Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December 2010
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Poems on this Page:

Please Go Away

by William Vollrath
I don't like you...
stain in the rug
squeak in the chair
spider in the cupboard
lump in the bed
This isn't your home...
storms in my day
ache in my heart
noise in my song
hole in my soul
I'll count to ten
Then please go away

As Raaga-s ensemble

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
Pluck of strings brought this dawn
Horizons curtains gently drawn
As silence breaks in its own words
Took first step 'action Song' of mind
A new Lingua with its mighty 'first cry' !
Tri Stream of 'Hind' flows through Notes
Could once more mix 'Grecian SPA' eternal
East and west must meet to co-exist
In fertile silver lined times all now live  
As emotions roar in deep inner spaces
Guitar Strings play melancholy song
Fingers daintily Jazz on Veena Frets
Fleeting anklets dance in maize of moods 
Swollen hearts loose unseen boundaries
Sound ravishing gushes voices melody
Neural web catches sounds of Music !
Shakespeare's galloping Horses, Kalidasa's Cloud
Stop in their tracks to listen rock concert
Music here is standing vertically in motion 

In you and me the 'Vit' and 'Mort'
To change life and better the mind !!

(Grecian SPA – The three Greek Philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle)
Tri Stream of Hind – Three sacred rivers of India – Ganga Yamuna and Sarasvati
Veena – Ancient music instrument ever known, which represent the human body
Kalidasa – A great Sanskrit poet from India from yester years, 
          Authored  "Megha dut"-  Cloud messenger.

Nicole Bobek Throws a Party

by Mardelle Fortier
She skates out smooth as
Jamaican rum. Each inch of her
flashes like polished glass.
Young feet kick across electric-blue ice.
She circles, as high spotlights
corkscrew down in turquoise.
Her fingers snap to an intoxicating 
beat, and she begins to leap—
a lutz, then she twins it.

Looking foxy, she drums
down the arena, then flies
straight up. Make that a double!
In the undiluted music
Nicole becomes a chaser
after her own record.
The skater highballs from one far end
to the other. Sparkling, she spikes
each jump, tossing off ice.

No one left out! Nicole smiles
filling each of our hungry goblets—
letting each spectator win.

(Published in Quantum Pulp,
Benedictine University, 2003)

Thanksgiving with dysfunctional families

by Mark Hudson
Valerie had all the right ingredients
But her children were showing disobedience.
All they wanted was pumpkin pie and cake,
And Valerie was getting a headache.
She found that a little vodka and tonic,
Made her problems less ironic.
The turkey was in the oven, to be served to guests,
Who would be nothing short of total pests.
And so it was on Thanksgiving, 2010,
Every year they had to do it again.
Harold was seventy-six years old,
And he always preferred his food to be cold.
Maybe it was because he had no teeth,
Or that from his rambling there was no relief.
Chit-chatting with his Alzheimer's,
Once a year they saw these old-timers.
He was a veteran of foreign wars,
But now his stories tended to bore.
His wife was no saint either,
This family was nothing like Leave it to Beaver.
The kids were playing video games where they'd kill,
It made Harold feel rather ill.
Valerie told them to come to the table,
But they would've preferred to watch shows on cable.
Uncle Arnie was drinking a fifth,
Forgetting the company he was with.
Aunt Edna was reading the National Enquirer,
Everybody knew she was a secret admirer.
She couldn't believe they were bankrupt,
To her it seemed kind of abrupt.
"The only magazine that tells the truth,"
As Harold lost another tooth.
The Smiths arrived with a bottle of champagne,
Veronica wished it could've been cocaine.
Her husband was watching the Bears lose,
As he finished another bottle of booze.
The game was just an excuse to drink,
And the bathroom was really starting to stink.
Nor was the kitchen smelling too appetizing,
To make it through this night would be surprising.
Everybody was whining about one thing or another,
Gratitude was only entitled to the grandmother.
She knew she was going to Heaven for sure,
But she wondered if her husband was rather impure.
She prayed for his soul night and day,
And her family who never took time to pray.
The kids looked at their food with reluctant eyes,
Nibbling to save room for pumpkin pies.
The grown-ups had drank too much to booze to eat,
Bed was where they'd rather retreat.
Grandma says, "What are we grateful for this year?"
Everybody but the kids says, "Beer!"
The kids say, "Toys!" and everybody laughs,
And the turkey is promptly cut in half.
And in Heaven, the turkey finds his new soul,
As his body is displayed by the casserole bowl.
They break his bones to wish each other luck,
And vow that next year, they're going to eat duck.

