Illinois State Poetry Society
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December 2012
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Atticus Abbey

by Christine Cianciosi
Silent voice 
on the other realm
calming my fears
he comes near. 

While windows reflect
that which is within—
what is without
spirits secretly collect.

Sound of distant laughter
invisible presence near,
floor squeaks with step
yet nothing is there.

Calling my name
I sense his tears
he wants to play
no-thing to fear.

These halls are his 
calling his name
"Atticus Abbey" 
spirits play the game. 

I speak in mind,
he happily hears—
I speak in voice,
he comes near.

I show him the stars
he sees what is right,
new spirit in flight
Atticus Abbey found the light.

Back Down Cabrini Green Lane

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
As I drove past my childhood dwelling all I could see was scaffolding and crushed bricks,
When I turned on the tv I saw reporters interviewing the last hold out which was tenant Annie Ricks!
But I recall when residents weren't forced to pack their bags,
Times when as a unit our building went on trips to Six Flags!
I remember when the women of the building committee prepared dinners,
I recall attending Christmas and Halloween dances and being the winner!
I remember going to White Sox games and Ringling Brothers circus
with with Lower North Center,
I remember going to Seward Park and watching the Jesse White Tumbling Team enter.
I remember once when the Globetrotters visited Cabrini and my sister got a photo op,
I remember when teachers told us we could be anything we wanted to be because we were the cream of the crop!
Times when our graduation promenade were to songs like "Children Hold On To Your Dreams" and "Ain't No Stopping Us Now,"
Songs that told us that actions speak louder than words and that good always triumphs over evil somehow.
So with those words in mind I will end this edition of my journey down memory lane on a positive point,
Because Cabrini Green wasn't just an eyesore in the middle of a metropolis it was a vibrant joint.

Science vs. religion

by Mark Hudson

In class someone said as a joke,
"The universe must be expanding."
Immediately, my brain began to poke
in academia so demanding.
If God really does exist,
Did he create Darwin as well?
Is Darwin who is missed?
Could he be burning in Hell?
One minute you feel Heaven is real,
and you feel salvation secure.
But not everyone sees the appeal,
everyone thinks that they're pure.
Is Christian Science just a cult?
Is scientology a threat?
Will God be sending a lightning bolt
on every person you've met?
Could we have come from apes or the sea?
Is a big bang possible?
Is each and every philosophy
reserved for mental hospitals?
Obviously, the earth is complicated,
I believe that it had to be created.
This philosophy may be outdated,
and I will probably get berated.
They said the universe is expanding,
but the god of my understanding
loves every person he has made
love him and do not be afraid.
I'm not a total saint or sinner,
in spirituality I'm a beginner.
I'd rather not rely on superstition,
but I have had a premonition.
If history is drawing to its conclusion,
Then let us no longer have confusion!
Things get better on the other side,
I cannot prove it, I haven't yet died.
I've just heard that there is a Heaven,
Where things can't happen like 9/11.
Or hurricanes tossing us to and fro,
it is the place you would want to go.
I may not know chemistry or science,
but I've spent my life in defiance.
Now is the time to get some reliance,
God is always looking for clients!

There's a Word for It

by Curt Vevang
When I was young, I had a sense,
            as I'd go in some strange new door.
I've seen this place, I know it well,
            I know I've been here once before.
I was surprised there was a word
            for such a sense, could it be true?
Some Frenchman said, long years ago,
            I think I'll call it déjà vu.
And if I eat so much I'm stuffed,
            a two pound roast, four plates of stew.
When all I want is my soft couch,
            I've found out now, they've named that too.
I'm so amazed I'm not the first
            whose excess food caused so much pain.    
Sur-feit became a word before
            the glory days of Charlemagne.
Well I'll show them, I'll coin a word,
            an ideal word that's just for me.
I like to write, I like to rhyme,         
            a rhyme-ster then is what I'll be.
At last a word that's mine all mine.
            A perfect word, for me today.
This word I know describes me well.
            I'll add it to my resume.
But then one day I looked it up,
            dictionaries are so perverse,
a rhyme-ster is, I now find out,
            a writer of inferior verse.

saturday night dance

by Steven Kappes
a small farm-town Saturday night
I visited with older cousins
dancing at the community hall
cars parked diagonal on the street
a fat-tired Indian motorcycle
leaning on its kickstand
red and white paint glowing
in the beam of a street light

laughter and music pouring from the hall
as simple as my young mind could imagine
each experience still fresh and clear
as on that long-ago summer night
in this mystical unknown town
that existed only in that time and place
where it is locked unchanged forever


by William Marr
leading a fast life
the prodigals
lavishly expending
Mother Nature’s
while frantically
her cheek


by David McKenna
pigeons by a park bench 
scratch hieroglyphs 
into dusty soil
where my smooth sole was 

diseased elm and hemlock 
labor upward into clouds
wearing dirty underwear

fallen crabapples 
bloody the shade 

halfway between the street 
sit I
and the river 
staging you smile 
in my private theatre 
of floodlights and saxophones 
tasting your sweat-salt 
on the broken lips
of my memory 

cars rush by 	   every one is speeding 
cheating being a way of living

furry little animals chase each other in the bush 
not so far removed from yesterday

ancient loves 
and unforgivable romantics 
seldom pass 	       unnoticed 

still they pass	 		more ordinary than not
ending up back home 		alone


by John Pawlik
Like a child
in great soldier's clothes
amid the snow
that soaks my feet
makes me cold
I watch
a front
colder still
I watch
my head
upon your breast
your heart
a lullaby

