Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December 2009
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This Room

for L.S. a spiritual guide
by Patricia Gangas
I do not own my own heart,
it travels on to endlessly high Heavens.
You do understand that—don't you?
I am wildly pleased to have you rummage
among old shadows and ghosts
helping me return, at last, to my own nothingness.

This room is filled with jadeite beauty,
daffodils, tulips turning,
marshalling my spirit to soar.
Here in this silence, I fathom the unfathomable,
without seeing, without looking through a window.
Mysteries untangle
as you bear witness to God's power,
His tip-toe movements in my soul.

Heaven and earth have merged
in this nameless afternoon,
as sanctified thoughts spread like grass
on the lawns of spring.
Do you not know that bark when stripped
reveals the tree's essence?

In the uncommon air, awe flares;
I fly like a bird, finally free
soaring into the new spring winds.

Thanksgiving Prose

by Mark Hudson
When Julian Cox was a little kid
His grandfather was a quaker farmer
Raised different farm animals
For the market. He raised
Cows and chickens, and pigs.
He'd raise them for the
Slaughterhouse. But one year,
One of the pigs gave birth to a runt pig
A tiny piglet too small to sell, so his
Grandfather kept it as a pet, and he
Loved it. It would run around and play,
He'd feed it scraps, and when he'd pet it,
It would roll over on it's back and put
It's feet up in the air like a dog. The
Cows gave milk and the chickens laid
Eggs. The cats killed mice and the
Dogs kept predators away. But the
Runt pig was his grandfather's pet,
And one thanksgiving, Julian,
Travelled with his family to the farm
Got out to greet them, and the dog was
Really happy to see them, running around
And barking, and the pig that we hadn't seen
Came running out of the barn, and was
Greeting them also. The dog bumped into the
Pig, and the pig rolled over on its back
And put its feet up in the air. And the
Dog looked at the pig, and thought it
Had killed it. So the dog was afraid and
Ran away. So they said to the grandfather,
"What'll we do? The dog ran away?"
And he said, "He just thinks he killed the
Piglet; he'll come back after a while."
And he didn't come back, so the
Grandfather had to find him, and bring him
Back on a rope. When the dog came back
He was surprised to find he hadn't killed the piglet.
Doctor Solomon told the story, that might've
Happened as long as a hundred years ago,
And his family was celebrating thanksgiving,
And bought a turkey. And in those days when
You bought a turkey it was a live turkey. So
They got the turkey home from the market,
Put it up in the attic, and planned to serve
The turkey on thanksgiving day! They were
Going to take the turkey and chop its head off,
Cut the feathers out, and serve the turkey!
They didn't have supermarkets like they do
Today. So on Thanksgiving they went up to
The attic to kill the turkey, apparently they
Were chasing the turkey around, and the
Turkey escaped through a window. The
Turkey flew over the city streets, and it
Landed on top of a street car which in
Those days were electric, there were
Electric wires above the street, apparently
The turkey hit one of the electric wires
And got fried! These stories may sound
Hard to believe, but they are true!
Happy thanksgiving!

My Flower to Victory

by Rick Sadler
The  flower  before   my   graduation
You  were  there  with  me
Meant  more  than  all  the  adulation
You  couldn't  see  my  crush  was  showing
The  way  I  looked  at  you
We  were  just  Teenagers  still  growing
I  saw  you  it  was  love  at  first  sight
I  couldn't  stay  away  from  you
Your  long  dark  hair  in  the  sunlight
We  share  our  lives  with  our  adoptions
My  beautiful  sister  I  think  of
The  story  of  our  lives  and  our  options
I  kepted  my  feelings  in  my  mind
That  you  might  be  turned  away
I  just  wanted  you  to  treat  me  kind
There  are  many  different  kinds  of  love
If  only  I  could've  told  you
I  prayed  for  your  love  to  God  above

Dedicated to: Victory  Lynn  Stader

The Observer

by David McKenna
The Observer, part 2 of 2
The Observer, part 1 of 2

Alien Abduction

by William Vollrath
The stars were bright
The night was clear
A crisp Midwest setting
When the strange thing appeared
Bright lights shining
Loud hum felt to one's bones
It hovered quite magically
Above me alone
Then, suddenly transported
Up through the air
I'm quickly surrounded
Aliens waiting to share

Probing my body
Cosmic answers they seek
Then remove my brain lovingly
For their fine soup of the week

