Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December, 2019
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Poems on this Page:

A scrap of paper

by Jenene Ravesloot
discarded by some patron, perhaps a piece of paper that once sheathed a plastic drinking straw torn off and thrown onto the café's dark flooring perceived by me and surely by others who were loath to bend, retrieve, and toss it into the café's container. There is no way it couldn't have been perceived by them since I have perceived it but who wants to bother with a scrap of paper. Life is difficult enough. Still, small imperfections lead to greater imperfections, which of course lead to our present state of chaos don't you think and therefore I am inclined to get off my stool, bend over, and retrieve it. Then I remember. That is the barista's job. The action of picking up that piece of paper in her stead could reflect poorly on her if her boss would happen to walk in as I was retrieving that scrap of paper off the café floor. See, I have worked myself into quite a state. It seems to me that it has been planted there to simply annoy me, to throw my already disordered life into further disorder, but why me. And who has my discomfort as their goal. All I have to do is reach down and retrieve it. No one will notice. Then I could get back to my newspaper and forget the whole thing. But that is the problem. I have noticed a subtle shift in my demeanor that has left me dissatisfied and near tears at the oddest times. It is embarrassing. What I wouldn't give for the oblivion of youth, the banquet table of those middle years, or that burst of sudden energy one finds in early old age. Of course I could direct my attention elsewhere and find pleasure in the fact that I am still alive. What is a scrap of paper anyway.

First Published by After Hours Press

Black Friday 2019

by Mark Hudson
It was Black Friday 2018, day of spending,
and of the people everywhere, it was no ending.
I went with Barb and Jeff to the Art Institute,
it was crowded outdoors, but I remained mute.

We went in the side entrance, because they were members,
I was their guest for this cold day of November.
The Warhol exhibit had a really long line,
we didn't want to wait, so we split up which was fine.

Barb and I saw some beautiful prints in one wing,
Jeff saw the masters upstairs and did his own thing.
Barb and I saw a wonderful print of a tree,
we stepped closer in order to get a better see.

"Looks like the local printmaker Kurt Frankenstein!
I have a print of his at home that resembles this design."
I replied, "I remember taking printmaking with Julian Cox,
and Frankenstein's widow brought his plates in a box.

She was about to go reside in a nursing home,
she wanted to find the lithograph plates a home.
I don't know whatever happened to those plates,
but needless to say, they were exceptionally great."

Then we went up to the ancient master's wing,
there was Jeff, studying each painting.
Analyzing every brushstroke, each color which shown,
and a man behind him eavesdropped unknown.

Eventually, we had to take a break for lunch,
but when we got there, a line held with people a bunch.
Jeff said, "This is all because of that damn Warhol!"
We got in a line by the far wall.

But then we got through, and sat down to eat,
a discarded chicken bone lay at our feet.
We made plans to do what was next to be,
Jeff had different plans then Barb or me.

He wanted to study the masters a longer while,
Barb wanted to go to Warhol and see his style.
I wanted to rest at the visitor's lounge,
this excursion was wearing me down.

They agreed to pick me up in about an hour,
I drank my coffee, it was rather sour.
I eavesdropped on other people's conversations,
I watched the other people's animations.

Then we were headed to the Christmas market,
which was even more crowded than any old Target.
We went through pretzels, cider and beer,
and realized, "We need to get out of here!"

So Barb went to pick up the car while we waited,
some musicians played Christmas songs so well dated.
They only seemed to know a single song,
but they played at the corner for rather long.

People walked past in the intersection,
we waited and had time for reflection.
Then Barb finally pulled up to the curb,
we got in the car, headed to the suburbs.

I got home, and took a hot shower,
then lied in bed for a couple of hours,
did some laundry, and now hear I write,
hoping I can go back to bed tonight.

But the truth is Christmas is the air;
today just a preview, almost everywhere.
So each day, one more journey in Advent,
as I write this poem, I feel quite content!

Foodie Triolet Variation

by Tom Roby
My favorite food groups are sugar, salt, and fat.
I love them, I love them, I love them all to death.
Without them the meat on every plate tastes flat.
My favorite food groups are sugar, salt, and fat.
No other food group can make up the lack.
I eat, eat, eat, till I barely catch my breath.
My favorite food groups are sugar, salt, and fat.
I love them, I love them, I love them all to death.

