Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December 2014
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Poems on this Page:

All These Things

by Jill Angel Langlois
For our Mom:
All the medications and home health visits
All the state of the art medical equipment 
All the meals we cooked and ate together 
All the naps taken on Sunday afternoons
All the visits from friends and neighbors
All the church going and soul searching 
All the special food and shopping trips
All the love we pressed into her hands 
All the care and concern we gave her
All the meows from Baby and Dolly
All the hospitals and there were four 
All the trust we put into technology 
All the questions for all the doctors
All the time spent in hospital rooms 
All the days since her first surgery
All the prayers for her well-being
All the times we cried out of fear
All the times we said I love you
All the cleaning out of catheters
All the doctors and surgeons
All the fun we had together
All the laughter we shared
All the talking and sharing 
All the plans we had
All the hope we felt
All the hugs
All the tears
Could not


by James Reiss
She was small when the pine needle pierced her eye.
It was snowing and her mother was napping.
The pines were glued with ice in the lower garden.
Caught by the feathery whiteness of someone
who looked like her father, she slid
down the slope to where his ski helmet
blazed in the sun, then vanished in the trees.

She bent, blinded by the snow
without her glasses, groped for tracks,
and listened for the rabbit of his breath.
"Hello," she called, and cupped her burning ears.
A rustling in the pines grew louder.
Darting forward, she brushed aside the snow
and peered inside the icy tent of needles.


by Wilda Morris
How long does it take for a pile of trash
to become an archaeologist's treasure,
a potsherd or copper coin to be seen
as the secret to decoding an ancient culture?
How long for copious quantities of feces
to fossilize into coprolites appreciated
for the data they disclose about the feasts
of a long-lost civilization, diets and diseases
of our long-dead ancestors?  How long
before some bright young scholars dig
a trench through the landfill holding
your household waste, tiles tossed out
when your home was remodeled, remains
of your old refrigerator? And when they find
the bracelet you broke when you broke up
with me, will it be the favorite artifact
of these future archaeologists?

(First published in Eclecticism
E-Zine, 16, July 2011)

A Child's Evening at Oak Grove Church

by Jan Presley
I had run barefoot from wet vetch,
from the fat, green orchard,
to jump my brother, to land him
face down in the red dirt road.
And then my mother led us by the sleeves
along to church, where my father
sat me down to the smell 
of hymnals and polished oak.

In the corner of a back pew,
to the song of the Blood of the Lamb,
I curled and dreamed of gnarled sumac
and the sweet, metallic juice
of early apples.        When I awoke
it was to silence thick as pitch
and just as dark, but for a hush 
of moon in each high window.

Remembering this, I feel what the child 
could not:   my heart too loud,
the moon too bright and distant.
I found the great doors locked.  
I clambered up stacked chairs
and through a window.  I walked 
forever home, an unwilling
witness to the darkness that was God.

(Papyrus Volume 2, Fall 1988
Published under the last name Weldin
New Orleans' Faulkner House Word
and Music Festival 
First Place Poetry 2003)

His Name Was Ned

by Candace Armstrong
His last name is lost
now, anyhow

he was the first 
to teach innocence
(some would call it naiveté)
about sexual harassment

in the workplace
inside the windows
overlooking the skinny trees
barely frosted in the hazy light

where she watched
a single feather
drift down
from a naked nest.


by David LaRue Alexander
If I linger
it may be too late; yet still
I choose to hesitate.  For I feel
compelled to know my fate, and so
I stand my ground and wait.
As I want to see
with my own two eyes, the leviathan
which dropped from the skies.  That swirling black mass
which now but lies, just over beyond
yonder rise.
It extends down
from a thunder cloud,
sounds like a roaring train; so loud.
Swift swirling winds, translucent dust cloud,
as it moves the very earth is plowed.
But I have vowed
to face my fear, so I hold firm
standing here.  When suddenly life
becomes crystal clear, as the winds diminish
and disappear.
In that moment
of sudden revelation, I understand
the years of frustration.  The indecisiveness,
the procrastination; resulting in
my life's stagnation.
For I realized every choice
I'd ever made, had always been
consistently swayed, by the things in life
which I was afraid.  It was always my fear
which I obeyed.

human error

by Steven Kappes
i am at the mercy
of the repair man
the mechanic
the cable guy
the pizza delivery person
the cook at the restaurant
the waitperson
the barber
the doctor
if they are having
a bad day
had an argument
need to put out a fire
their attention
is on something else
and I am left with
whatever little
skill seeps through
and can only hope
it is enough

Merry Christmas

by Doris Frey
Frosted red berries
On a sunlit holly leaf
Crown this day of love.