Cooley High in Reverse

Dedicated To Ben Wilson of Simeon High School
by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Sometimes I watch the '70's movie 'Cooley High' in reverse
Because for me the ending is the worst.
I figure if I view it backwards, the main character Cochise can rise up and be with his friends,
Preach and Pooter and the boys could all have fun cutting classes and joy riding and throwing caution to the wind.
The guys could all go to quarter parties, prom and graduate,
They'd stand on the corner and sing and drink cheap wine and never
meet such a twisted fate.
Then Martha wouldn't have had to raise that hatchet,
The two women that Chise and Preach duped wouldn't have a habit.
Their teacher, Mr. Mason wouldn't have wasted his breath or his time,
Preach's girlfriend, Brenda wouldn't have fallen for a line--
Of poetry and pure testosterone,
And the two villains Robert and Stone
Would slide back into their holes and no one would know where they are,
And the world wouldn't lose another ghetto super star.
Cochise could get his basketball scholarship to college and go on to make Chicago proud,
He'd be ranked up there with Michael Jordan somewhere in the clouds.
But I am dreamer...
Yep, sometimes, I watch the movie Cooley High in reverse,
Because I'd rather see Cochise having fun than lying in a hearse.

Winternet Banter

by John E. Slota
Winternet Banter; A *com in Santa's E-mail Bin from
Holicrafts Under Motion Bureau of U.F.O. Governance

(Yule Log Entry No. 04_By: John E. Slota)
To: Santa.Claus@npol*com Dear Santa, Regarding your flight this Christmas Eve, Please be advised you're grounded, DON'T LEAVE! You're marked "UNFIT FOR AVIATION" See attached list of Violations: 1) Rudolph's NOSE RADAR's way out of date. 2) Your Sleigh's payload is well overweight. 3) That climb down the chimney could cause fire. 4) Milk, carrots, and cookies found expired. 5) "Land on Roof" Training is overdue. 6) Blitzen's emissions: TUNE HIM UP…WHEW! So please bring yourself back up to CODE Or Stay put in your humble abode. Respectfully, H.U.M.B.U.G. To: Humbug@npol*com Dear Sir or Madame, Your agency is way out of line! I've run my shop since the Dawn of Time! In response to your accusations, See my list of Justifications: 1) Rudy's Schnozzola's Rated Fore'er. 2) My sleigh is buoyant, it FLOATS ON AIR! 3) Re: chimney, my suit's insulated. 4) I toss ALL food that's found outdated. 5) "Land on Roof" Training? HA! WE HOVER! 6) Blitzen…Well…OK…No Beans, Brother! Respectfully, S. Claus p.s. as it turns out this story has a Very Merry Ending. To: Santa.claus@npol*com It appears Santa, there's a Grandfather Clause With which you may circumvent all of our laws. Your compliance though, is appreciated. You're free to fly, You're exonerated! Merry Christmas, H.U.M.B.U.G

At the Beach

by Herb Berman
The breeze is blue off the lake,
the shadow of the willow the green of forever
and the goldfinch in the blueberry bush 
a yellow sun-bright song.

Maybe gray is incurable
but when yellow and green
dance out over my vast blue-water dreams 
and vanish
let me lean into fog,
sink into gray,
summon color for my poem.


by Paul Wolf
A boxcar sits alone
The door open for all to see
An old car
made of rough, wooden boards and steel

Enter and the boards scream
sounds you never want to hear.
Ears are punctured with the sounds.

The boards stink
with the smell of human waste
sweat, urine, feces.

The boards have faces
Gaunt, with eyes terrified
wondering if they will die.
Pleading eyes, pointing eyes.


Momma's Sewing Circle

by John L. Axtell
I heard, through the grapevine of course, 
         that the widow, two doors down, 
         tried to socialize with all 
         the proper young ladies and
         join Mamma's Sewing Circle — 
         but when some of the townfolk 
         saw total strangers entering
         her house and staying quite a while, 
         then Mamma's friends voted
         to keep her out of all 
         the town's social activities.

I heard, through the grapevine of course, 
         that the widow, two doors down, 
         runs a house of ill repute, 
         where there is drinking
         and other ways to carry on. 
         She said it was caused by the gossip,
         but Mamma's Sewing Circle said 
         that don't account for the music 
         heard coming through the window 
         or the laughing or crying 
         when we were trying to sleep.