I love them, I love them, I love them all to death.
My favorite food groups are sugar, salt, and fat.
I eat, eat, eat until I barely catch my breath.
No other food group can make up the lack.
My favorite food group is sugar, salt, and fat.
Without them the meal on my plate tastes flat.
I love them, I love them, I love them all to death.
My favorite food group is sugar, salt, and fat.

A Christmas Embrace

by Michael Escoubas
There is a soft glow of light
emanating from the cabin
on this cold December night.
A stand of pine bends low
weighted down
from last night's fallen snow.
The sky seems to open and part
as if on command
for choirs of angels to start
their hymns of praise on this day of days,
impromptu reminder
of the reach of God's embrace.
Were I to seek a hint of Heaven's bliss,
should I expect to find more than this?

A Woman in the Christmas House

by Rick Sadler
Peering through the branches of my Christmas Tree
Viewing a Christmas ornament lovely as can be,
A little plastic stone house shinning with all the glitter
The tiny home supported a door and a window's shutter,
Looking through the miniature portal was a woman praying
On her knees before an alter at Christmas time saying,
"My son have mercy on this world that you always know
So much hatred, suspicion, corruption and spreading crime,"
The woman finished her prayer and gently turned around
With tears in her eyes and looked at me strangely profound,
The Lady's expression gave way to a most haunting smile
Thus speaking in a gentle voice announcing her female style,
"I'm very happy to see your face but I'm worried about you
Seek the Father's grace only he can help you live and subdue,
The wickedness of the people and their unsettling crazy taboo,
Brought on by the evil one who is constantly looking through,"
Then the itsy-bitsy house began to change to radiate and glow
As the little abode began to turn around as music began to flow,
The miniature woman had a white veil and a light blue frosty gown
With two golden Roses attached to the back of each hand's noun,
I realized that the woman was the Virgin Mary cloaked with a song,

A Biker's Route 66

by Carole R. Bolinski
He swaggers to the juke box
flips in a quarter, plays a Johnny Cash song.
Black leathers hug tight
against his hard-tack soul.

His cycle parks outside the café.
Chrome handlebars
cool in the morning air.
He's already thinking about the next town,
the next adventure. 

The road before was
long and weary, 
pot-holed and pitted.
A bumpy ride, searching
for pretty girls and decals.

He listens to the song 
about the forgotten slogans
when the road
was new, fresh with ideas. 

Route 66, popular during
the drying out of the Midwest,
the rains, the tornadoes,
the big companies
that made everyone thirst for gold.

Even before, when the road
was the old national territorial trail,
bordered by the Santa Fe line,
when it was dirt, then concrete,
then asphalt.

The biker's Route 66
echoes through the song, the way
history streams from his exhaust
as he disappears down
the one-upon-a-time
road to dreams.

We buried Daddy

by Lennart Lundh
this morning, but neither of us cried or really felt bad. Doris wore a simple white smock, saying his death seemed like a new chapter was starting after what he did to her since she was little, almost like being a virgin again. Me, I wore my gardening clothes, not wanting to get a good outfit dirty digging the hole in the woods, and a hole is all he got, deep with no marker, not deserving a neatly cut grave and coffin after hurting me all those nights, too. I took a few pictures of us, but maybe you'd rather I didn't send you any.

The Sooty Mess Around Our Tree

by Gail Denham
In the middle of a peaceful night
Dog yowls woke me to terrible fright

I stumbled from my comfy bed
Felt sure that I would soon be dead

Then through a swirling, foggy smoke
I saw a large bright red-dressed bloke

He grinned real friendly right at me
Dumped piles of gifts beneath our tree

Then pinching tight his reddish nose
Up through our chimney's smoke he rose

For days our house smelled rank and smoky
The kids said all this was "okey-dokey"

Black footprints shown all round the room
I kept quite busy with mop and broom

The big fat guy in red hat and suit 
Near smoked us out, but left nice loot

Though I might have been ok with less
If he had not left such a mess

Great Beauty

by Goldie Ann Farkonas
What is the beauty that I love?
'Tis everything that is of love.