Casino Dealer

by William Marr
skillfully dealing cards
to the gamblers
who think they will certainly

even I, a cold-eyed observer
could not spot his trick
of changing his suppressed
laughing expression
to an unemotional
poker face

Remembering With a Last Line by Neruda

by Mary Jo Balistreri
Smoke smudges the air. 
I lean on the rake
and watch Sam wobble
across the lawn, small legs pumping hard, 
unsteady, but Eden in his heart. He falls,
begins again until he reaches 
his brother's hill of leaves, cascade of gold 
from Zachary's hands,
where he stands king of the mountain.

Zach encourages him to climb up, but Sam
keeps sliding down, all the time laughing,
delighted with this freedom, the crunch
of leaves under his new white shoes. 

Finally content to sit at the bottom of the heap,
Sam lifts fistfuls of leaves, then releases
them to fall like confetti—into his blonde hair,
onto his sweater where they snag in the red airplane. 

Leaf Man!
Sam shouts as he names

That time was like never, and like always. 

for Sam (1997-2005) Zachary (1993-2007)

(Published in Mom Egg Review, 2014)


by Ivan Petryshyn
Many days
Are just days
On a calendar page,
Like the planks on a stage,
But there was one Great Day
Which was called  Holy Day-
The Creation of the World
Which unfurled
The Mankind
Who has learned to be kind
In the limits of its Mind
Longing to the beauty and norm
For each one who was born
Under stars and the sky
With so many "do not's"
And so many  a "why ",
In the realm of injustice and lies,
Of each weight and each size,
Of the wounds and the tears,
Of the deaths and the fears,
Of betrayals and frauds, and evictions,
Of harassments  and mean crucifixions,
Of the jealousies that provoked homicides,
Of depriving of every right 
and of any defense,
Of the trials full of pretence,
Of addresses without any sense,
With incense so intense,
At the feelings so tense,
In the thoughts so much dense
That it all lead to a distress,
When the brain had no rest,
When of Good, one had less,
When the world was a mess
Of Crimea's and falsified reasons,
When Big Russia created one season,
Only one, for the two: war-and-death,
A maneuver, and men-  'thout breath,
Just a speech, and the thought of Illich
Would be crashing the homes, would be killing the kids,
Would be tearing off the plane's lids
To confirm: there's no end to the mean,
There's no stop to the conqueror,
There's no block to hold on the evil,
As, with blood, still are flowing the rivers
In the east, in the center and th' west,
And each land chooses, what is the best:
To support the war-monger,
To be fighting alone,
To be sitting at home with the children around,
As it isn't important, what will be found
In the Volga, and Dnieper, and Vistula, long…
Just one prayer, a tear and a "so-long!"
At the Danube, the Dniester and th' Don
With a whisper: "stop th' wrong!,
Please, forgive, I am gone."

I Ain't Gonna Rhyme (For Leroy Weatherall & Joe Robinson)

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Holographic memories of yesterday are beckoning me to grab a wave and ride on out
Urging me to tell the world what life in the Green's back in the day was all about
But when I tell these stories it ain't gonna rhyme
As a matter of fact it's going to defy meter and time
Like the fond memories that I possess
Of the way you carried yourself and the way you spoke more or less
For some reason on several occasions I always remember walking
about 10 steps behind
you on the way to Miss Ellie Mae's
Man, you seemed so tall!
You were my oldest brothers age
You use to play ball...
Then one day my mother walked in and told us all the saddest news,
And that feeling that I felt on that day has stayed with me
I can't pick and choose
Which memories come flooding back like a raging river
All I can say is that they make me who I am and I DELIVER...