End Times

by Farouk Masud
Wicked construction is causing our destruction,
Bursting at the seams;
Ingest the pun of our warring fun:
Fallout descends like streams.
The sun is dim, the moon is grim,
The sky is a ghastly red;
The stars are gone, Apocalypse shall dawn—
The living envy the dead.
World War III arrived so rapidly—
Upon our heads it fell;
Will it last like the ones of the past?
That only time will tell.
Like fools we slept as decadence crept—
We never had a clue;
The moral decay of the modern day
Is all so sad but true.
The world was in bliss—so how'd it come to this?
Perversions exact a toll;
Drowning in a vortex of money, fame and sex—
We spiral out of control.
Satan struts and grins at Humankind's sins—
He's aroused by our death and doom;
With holiness retreated and humanity defeated,
He stumbles upon a tomb.
While reading the epitaph, Satan spits out a laugh,
It reads:  The end of Earth nears.
And standing alone before His heavenly throne,
Our Lord God holds back His tears.

still life

by Marcia Pradzinski
the room invites space 
       opens itself 

a mirror of wooden floors 
gleam with              
                 like a glassy pond
                      shimmers with trees	

(Published in A Light Breakfast, 12/2011)

After the Storm

by Bonnie Manion
After every storm
I walk our property
surveying for tree
damage.  Hitching
the riding mower
to a cart, I load up
craggy walnut limbs,
leafy branches of
pin oak, soft brushes
of pine, moving them
to a stack at the back
of our country lot. Add
the occasional woven
nest lined with birdsilk.
All spring and summer
the pile grows higher until,
one crisp day in October,
I gather our grandchildren.
Grandpa starts the bonfire
by throwing out a bottle
of gasoline, the fireball
lighting up the cold night
to a cacophony of screaming
fear and delight, imaginary
gremlins and dragons hissing
and writhing in the glaring firelight.

(Published by Bellowing Ark)

At the V.A. Hospital

by Wilda Morris
The men gather—
            tall and short
            old, gray-bearded
            and young, fresh-faced
            friendly and withdrawn
            dark skin and light
Each unique
Each wounded by war's dark memories
When two begin speaking of explosives
bagging body parts to send back home
another begs them to change the subject
Given paper,
he can't pen a poem
because now his head
is filled
with body bags,
splattered blood,
mangled feet and fingers
detached heads
the things he most wants to forget

(Previously published in Rock River Times)


by Thom Schmidt
What I know is ...
Most talk
But don't know
Most do
But don't think
Most are certain
But are insecure
Most see black and white
But not gray

What I know is ...
I don't know
I relearn this everyday

And I am grateful


by Carol Dooley
she stepped, elegant and refined
out of a Flemish painting
brown hair tied back
fine silver earrings
small boned
long fingered
two shirts
belted blue-gray silk
over white cotton
a slim black skirt
tall boots, high heeled, square toed
she stepped
out of the past
and will return
when evening comes on

Song of a Continent

by Larry Turner
A woman arrives in Virginia 
from Africa in chains. 
In this cruel new land 
she sings.

A woman arrives in New England
more dead than alive. 
Was it blessing or curse 
she didn't miscarry aboard ship? 
She gives birth to her daughter 
and sings. 

Emerging from wigwam, teepee, hogan, pueblo, igloo, 
a woman faces the rising sun 
and sings. 

In tobacco field, by lake shore, 
under redwood canopy, on canyon rim, 
a woman sings. 

From Poland, Russia, Italy, China, Vietnam, Mexico 
more women arrive.
Each sings in her own voice.
That is her magic. 
When all learn to sing together, 
that is her strength.

Digit, Avila

by Donna Pucciani
The finger of Santa Teresa
points brown and delicate,
cut from her right hand
for viewing by the faithful,
its small gold ring set with
a square blue jewel, its fingernail
growing small hairs like whiskers.

The plain glass vial
clouds with five hundred years
of piety. Models of her castanets
click silently in the next case.

Today, Easter Sunday, we recall
not her stigmata but her ecstasies,
a foretaste of resurrection. 

Once, with Juan de la Cruz, 
Teresa levitated while discussing
the Trinity. Both clutched their seats
and felt themselves lifted,
chairs and all, by the hand 
of the Almighty. Pointless 
to resist His will.

We leave the museum,
not sure if the tapping we hear
emanates from the soles of our shoes,
the mahogany castanets under glass,
or the ring clacking in the reliquary.


by Gail Goepfert
                      -after Charles Simic "Errata"
Where it says plums
I write bruises on the lips.
Where it says stroke write
you thrum the measure of my spine,
make rhythm on zither.
Where it says cocoon write skin.
Where it says skin, write my iced desire.
Chafe remains chafe.
Each time parchment tears,
think of words shredded
change bluster to lust.
Remove all spaces.
They are words in need of ink.   
I couldn’t bring myself to say.
Put a finger over the arch of your brow—
it will curtain your lie.
The tongue still perjures.
Will there be time left to rewrite
all offenses to the mind,
all shoes pens teas fiction,
all orchids pools deserts and thumbs.
Believing the pretense,
my greatest mistake.
I gave credence to your words
when I might have shunned
their touch.

Bird Omens

by Alan Harris
When you go for a walk
in your nearby forest,
you see pairs of cardinals
and thrill to their singing.

One time you overheard
two owls conversing
between bare trees.

In summer you have
stared breathless
at a heron standing
beside your lake.

Birds of beauty
want to be near you.
Your heart flies up
with these fliers
and knows into
their knowing.

Today as I walked
across an open field,
hundreds of crows
flew overhead,
snidely cawing from
confusing clouds
of cacophony.

After they were gone,
I walked on in silence
and knew nothing.

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