From earliest of times, it seems,
That man has plannd his many schemes.
To live in style and in taste,
To use all nature, without haste.
One rushes here and there, and goes,
Selects and buys the best of clothes.
Folks decorate their home with all,
And they use carpets, wall to wall.
With face and hair adorned with scent.
One must attend each fun event.
All strive to buy a brand new car,
Must journey here and there, a far.
Some try their best, so they'll out-do,
Their neighbors, friends, and me and you.
To own a diamond and some minks,
Will bring one beauty, so one thinks.
Some please their friends and those of wealth,
With pseudo acts, destroys own health.
This is the beauty many seek,
'Tis beauty that in taste is weak.
The beauty that I love the best,
Is somewhat different, from the rest.
It's beauty, yes, it's beauty, too,
'Tis beauty blessed by One who knew.
It's beauty that is felt, so deep,
Enjoyed by me, locked up to keep.

Of course I love the scents and clothes,
And join the crowds that comes and goes.
And very sure, I love a home,
Built like a castle with a dome.
But most of all, I love just love,
I love the air, I love the dove.
I love the dignity of man,
I love him white, or black, or tan.
I love the youth, so pure of heart,
I love the ones, from Earth, depart.
I love unselfishness and truth,
I love the elder and uncouth.
I love to see just what I view,
True character and honor, too.
I also love great humbleness,
Portrayed in kind and great finesse.
I love a rose and streams that flow,
I love great wisdom, minds that know.
I love serenity and peace,
I love spring's gayety and tease.
I love the stillness of the night,
I love the sunshine's beams so bright.
I love the early skies of dawn,
A sunset, ocean, and a fawn.
This is the beauty that I seek,
For me, it, pure, without a streak.

There's more of beauty that I need,
This beauty comes from human deed.

The beauty that's portrayed in art
Commences forth and fills my heart.
The rhythm found in poetry,
Presents itself, most certainly.
Shakespearean, and author Poe,
And Dante, Dickinson, do flow.
Philosophy speaks loud and clear,
Seeks forth the wise to speak and hear.
Men like Euripides and Yeats,
And Ibsen, Aeschylus and Bates.
The paintings done by Raphael,
Madonnas and their Babes, most tell.
And Michelangelo, the great,
Da Vinci and El Greco, rate.
Great sculpturing by Lysippus,
And Aphrodite of Melos.
Loved symphonies by Beethoven,
Plus Schubert, Mozart, Bach, Haydn.
Loved operas from Puccini's house,
Gounod, Wagner, Verdi, Strauss.
Tchaikovsky's prize of his Swan Lake,
Engulf's the viewer, for art's sake.

What is the beauty that I love?
Tis beauty gifted from Above.

God's Gift of Family

by Idella Pearl Edwards
It's time for the holidays once again...
That magical time of year
When family and friends gather together;
Traveling from far and near.

Amid the cries of, "My, how you've grown!"
And, "I wish you lived nearby!"...
We can't seem to get enough hugs all around
As tears of joy fill the eye.

A time to enjoy the wee little ones;
Each cuddly body on a lap,
And big round soft saucer eyes all pleading
To get out of taking a nap.

A time for the older children to perform
A song or a dance they know.
The eyes of adults all shine with pride
As they enjoy the show.

A time for Great-Grandma to tickle the ivories
With nimble, racing fingers;
Everyone singing along with great gusto
While around the piano they linger.

A time to recall events of the past,
Talking far into the night.
Laughter rolls through the house like a wave,
Splashing each one with delight.

And last, but not least, a time to remember
That our Awesome God above
Blesses our lives with family and friends
As a token of His great love!

in the old west near City Lights books

by jacob erin-cilberto
the posse arrives to arrest
the poet
word-slinging outlaw
robbed a poem bank
stole then plagiarized
all the notes from the safe
witnesses lingered in the cafe
to preface the arrest
and semantically attend the trial
when the sentence was pronounced
it needed much editing
someone forgot the semi-colon
in the verdict
and revision was shot down in the street
leaving sarcastic lines
for the loss of inspiration
we all felt with tear stained
trigger fingers.

Shades of Summer

by Charlotte Digregorio
Homebound, looking out
onto snowdrifts,
I unspool July.
The cardinal blazes in flight.
A scarlet butterfly, dappled white,
claims a yellow crocus.
I unravel raspberries
from a gnarled vine,
savoring seeds.
When twilight casts
a shadow,
the breeze strokes me.
In deepening green,
where roses refuse to hide,
the crickets' chant echoes
from ear to soul.


by Donna Pucciani
My best friend out east
is sitting shiva this week,
having lost her bear of a husband, 
such a dear man.