by Theresa Glover
Among cracked faded walls where grandmother found death
we find in ourselves a mending, a whole.  From the grasp of
your arms I watch light shadows play on old plaster walls.
Between my own breaths I hear the firm march of your heart.
The air here is musty, the silence a quilt.  Falling asleep, I
dream. The walls tumble away; the shadows retreat: we are just
woman and man.  From out of bounds, I collide with realities thrust
through the shattered remains of my walls: we are universal,
mundane, only to us is this such a gambol.  Here in the space
of an old woman's house I've broken from being a rogue.
My walls are fragmented, while grandmother's loom in the
darkness, support the walls surrounding this bed. I wonder if
you are as exposed, as fearful of this, but you are asleep, and
my only comfort is the encroaching grip of these walls.

How I Spent My Cyber-Monday

by Mark Hudson
I woke up at the crack of dawn,
I must buy, Cyber-Monday is on.
I go to Dunkin Doughnuts and see
Isis making war on the TV.
Then I go to the Unique thrift store,
fifty percent off today, or more.
A taxi cab driver is parked in the lot,
a woman drives into the side she can't spot.
It's too dark she hits him in the dark,
I didn't see if her car made a mark.
I buy two frames than I go to school,
I'm preparing my own art to sell-it's cool!
Then I'm hoping to spend cash,
It's Cyber-Monday, dare to be brash.
I go to the library to check on deals,
I'm on-line and a woman now squeals.
Whenever all the computers are occupied,
she thinks she deserves them, the princess bride.
She is more important, we shouldn't be on,
even though we signed in before the spawn.
She complains and moans so I'm done on-line,
I free the computer, but I still hear her whine.
Americans are people, who love to complain,
what would they do if they had real pain?
Then I have to go the doctor for a physical,
this is where it gets metaphysical.
I get to the waiting room and I am early,
I could just take a nap in a ball really curly.
Then a woman comes in says she needs a referral,
to have surgery, I squirm like a squirrel.
She talks to the secretaries with senility,
I underestimate the secretary's flexibility.
Then a wino comes off the street, sweating,
I can tell he's not a patient, I'm betting.
He asks if he can use the public restroom,
this is where I predict the next stage of doom.
I go into the doctor's office, I've lost weight,
I eat spaghetti later to celebrate.
My doctor comes in and I need a blood test,
so I sill can't escape this Obamacare jest.
As I go to the restroom I stop to urinate,
the restroom looks like the portal to hell's gates.
The wino must've released all his innards,
personally, I'd rather hear Lynryd Skynryd.
I still must pee because I've waited for hours,
when I get home, I'll covet the shower.
I wait much longer to get my blood drawn,
before you know it Cyber-Monday is gone.
I went all day barely buying more stuff.
But hey, wouldn't you say I have enough?
On the way home I stopped in a Vitamin shop,
I found vitamins that help you sleep, not flop.
I'll take them, no longer toss and turn,
no longer will I use money to burn.
If I lost six pounds, that's a good sign,
I'm getting healthier, in this winter unkind.
Lake Michigan freezes, I start to shiver,
Cyber-Monday is floating down the river.
The love of money makes people work harder,
we shouldn't sell, we should maybe just barter.
I'll trade your guns for a rose petal,
besides, Monday is best when you listen to metal!

Down the Alley

by Gail Denham
Hesitate. Take a minute.
Walk down the alley
in a small town.
Feel the quiet.
Notice the weathered fences
with missing teeth, and the old
garage, so small two snowmobiles
couldn't enter at the same time.
There's a 30-year-old bush rose,
tangled, twisted vines, needing
a trim, but the flowers
and their scent aren't worried.
They know when the trash cans
rattle on Monday morning, they can
shake off dew, and nap till the school
bus roars to a stop at 3:30…
…unless a stranger strolls the
narrow dirt track, takes a minute
or two to stop and smell their
wide-eyed pink fragrance.

My Private Constellation

by Pamela D. Hirte
Evening grows dark, stars scatter in the sky
I search the constellations and seek what it reveals-
each star cluster shows a different part of who I am
my life sparkles on a moonlit stage tonight.

Starry nights quilt a constellation
Libra casts perfect harmony over me
My life in brilliant balance,
aglow in the atmosphere.