A Traffic Stop Yule Remember!

by David LaRue Alexander
It is Christmas eve night
when I get a traffic stop,
and I nervously wait
in my car for the Cop.

What did I do?
How fast was I going?
I linger there in my car,
without really knowing.

Bright flashing lights,
illuminate the night sky.
Like a Christmas tree,
as I ask myself why.

While he approaches the car,   
I look for documentation.
Will it be really bad,
might I have to go to the station?

As I open the window,
I feel myself shiver.
What kind of bad news,
is he going to deliver?

"Your rear passenger brake light,
you'll need to replace."
He says to me, 
with a smile on his face.

"You're wearing your seat belt
so everything's good!"
"You're being a responsible driver, 
just like you should!"

"I'm sure you'll fix that light,
now that you know."
"So there is no ticket,
I'm letting you go!"

I sat there staring, 
with my mouth all ajar.
As he walked ever so slowly
away from my car.

And I know this sounds crazy,
but I swear that it's true!
I heard him say, "Merry Christmas!,"
and I suddenly knew.

That familiar rush of emotions.
That special Yule Tide Joy!
Those happy, giddy feelings;
I hadn't felt, 
since I was a boy!


by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee


Turn to the local television station
Because BUCKWHEAT has been SHOT!
Turn to CNN if that is all that you got!
Turn on the radio and they will announce
The same thing,
BUCKWHEAT has been SHOT the airwaves sing!
Read the local paper looking for an update,
It reads BUCKWHEAT has suffered an awful
Talk to your friends and they will repeat
BUCKWHEAT has been SHOT down to his feet!
Go and surf the Internet,
Tell me if you don't read that BUCKWHEAT'S
Chest has gotten WET!
We are so inundated with terrible news,
All of the so called updates are only a ruse.
We interrupt this program to tell you,
We haven't found his killer
We are just stirring up the pot.

The Virgin Mary

by Rick Sadler
My  gold  colored  Ink  Pen  writes  her  beautiful  story
About  the  birth  Virgin  Mary  an  evening  glory,
A  new  born  Queen  born  with  out  sin  her  in  her  body  space
The  Moon  shines  down  on  her  little  perfect  oval  face,
She  has  lovely  brown  eyes  and  lots  of  pretty  brown  hair
To  see  her  in  my  mind  wish  I  could  have  been  there,
In  her  baby  sleep  the  Angels  line  up  to  kiss  her  head
Then  she  smiles  and  silently  wakes  up  there  in  her  bed,      
I  wish  I'd  be  transported  back  to  that  tender  Holy  time
To  see  the  Window  of  Christmas  that  opened  my  Rhyme,
In  my  dream  I  saw  a  picture  of  the  Immaculate  one
She  became  a  woman  that  gave  birth  to  her  Holy  son,
I  wish  you  could  see  Mary  as  I  do  this  time  of  Christmas
You'd  see  how  sweet  she  is  like  the  Tea  of  the  Sassafrass,
May  she  always  be  with  you  like  Christmas  I've  embraced
I  love  my  gold  Ink  Pen  with  the  face  of  Mary  is  placed,

Doggy Treats

by Susan T. Moss
A jar of gingersnaps always sat on the
third shelf of Grandma's pantry.  After
the usual greeting of hugs and kisses, 
my brother and I headed for the spicy
store-bought cookies, nothing like 
the buttery homemade pound cake
served after dinner.  Their lure might
have been the promise

of sweets usually rationed at home
or perhaps it was the snap 
so aptly named, biting our tongues 
and so different from blander 

foods mostly eaten.  This ritual
and frequent nibbling lasted many
years and with their abundant supply
we never quarreled over the last one. 

It wasn't until we grew up that we
learned the treats were for Tuffy,
our grandparents' border collie,
who was kind enough to share them.

Presidential Pardon Turkey

by William Marr
With her eyes closed
she was about to utter her last prayer
when suddenly a voice yelled
Immediately she withdrew her long stretched neck
and opened her eyes
finding herself an instant star
in front of flashing cameras

Surviving Katrina

- Part Three -
by David McKenna
Thump on the house      a log or boat
my ears strain in search of a sound
Through the window      men's voices float
and fear has me snared    upside down
This damn gun only has one round

"Stay back!"    I shout    "Don't you come here!"
And a wonder    there is silence
'till the scrape of an oar I hear
then a soft    low voice of menace
"Are you alone in there    princess?" 

