait, Mom, someone else is calling. (hits flash button)

M-i-L: I've been planning in-betweens!

Daughter: Mother K! I can't be stalling…

M-i-L: Christmas! You know what that means!

M-i-L: You must be here two days early:
When Sam does the tree, it leans.
Don't you love this hurly-burly!
You'll bake pies and fix green beans.

M-i-L: I've made all the gift assignments.
You buy for Aunt Josephine's.
All these family entwinements:
That's what Christmas really means.

Perchance to Dream

by Pat Petros
Wind chimes are silver tongues.
Enchanted I lie dreaming

black-robed sheiks on camels
rocking across the desert sand

temple bells in Tibet, red-robed priests
solemnly walking up a mountain path

wave-bouncing ships--their hulls filled
with gold and spices from Africa

street cars, clanging and rumbling
around San Francisco's slant-streets

the sentinel clock in the hall,
patiently ticking and chiming

bluebells, silently sharing
melodies only I can hear

celestial messengers,
ringing heaven's bells.

A Place Alone

by Sally Calhoun
I found a place where I could be alone that day,
far from the campus, on the other side of town,
by the edge of a deep ravine where sun had warmed
the rock I sat upon, and far from the face of the one who had hurt me so
I wasn't sure I could continue to draw breath.
Somehow, in this place, I found myself at peace
for the first time in many months. Here there was release,
as I had brought a pen and pad along.
I poured out all my grief, and do not remember now
just what I wrote. To have such sorrow at nineteen
is nothing to write home about. This seemed to be a neutral ground,
and thus a fitting place for one hour in which to dwell
and nurse what had been almost a mortal wound.
I speak of this now to reassure those who,
like myself, have been captured on the cusp 'twixt Night and Day,
and must simply wait it out, and, if fortunate, may
find someone with whom to talk, until such time
as the tattered fragments of one's heart and mind might mend,
with seams, pockets, buttons, and a friend.

Nature drew me, with bright light, through the needle's eye again.

An hour was all I stayed. Then I returned
to face the academic challenge of the day,
refreshed, at least enough to stay
and struggle with the papers and the books.
As I reached the edge of campus town
other students flocked about. Some I knew, some I did not,
and, silently, I was absorbed again into the melting pot.

More than forty years have passed,
and still I know
what it was like that fateful day, so very long ago.
Then I could not see
the many years that would stretch out in front of me,
with love, career, and family.
Bad times, good times, mostly on the rise,
not without some days with dark and even fearsome skies.
But in all these years there has never been a time
when I have needed as on that day so desperately to find
a quiet place in which to be alone.

Seven Minutes before the Bombs Drop

by Jared Smith
…Everyone still has names.
Sand is gritting against my eyes when the wind blows,
scraping counterpoint to the dry coughs of my son beyond the wall.
There is no medicine that will help this, I think,
but music is playing on a radio down the street.
Everyone I know will be gathering there:
we will barter for what we need; trade scraggly chickens or dates for shoes;
trade shoes for drinking water before the sun gets high.
I will seek medicine among my friends.

Seven minutes before the bombs drop
we are sitting in the dim lights of a church reading poetry
talking with words meant for little animals we might keep tethered
or lock into our kitchens so they will not soil the rugs while we sleep.
Between the words, though, we are talking of other things,
are bartering whether we will wear chains about our necks
or will make it into old age in one piece ourselves;
and we are reflecting on the words of other solitary thinkers
who talked of war while drinking cognac in bomb shelters in the blitz.

Seven minutes before the bombs drop
we are crying, running, our bladders filled,
our muscles quickening as never before in Kansas,
and we thump our open hands down on throbbing metal fuselage.
We throw ourselves into cylinders that have only one direction to go.
The painted gray of the runway trembles, breaks loose, and falls away;
becomes the endlessly wide sere blankness of the sea…and then light
will begin beneath our wings. Sand into sand and dust into dust.
Testosterone may be a great thing, but it does not last without love.

I am going to go home when this evening ends
and sit with my wife and children around the dinner table;
we will light candles as a centerpiece, and we will drink wine.
I will turn the CD player on low and listen to the ancient songs;
the songs that are no longer written, and will cry.
Yes, I'm going to go there down the highway in my '96 Lumina;
faster than I should, outside the law, but in my Lumina.
That's okay; you can come too. You come too; there is no guilt
in holding onto each other in our despair through the miles;
there is no guilt unless we ever re-elect the darkness that envelopes us.
We are the light, if only by the choice of fate and mystery of words.

Lake Louise

by William Marr
so delicate
so vulnerable
in a chamber
deep in the high mountains


there's got to be a sign
guarding this little girl
of God


Mind Drawer

by Gwen Ames
If my mind would behave
and lie flat and smooth
like my freshly washed linen
hung on the line to dry
until it was time to steam press
the wrinkles the sun left,

I would fold my memories and fears,
along with my worries,
and tuck them into neatly stacked rows
like my sorted, colored socks,
and close
the drawer.

Five Definings

by Alan Harris
awfullywhere above,
is ours to
(of course)
share with
(whoever may be)

much underrated,
(all the same)
holds up
(whatever may be)
the sky.

sky and earth
in a goodly
(feel the flow)
mix holding
(want them in vain)
all unholdables.

doorway to
the back
(way back)
stairs leading to
(wherever may be)

life sharing
light hearts
(and heavy)
without benefit
(or hindrance)
of shouldness.

More ISPS Poems

Copyright Notice: Copyrights for all of the above poems remain with the individual authors. No work here is to be reused without permission from its author. To request permission, contact a member of the ISPS Web Committee.