I slip my red dress on and dance near Venus
Cassiopeia, the queen, illuminates my femininity
gentle and comforting is my nature
clear skies, bright stars.

Radiant rays hover in the heavens
I fly with Pegasus and see my creative self-
poetry bright like the North Star
I light up the celestial sky.

The stars seduce night with lustrous lights
and scatter in a stellar sky.
Each constellation-  a different me
I shine like the shimmering of the stars.

(Published in From The Depths –
Haunted Waters Press, Fall 2014)

Bows and Poetic Wrapping

by jacob erin-cilberto
i'm a typo
lying on the floor
in a pool of white out
wrapped in correction ribbon
hoping you'll forgive
and open me up
before the present
becomes a too distant past
and the white out coagulates
into a clot forgotten memory.

Winter Berries

by Donna Pucciani
The crimson pearls
cling with clustered fingers
to the crabapple trees
shuddering in the wind,
as if to relax one second
would bring catastrophe.

The leaves have long since
met their tiny, innumerable deaths
on the brittle lawn beneath,
and flowers rich in scent
fell like pink snow months ago.

Now only the "hangers-on" survive,
half-brown berries in their time-lapse
demise. But some still-brilliant jewels
glow when the sun shines through 
like bits of ruby glass
holding the last scarlet promises
of summer. 

A red-throated robin 
flits among them 
as if caught in the necklaces
of a dozen aging divas.

(First published in
Third Wednesday Journal)

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

by Kathy Cotton
Caught in a slow-moving line, I tell him 
about my impressive American busyness.
The geologist counters, how once
he walked away from a dig, left his
students dusting dirt while he stretched
full length on a Montana stone,
gazing at the clouds. Dolce far niente,
he calls it, translating the Italian:
"the sweetness of doing nothing."
Ah, those Italians, who linger over olives
and wine and kisses, who speak
the world's most lovely language,
satin words ending in vowels,
set to sweeping gesture—
enjoying life a languid ocean away
from my vice-grip belief in efficiency,
productivity, time management;
far from where I learned that
idle hands are the devil's playground,
and busyness is virtue. Yet here I stand
tonight, barefoot in damp grass,
staring at a moonless sky as lightning
outlines mysterious clouds.
Dolce far niente.

Winter Twilight

by Michael Escoubas
In the crease of time between night and dawn's first light,
	is merely being enough?

The world is quiet. Snow is a white blanket trimmed
	by fence posts and broken cornstalks.

Boughs of trees bend low bearing the weight
	of accumulated snow.

A rustic barn stands sturdy in the white field, red paint
	peeling dried by summer's unrelenting sun.

Its door is ajar. Snow has drifted into soft swirls
	like piles of whipped cream.

We pause to ponder the barn's rusty hinges,
	peeling paint and weathered look.

We ponder our own bent bough; the weight
	we carry--how much longer can we bear it?
Yet, the twilight bids us anticipate the moment of dawn,
	as our friend the sun, climbs resolutely above
	the horizon pulling himself up, promising warmth
	like the glow of fireplace embers that dissipate
	December's cold. 

In this crease of time we embrace nature's encouragement.
	The white seam of sky blends with the soft pink
	that lies beyond the tree line.

In this twilight moment, is it possible that we need nothing,
	want nothing but to behold this meditation
	that is greater than ourselves?

(Published in the December 2014 issue of
Limited Magazine, Bloomington, IL)

Wonder and Awe

by Bonnie Manion
Crowds massed below, the great
hall soaring on columns to a lofty
height, tabernacle and chalices
flashing precious gold.  Priestly
satin robes shimmering like jewels
in the candlelight.  Bold gothic
wonders boggling my mind, opening
my soul, kindling a fire.

Prayers droned in God's tongue,
unintelligible Latin sung in a male
chant hung with spice of incense,
sending all our hopes aloft.
Statues and stained glass saints
surrounding us, modeling
the Christian life, their spirits
flitting like flickering flames,
unseen but sensed all the same.

(First published in The Penwood Review)

The Struggle

by Beth Staas
The pruning task done,
my arms are speckled 
like on a ten-year old with measles.
Juniper juice does that
but I'll be all right by tomorrow.
Still, the bush should be grateful
that I yanked out the vines
strangling its branches,
turning needles to brittle brown.