I got no choice    it's do or die
I shriek    "Be gone or you are dead!"
But laughter    vile      an evil sigh
comes back echoing in my head
and my body is filled with dread 

I think    "One for myself    or kill
one of them      what choice will it be?"
Hearing a shoe scrape on the sill
I shoot    and in that flash I see
wide    shocked eyes staring back at me! 

I guess I'll never know if I
killed that man      All I know is they
swore so   rowing on      Blood in my
mind slowly turns from red to gray
to rust    to dawn      another day

I've got my whole life to live for
when I get out of here      I know
I'm strong    even though I am poor
Soon now    I'll walk out    down below
and all this   here    will help me grow

Meeting Julio González

at the Reina Sofia
by Donna Pucciani
He died in 1942, some years before I was born,
yet I am his woman asleep on the beach,
covered by a gray blanket, or collecting apples
in the orchard, piling them in a basket. My hair
is fastened at the nape, one strand escaping.

I am the woman bathing, combing her hair,
the laundress wringing, the girl lacing her boots
or looking at something in a corner, her chemise
falling off one shoulder. I live with dust motes
darkening the air, visible only on a canvas 
smelling of oil or acrylic.

I am Cactus Man, welded in solitary iron. 
But in another room, I have been bronzed into death, 
a sculpture small and bold against white-plaster walls. 
She is my double, but I carry words, not sticks, 
to make my fires.

I have crossed an ocean to stay in a hostel 
above Sol. They have turned off the fountain 
and erected barricades around machines 
that hammer and drill into the night.  
Four floors above, my mouth fills with dust.
But the moon rises like a ghost above Madrid.
I have met Julio González at the Reina Sofia, 
and I will take him home.

(First published in The New Writer)


by John E. Slota
Notes from a song once sung
Rhythm embedded in a fragile lattice
Faint voice, repeat your melody.
Repeat yourself,
That I might remember.
Rock-A-Bye song
Awakened by your dream
Vision in my mind's eye.
You waning moon,
Forever just out of reach.
Sleepy song once sung
Language of generations past
Your soul spans the ages.
Embrace me and what I am,
You are what I have become.

Legacies and more than a Day After

by jacob erin-cilberto
little John,
hand over heart
saluting his Robin Hood Dad
who gave the poor hope
but the rich needed space
and he inhabited theirs,
and the blacks were coming
and the soldiers were going
and he asked what we could do for our country
and Sherwood Forest became Camelot
and Kings and Queens exuded suits of golden interior
and Marilyn danced with a King
it was her thing,
and his
and his brother applauded, the prince
next in line to throne
and bishops and rooks
came out of the nooks
and crannies of a world gone mad
and a gun for hire
began to perspire
just before he yelled checkmate
from his dank cell
took a drink from the poison cup
and felt the arrow through his brain
Robin's bow never the same
and Camelot morphed back into woods
and thugs ran amuck
over blood stained leaves
and pine floors
and Marilyn cried Maid Marian tears
and the Queen stoically watched
her King laid to rest
little John
hand over heart
looked into the future
and saw the kingdom in ruins
tattered and torn
chaos sworn
and trust drunk in Friar Tuck's hood
Robin's bow never the same
get up Marilyn
you're just sleeping really
aren't you?
get up Marilyn
John is waiting to open his eyes again
and Bobby is dancing in the sheets
waiting for you to get up
Maid Marian,
Robin needs you
little John will acquiesce
he'll put his hand over your heart
and let his own drift skyward
as the chessboard spilled like a
mixed drink in turbulent air
we all crash sooner or later
and we all open our eyes again
sooner or later.

The Orchard

by Gail Goepfert
The roadside sign reads
passion fruit—free to passing poets
I wander into
the perfumed orchard
where fallen fruits
spill abundance.
I choose one
halve it,
and the nectar sprays
droplets to wet
my lips with
the tang of inspiration.
Enough, I whisper
who thirst
may pass by.
The seeds
fall and scatter
cradled by the earth
that knows I will return
for its ambrosia
when my mind
muddled by intrusion
hungers for more.


by John Pawlik
You had
A bad dream
She said
How do you know
I said
She then said
What I said
In a dream
It was
Very accurate
Of course
What she said
I said
In a dream
Was itself a dream
So a dream
Referred to a dream
That much
I remember

on the roof

by Steven Kappes
cats are on the roof
of my patio
i hear them chasing
fallen acorns
thumping across the steel
bumping and rumbling
as if they were larger
more potent creatures
beasts that weigh tons
not delicate felines
running around
on little cat feet

A Christmas Mood

by Chris Holaves
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
             "Glory to God in the highest,
             And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
                                              Luke 2:13-14
Snow densely falling, air not too cold,
cloudy days short, sun almost gone
and birds visit around the garden feeder
before night falls,

and every year trees, adorned with lights and ornaments,
describe the longing of a child's love for family to be near.           