I heard, through the grapevine of course,
         that the widow, two doors down,
         hung herself in the bedroom 		
         a couple of night's ago. 
         When they opened the locket 
         she always wore around her neck
         they found a picture of a sailor. 
         A sheriff's deputy told young Jim 
         it was her brother who'd  bring home
         shipmates with him when he was on leave. 
         The ladies in Mamma's Sewing Circle 
         still say her visitors were all total strangers 
         and we know they are never wrong.

I heard, through the grapevine of course,      
         that the woman, two doors down, 
         who moved into the widow's house, 
         just arrived from some foreign country — 
         and you should hear what
         Mamma's Sewing Circle 
         is saying about her.

I Can Hear You Now

by Susan T. Moss
He must have been considering
more than our sporadic visits
with wine and conversation or day
trips to museums in neighboring cities.

Months of meeting during the week
but rarely Saturday allowed
for personal travel and other
people in our dating lives.

So it was confusing when three
nights before Christmas he arrived
with a large package and no hint
of how we had come to that.

A little pottery bowl meant
for a friend's birthday changed
course and became my small
overture to his grander gesture.

The big red-ribboned box held
two wooden speakers for my stereo -
clearly our relationship had grown
by several decibels.

The Moon

by Farouk Masud
The titanic, ghostly moon glows.
Without words you speak with silver prose;
You throb like an evanescent heart--
A slow, rhythmic work of art.
Tonight, my soul will fly and swim
Through the vibrant aura round your rim.
Standing before such grandeur I cower,
For having witnessed such awesome power.
You've brainwashed me with infusions
Of sad and happy delusions.
Sometimes you make feel so wild,
Sometimes you make me feel like a child.
In a citadel, I sleep and dream
Of millions of moons that scatter and scream.
I submit unto thee to devour,
For having witnessed such awesome power.
An ethereal essence--you're divine!
An empyreal presence--you're a shrine!
I can't help but laugh and smile
At your unique and mystical style.
Without you, time would stand still--
Then what else would I have left to kill? 
Let this be my dying hour,
For having witnessed such awesome power.

Work Is My Vacation!

by David LaRue Alexander
I'm so busy, I'm so busy!
I get dizzy, I get dizzy!
Running back and forth, here and there,
to and fro, and everywhere.
Wake up early, jump in the shower.
Be at work in just over an hour.
Coffee, then make-up, kids out of bed.
Get 'em all dressed, make sure that their fed.
Drop one to the sitter, the others to school.
Quick trip to the station, forgot to buy fuel.
Make it to work with just minutes to spare,
Rush through the door, I'm so glad to be there!
For my duties at work I can easily manage,
It's the rest of my life I'm at a disadvantage.
So work is far more than just my occupation,
compared to my life, it's like a vacation.


by John Pawlik
Look how those two
Still manage to soar
Above themselves
The lives they actually have
How they fly
Alone together
In a sky only they
Can see
Poor still
Foolish birds
They glide and gyre
In and through
A special blue all their own
While the world below
Wholly indifferent as usual
To who they are
Simply goes on its way
Yet where on this planet
Could they attempt to light
That wouldn't do harm
To such fragile invisible wings
Staying in an air
As only belongs
To the both of them now
As long as they can is all
They can hope to do
Their joy in being
More again than either alone
Could have been just before
As if it were possible
To never land

A Debt of Gratitude

by Chris Holaves
A debt of gratitude is love unpaid
Or owed but never quite rendered in full
For clichés said sound empty if not cruel
To families of the dead in graves laid.

A debt of gratitude is a check of blank phrases:
"Thank you!" "We deeply appreciate it!"
"They made the supreme sacrifice."-- A writ
To suffer and die so we won't be in more mazes.

When the cause is hollow or true but filled with dead,
We still feel cheated; no debt of gratitude
Can bring back those killed that keep this country.

The heart and soul feel it, but not the head
As tears and words pour forth our attitude
Of a brave land struggling to be free.

This debt of gratitude can never be fully paid.
Guilt and pain thrust us barefoot to mourn and wade.

(First published by The Rock River Times) 

At the Laundromat

by William Marr
a laundry bag
with smelly
of the gone week
he begins his ritual--
emptying contents
into the washer
adding bleach
and detergent
closing the lid
putting three coins in the slots

the recycle
of another week

The Legend

by Mardelle Fortier
She hovers in chilled air like a jeweled creature
half-girl, half-bird.  In the dimness the skater
flutters, on the scented feathers of jade-green.

Below her the frost flickers like fuchsia,
transforming into passion flowers. She flies
as if she has always lived in an inspired world.