A few feet beyond,
pachysandra and myrtle
fight for sun, rain and air
thrusting new roots into resilient soil,
a copulation of sorts,
insistent as a rooster in a hen house.

Beneath the overpass,
tiny trees nestle in saucers of dirt
within the rock indentations
despite wind, snow and sleet.

And you, your shallow breaths
a bare ripple on the sheets,
panting like a puppy on a run,
unwilling to exchange the gift of life
for eternity.

A Mom for Christmas

by Rick Sadler
It  is  this  time  of  the  year  that  I  miss  my  adopted  mother  the  most
She  chose  me  out  of  all  the  children  in  the  world  as  a  loving  host,
More  than  that  Mom  save  my  life  as  an  infant  left  alone  to  die  
Mom  wouldn't  except  my  death  as  an  answer  as  she  prayed  to  the  sky,
Mom  would  say  to  God  that  this  baby  should  be  given  a  chance  to  live
After  all  this  child  didn't  ask  to  be  born  into  this  world  but  a  gift  you  give,
She  prayed  and  prayed  and  I  guess  God  heard  her  prayer  cause  here  I  am
You  see  I  was  abandon  as  a  infant  cause  my  real  mother  didn't  care  for  me
I  think  if  I  met  her  today  I  would  say,  "thank  you  cause  I  had  the  best  life  you  see,
I  come  from  a  family  of  five  adopted  children  but  I  was  the  only  one  was
 Blood  related  to  my  adopted  Mom  cause  we  were  third  cousins  guess  you'd  say
I   was  kept  in  the  family  thus  I'm  alive  to  be  able  to  write  this  poem  as  I  pray,
Tears  fill  my  eyes  I  can  hardly  see  the  key  board  to  type  out  my  feelings  for  today
Mom  always  made  Christmas  very  special  she  would  do  all  kinds  cooking  with  care
And  decorating  she  was  always  into  Christmas  and  I  miss  her  very   much  as  I  stare,
At  some  of  the  tree  ornaments  that  she  saved  over  the  years  and  it's  kind  of  strange
That  I  still  can  feel  her  spirit  within  me as  Mom  guides  me  on  this  worldly  stage,
So  Mom  if  your  listening  to  my  mind  tonight  I  want  say  Merry  Christmas  and  all  I  love
I  know  I  said  and  did  some  really  things  that  hurt  your  feelings  and  If  I  could
I  would  take  them  all  back  and  say  I'm  sorry  and  I  hope  some  day  I  surly  would,
I  understand  all  your  anxieties  over  the  years  of  raising  a  child  like  you  told  me
Mom  would  often  say  to  me  that  I'd  better  learn  to  take  care  of  myself  because  she
wouldn't  always  be  around  to  take  care  of  me  Mom  was  a  very  intelligent  and  be
A  good  judge  of  people  and  very  resourceful  but  most  of  all  she  loved  her  adopted  boy
Oh,  God  please  let  me  go  to  Heaven  to  be  with  my  adopted  mom  from  Illinois 


by Chris Holaves
Every word of God proves true; He is a
shield to those who take refuge in Him.
		Prov 30:4

Harbor no bitterness in your soul,
for it's as catching as a prairie fire
where flying sparks ignite brushes and small breezes conspire
to consume even the smallest life of all.

Harbor no hatred in your heart,
for hate is like the raging tides that drown
when fierce storms rumble and blow all apart,
blinding their catch, striking the ship, till all go down.

Harbor no indifference to people around you,
for not caring is the first symptom of one doomed
to die unfulfilled, not to profess or to do
what's right to restart the heart before it's consumed.

Harbor no fear that paralyzes,
for it's like the first frost in early fall.
It only deadens, and it doesn't revitalize
nature's colorful beauty and soul.

Harbor no envy for what others have,
for envy is a fever that subtly grows
to withering heat that dims the eyes and chokes
the heart while, from the body, the last life flows.

Harbor no lies against others,
for falsehoods begin with a match-at-hand
to grow to flames that consume brothers
as the flames rage to fires when the winds bend.

Harbor no war against any one,
for war is Satan's well, dug to trap and kill
all who are too proud to put down the gun
and fall in with no true sight or strong will.