Cards to dear ones far away like doors open my heart.
No snow, no cold, no steam from my breath unfolds
the true love of the season, the real joy and reason:
our Savior's birth, joyous carols angels sing, "Hark!"

He offers hope, love, and salvation—
the true meaning of Christmas. I exchange presents
seeking His spirit. Wishing to be a child again,
I crave fellowship, family and redemption.

Lights twinkling on the Christmas tree,
the mistletoe, the snow, Santa and presents,
the tinsel's icy glow, wreaths, carols, snowman, and the poinsettia—
all childhood memories— all rekindling the Christ in me:

Love. The story of hope for mankind. Christ is God's love.

On a cold starry night, I see angels around a manger, 
three Magi kneeling, a bright star, 
and I long for peace on earth.

(First published by Belvidere Republican, Dec. 2004.)

The Night Air

by Farouk Masud
I am the night air,
floating before the moon,
bathing in its cold, soft glow.

I am waiting for you there,
for sleep to take you soon, 
then I'll fall like winter snow.

When you yawn and close your eyes,
I'll let you breathe me in, 
inhaling my essence.

Like a secret surprise,
I can't wait to begin
and enter you in silence.

I make my way past your lips,
past your beautiful throat,
and end up fore your heart.

Like a throbbing eclipse,
your heart and I are afloat
and never shall we part!

I am the night air.
Breathe me in, my dear.


For Kelly K. Moran
by Jason Sturner
A cold front arrived
in Chicago yesterday,
and life was lulled
into a wintry nap.
I wear the brown scarf
you made for me
and stand in front of
yellow witch-hazel in the snow.
Here I pace the line
between reverence and concern,
thinking how difficult it must be
to survive in the cold.
I turn and gather these thoughts
while rubbing my hands together.
The wind shakes the trees
and I must go to you—
There, I will keep you warm.
Always until the spring returns.
(From his chapbook Collected Poems.
First published in A Prairie Journal:
Fall-Winter 2009)

The Thief

by Marguerite McClelland
There's a walnut tree in my back yard.
Summer saw its branches hanging to the ground,
heavy with nuts by the millions, it seemed.
Nobody uses that many nuts,
not even for Christmas baking,
so I gave notice to the neighbors last July
to come and gather them in Fall,
free for the taking.

It's fall now, and the nuts are falling,
one by one,
some rotten, some bitten in two,
all damaged, 
and few.
There was no harvest last year either,
come to think of it,
though the tree was just as green,
and just as heavy the summer before.

From my kitchen window
on a chill morning last week,
and every morning since,
I've watched him through the thinning branches
against the crystal sky,
	shuttling between the neighbor's yard and mine
	laughing ....

The Gift

by Bonnie Manion
Out of a days-long stupor last week
she had blurted over the phone,
"I want you to come and see me."
When I arrived her face was immobile,
eyes fixed on the ceiling in a sleeping stare,
pupils anonymous pinpoints that saw no natural light.

She never again spoke a word, yet emitted
a sense of recognition of our relation, and
whenever I left her bedside she whimpered her worry.
Every hour, morphine was slowly dripped beneath
her tongue, a tongue that protruded from a mouth open
without embarrassment or complaint for her final breaths.

How peace-giving it was to us to be able to give her
this length of time, this gift of touch, handholding
called out of our busy faraway lives.
I remember the pink background glow of a lamp
against the bedroom wallpaper, soft hymn-singing
in familiar voices, the smell of almond oil on her skin.
I remember that all she wanted was our company; not
food or speech or entertainment, but simply our hands
holding hers throughout the long night into that last day.

(First Place in Serious Poetry Contest, 2004
St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference,
published in Time of Singing, 2006)