Violins carry her like wind, lightly then stormily;
she lives three lifetimes in one brilliant, piercing night.
She spins in a glorious finish like a peacock's tears.

(Prairie Light Review, Spring 2008)

Out of the Storm

by Bonnie Manion
the phone call came, summoning him
to a feat of bravery he didn't choose,
but accepted sagely.  Told the road
was closed by snowdrifts, her phone
unanswered hour after hour, only he
able to check on our elderly neighbor.
He prepared quickly, the essentials
gathered by his anxious children:
a short-handled ax, flashlight, their words
of encouragement.  Another sweater,
warmest coat, buckled boots and
the family's thickest knit cap.  Then,
in benediction, around his head I
wrapped a woolen scarf, bright red
for courage, for hope.  My eyes spoke
my admiration, my worry, as the door
opened to a blustering flurry, and then
he was gone.  Immediately drowned
in the howling slurry that hit him
with a stinging fury.  As trees moaned,
bent in the shrieking wind, one child
wailed her dark worry, Will Daddy die?
We huddled in a hug, waited and paced,
each exacting minute a harrowing space.
I peered in turn into the white wilderness
and each worried face.  At last a figure
appeared in the distance, contrasting
dimly to the blizzarding lash.  The lone
shape slowly enlarged and darkened
amidst the snow swirl and howling wind. 
It was him!  Battered with a crust of ice,
pummeled, windblown, and chilled
to the bone, he slogged doggedly home.
Found our neighbor well, her phone dead.

Death by Chocolate

by Wilda Morris
I laughed when first
I saw it on a menu.
Sounds good, I said,
and ordered some
to share with Mother.
It was too luscious
to waste, but so rich
we took half or more home.
Little did I know then
of real death by chocolate:
the fate of Aly, age eleven,
trafficked from Mali
to Ivory Coast, forced
to work from dawn
to dusk wielding a machete
against the hard shells
of cocoa pods,
spraying pesticides on trees.
I didn't know Aly
was half-starved,
beaten each time he fell
beneath a huge bag of cocoa beans
he carried on his head,
locked at night into a small room
with eighteen other boys,
little air, a can for a toilet,
nightmares his closest companion,
so I could enjoy chocolate.

(First published in the Rockford Review)

It's a new season!

by Syreeta L. Williams
A season of joy and 
vibrant celebration.
It's time for reflection
and making our new year

It's a season for hot 
chocolate topped with warm
marshmallow drops.  It's 
a time for bright christmas trees, 
presents and stockings filled with 
all kinds of goodies beneath 
smoky chimney tops.

It's a season for good food, 
fun, music and glorious singing.
A season for caroling, santa
suits and sleigh bells ringing.

It's a time of sharing, caring
and acknowledging love.  
And most of all!  It's a time
to be thankful for every gift received
and blessing sent from above.

Happy Holiday!

Brotherhood Lost

by Stanley Victor Paskavich

There he sits in an alley with his finger in a can for the last drop of grease,
wearing pieces of a uniform which once stood for pride and supported peace.
This lost homeless soldier once was so gallant and brave,
now often he sits chilled and hungry awaiting his grave.
Soldiers are trained to be brave and look fear eye to eye,
thousands are homeless laying in alleys wishing to die.
Countless money is spent teaching men how to survive,
yet, when they return to the Urban's they live barely alive.
Employers sometimes won't hire a veteran mainly out of fear.
They're stuck on the movies where a soldier cuts a man ear to ear.
Soldiers are trained to rise to the call,
they're not blood thirsty maniacs wanting bodies to fall.
All soldiers are told to have faith in their leaders and God up above,
I salute you my comrades and pray you find serenity, peace and love.
It's not just our leaders that need to make the plan
our veteran's need help from each and every woman and man.
Maybe the churches could kick in a few bucks too,
for the sacrfices those made for GOD country and you.

The Middle Way

by Alan Harris
When the possible
splits inelegantly
into yes and no
or love and hate
or life and death,
a maybe may be
found in a flower
around the corner,
already half opened
and aromatic.

If a mindbox
has been closed,
sealed with tape,
and addressed for
a wrong journey,
the stewing inside
may blow it open
along a road up
to now unseen--
new steps await.

When any love
demands any hate
and gets its way,
that way is poison,
but when any hate
allows for any love
and acts within it,
possibilities arise.

Measuring won't find
the Middle Way,
nor asking friends
nor reading books,
but work and watch,
step by day,
and strive and give,
mile by year, until
where isn't it?

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