Harbor no sin that leaves life empty
for, like a thief, it robs the temple of its holy gifts,
and has no love for you or for humanity.
Harbor, instead, God's Word that sustains and lifts.

Sanctuaries of Love

by Irfanulla Shariff
Our hearts have strings like guitars
Once passionately tuned
With melodious notes
Beautiful harmonies
Are conceived
These guitars
Instruments of bliss
Send soothing vibrations
To the universe around us
Totally energized
By these heavenly lyrics
The dervishes swiftly decide
To whirl around their hearts
Sanctuaries of love


by Usha Mahisekar
With December starts
I should be really smart.
Dress up warm and cozy
I hope my nose is not rosy.
Inside to outside,
Layers after layers 
I can't find my body 
In  these shivers.
North Pole is there.
Santa  eager to come here.
Let me decorate the tree
So my house Santa can see.
Tree ornaments twinkling
Star is  auspiciously shining
Gift boxes are staggering
Tasty food is  smelling
Earth is rejuvenating
White snow all covering
Trees are stronger than human being
I am ready for hibernating
Reindeers are gone back.
Every day is weather check
To all   happy healthy New Year
bring  in  lots of  fun and cheers.

I am waiting for March.

The Encounter

by Susan T. Moss
Sometimes, when the day's frenzy
erects false shrines to necessity,
an inner scream crescendos
and all sensibility vanishes

taking with it what's left
of the meditation classes,
time management guides
and lavender lotion.

It happens, this misalignment,
this conformity to chaos,
and like a bullet to the nerves
splinters me.

I take a walk along a road
grizzled with dry stalks
and ripe apples beginning
to drop from untended trees.

Near meadow's edge a deer grazes
on fruit, stops and meets
my stare at that juncture when
the thread pulls taut between bone and dust.

To Tame the Sea

by Kate Hutchinson
	You will not tame this sea
	either by humility or rapture.
	But you can laugh
	in its face.
		- Anna Swir, "The Sea and the Man"

Into my arms you were placed –
eyes closed, patched with blood,
shocked to silence by light and loss,
naked and vulnerable,
invisible dendrites in your brain
still stretching themselves
into haphazard patterns
that would keep you mute
and shrouded in fog.

There is no laughter at this
cold and rock-strewn shore.
The tide laps ceaselessly, 
pulling the sand from under my feet
while I lurch and sway.
Out there, in the dark waves,
only mystery
and ceaseless whispers:
Hush, hush, it's never enough.

Heart and Road

by John Li
Road, straight
Heart, walks on it
Zigzags are telling the vicissitudes of life...

Evil under the sun
The road became dark
Some people live in the darkness
The road is full of light

Invisible will be seen
Becomes true
Visible will continue to be hiding
Becomes unreal

Speak one way and think another
That's the main melody of the world
Truth shocks again
Deaf eardrum has not vibrated

Life's road is not allowed to try again
Sadness is
Wrong has often been decorated to be right
Right has often been twisted to be wrong

No matter road is rugged and flat
Heart's will
Can make it even
Also can make it crooked

Just Give It a Try

by Farouk Masud
The person who tries and succeeds 
is better than the person who tries and fails.
The person who tries and fails 
is better than the person who doesn't try at all.


by Marguerite McClelland
on the foreign shore,
I dream
of the silent pebbled path
crawling through the wood
that used too listen to my dreams
of foreign shores.

I've seen the larger world,
and both sides of the sea
the people say,
"Oh! How cosmopolitan you are!"
and think I've highways 
running through my veins
and neon cities
flashing in my brain.
But the highways disappeared 
beneath my feet
and the neon cities sleep.

I knew not, when I ran away,
a single squirrel in the wood,
though I imagine now
their many tales untold.
The people know not,
while they stay,
that in their silent, circling streets of clay
sleep the same atoms
that course the asphalt miles.


by Alan Harris
I walked with you today—
with you and the One inside you
who beamed light through your eyes.

Your voice seemed more than your voice
and held meaning beyond your meaning.
Who was in you speaking?

I walked with you and mystery today,
and now I need to learn Who dwells in you.
Perhaps the One inside me knows.

(From Heartclips)

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