The Zoo

by Paul J. Wolf, Ph.D
We went to the zoo the other day,
my Mama, my Grandpa and me.
I had never been to a zoo before,
I was excited about animals I might see.
We got to the zoo's parking lot,
and I grabbed my Grandpa's hand
as I was taught. I held it too,
til we got into the zoo.
Then we went into a little
house where they gave us maps
and told Mama where to make
bathroom stops.
First we went to the children's zoo
to see the small animals
some in little cages, a small owl in a tall one.
There were a bunch of frogs,
a few little snakes, and the owl,
that was about all,
except for a furry little animal
asleep by a waterfall.
We walked by a woods
where wolves ran free.
There was a high fence
between those woods
and me. I was kinda scared.
If it wasn't there,
we would have been eats
at a wolf-feast.
We saw some giraffes,
they were really tall
like they were walking
on stilts and they didn't fall.
There was a white bear
which swam in a pond.
There were other bears too
but they were brown.
There were lions and tigers
and other big animals with
names I couldn’t pronounce.
Grandpa called them big cats.
I said, "No Grandpa, they can't be that
because they won't fit on my lap."
We saw monkeys in bunches
some with white beards
which looked like my
grandpa’s except they had more hair.
There were these great big monkeys
who sat and did nothing. Someone
called them gillas or something like that.
Then we ate lunch at the zoo
in a building with lots of things to choose.
I got a hamburger and some fries too,
as usual, Grandpa paid for our food.
We passed a wagon which sold
peanuts and popcorn.
Grandpa bought a large cup
of that good stuff.
He and I ate it as we walked
until Momma said, "That’s enough!"
We went to a farm in the zoo
and saw horses and cows
a pen full of goats which I could pet.
One of them followed me and tried
to eat the shirt on my back. The lady in charge
told me to give it a whack.
We came to the pen
where the seals swam,
it had large rocks
where the seals
could sun themselves.
It was the best fun
watching a man in the pen
play games with the seals
feeding them fish
when they did tricks.
The seals would swim
down to the bottom of the pond
turn in circles around and around
then come back up to eat again.
On the way out my grandpa
bought me a gift.
I chose a seal doll,
it was of soft stuff.
When we got to Mama's car
and I was put into my seat
I snuggled down
holding my seal
and went to sleep
all the way home.
I have-ta say
I had a good day.


by Judith Tullis
big black polka dots
on a red satin skirt
irridescent mesh wings
glued to her little vest
two sparkly pompons
springing from a headband
that bounce with a toddler's
futile attempt at takeoff
I lift her up and help her fly
as I always will

Weaving the Stories

by Kathy Cotton
At the end of his life, he takes a bi-state bus to Illinois,
gets off at the last stop: Sixty-second Street.
William is a stranger to his grandchildren when he 
knocks at our door—soon after, a stranger in a casket.
They say he owned a bakery in St. Louis once
and played the mandolin.  My other grandpa lives
next door, smokes a pipe, watches wrestling on a
round-screen Zenith, dies without mentioning
he raised mules on a Mississippi River island,
drove across to St. Louis when the water froze solid.
Beneath the rack of double knit, elastic-waist pants
from Blair mail-order, and next to the half dozen 
disguised security files and her tidy boxes of Easy Spirit
oxfords, is The Suitcase: Mother's suitcase, 
hiding its unsorted treasure of glossy rectangles,
each, presumably, worth a thousand words. 
Four sisters, some cousins, other relatives,
gather at long tables piled with family photographs
and spend a day weaving loose threads of history
about generations that ended with Mother.
I notice an odd series:  me in a red jacket, a blue
or white or turquoise sweater, me with contacts or
owl-eyed glasses, curly or straight hair, me visiting
Mother, chatting aimlessly, I suppose, while
The Suitcase and the stories I never asked about
sit safe and silent in a nearby closet.

After Reading Nantucket by William Carlos Williams

by Marcia Pradzinski
Rowhouses on the street
Brown brick and ocher

framed by oak shutters—
Fragrance of roses

Of dusk—
On the wooden shelf

A toothbrush, its bristles
bent, near it

a gold ring rests

And the stark white bed

(Published in Rhino 2008)

Invisible Space

by Marilyn Huntman Giese
The first light snow of winter fills
            invisible space
With white poke-a-dots racing
            like children late for school,
They slide to their place
            with a thump
Making bright ribbons of paths
that line a skirt of grass.
Geese battle the wind driven
Beating wings double time
to stay in line.
Dark, bare branches
            watch the tiny invaders
Not knowing what is in store
            for them.
Perhaps it is the mystery of
            latent power within the crystals
That stirs the mind, or the magic of beauty
rebirthing the commonplace.


by Alan Harris
Yes, no—
every day deeper—
this, that—
no, not.

Grinding of the gods
peels away raw chaff
from bleeding grain,
daydream by nightmare,
week by moment.

Heartbeats nor breathing
repair this rift that
tumult has torn
between two rights
that are both wrong.

Struggle nor simmer
brings any glimmer
of release.

The breath continues,
but the blood
grows thicker.

Yes, no—
it is not given to know,
but to go forward—
or just go.

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