Of course, I miss Howard,
miss the space his laughter
used up, his happy quasi-
refereeing of television football,
irritation sparring with joyous
anxiety, one call after another.

Tongue cancer has quieted him,
at least on this planet, for who knows
where he has gone? Do Jews believe
in heaven, hell and purgatory?
Though Howard certainly is bound
for paradise, with my help: a basket 

of kosher sweets, ordered online
from a business on Broadway 
that specializes in shiva offerings.
Who knew? Not I, stranded in
the Midwest with mainline Protestants
shivering in cemeteries, or thinking of
my Catholic childhood, with its Irish
wakes, sometimes in the living room,
a three-night preparation for burial.

The sad niceties of coming and going,
the kind words, the Mass cards,
or a rabbi's prayers: Death comes to us all,
after these previews into the darkness,
and we, squinting, wiping our eyes 
and embracing each other, prepare
for our own casual demise. We leave it
to our spouses, our children, to select
the hymns, to sit and remember
all our foolish moments.

(U.S. Catholic)


by Arthur Voellinger
I glanced
at a star
the other night

It winked back

Time and distance
should not jeopardize
any relationship


by David LaRue Alexander
I can't do
about something
and I can't
do something
about anything
So what am I
supposed to do
with nothing

Watching Sunset at the Seashore

by William Marr
burning all day
trying to char every evil face on earth
yet at the last minute
he softens and recedes
throwing the fireball
into the water
amid the sizzling sound
I see the entire ocean boil up
empty bottles, syringes, plastic bags, cups and plates
all rushing into this big pot
from every corner of the world
and in the dim dining room
a lonely old man grumbles
as he raises his plastic knife
and fork

Note: A dead whale was found in the Philippines with 88 pounds
of plastic bags and other disposable plastic products in its
stomach. (New York Times, March 19, 2019)

Winter from Below

by Jason Sturner
Oak leaves tremble in the wind,
drip with recent rain.
They turn orange and fall
to know winter from below.

I know winter from above.
My place at the window,
coffee in hand
as thoughts rise and take shape.

I've seen the leaves shine and die.
Seen them shake in storms
and fall from crowns.
From this I have gathered insight:

In each moment, a heart shines,
a body dies. Lives bend beneath wind.
They'll all go orange inside
to know winter from below.

One day I too will fade:
drip with a lifetime of storms—
float leaf-like
into the hands of winter.

(From the chapbook Wilderness & Love)

The Clearing

by Scott Shaffer
At daybreak, 
loaded down
from life's long haul, 
I trudge 
through timber and thicket.
Feeling lost, confused, 
I wander along the trail
Then glory startles me:  
in a secluded clearing a stately stag
glows in the sun's brilliance
His crown thrusts heavenward
His rugged flanks glisten with dew
He sniffs into the crisp stillness, 
staring at me.  Then, turning,
he strides towards the light, 
as if to say, 
"This is the way, walk in it."

Old Poet at the Open Mic

by Kathy Cotton
I applaud the passionate angst and anger
of each young reader,
then take my own shaky turn at the mic.

Listen to me, I read softly,
listen, because I am old and know things
you do not yet know. 

Louder now, and looking into their eyes:
Listen to me
because I've heard the groan of pulleys
that lower father, mother, husband,
an entire generation of family
into shoveled holes,
		yet am neither lonely, nor alone.

Listen because I've found soaring love
and lost it,
		yet love still, love more.

Listen because this body bears the scars
of scalpels and sickness piled on sickness,
		yet I am well,
because I have retired from jobs
		but never from work,
because I lived through violent storm
and tossed precious things overboard
		but miss none of it.

Listen, because I drowned 
		in deep currents of despair,
		yet floated back to sunlight.

Listen to me, I whisper into the mic,
		l i s t e n  t o  m e,
because I am old and know things
your young hearts could know.

(from Encore Prize Poems 2019)

Life Circles

by Marie Samuel
Circles of Water Resources
  Rippling, flowing, rushing forth
      Sustaining, cooling, hydrating 

Circles of Cultural Influences
    Traditions, ceremonies, masks
         Feasts, costumes, weapons

Circles of Human Treasures
      Histories, networking, exploring
          Settling, preserving, destroying

wind ruffles thatch browns

by Tom Chockley
wind ruffles thatch browns
winter on the flower planter

Her Anger Is Blue

by Jill Angel Langlois
She is anger
Old, darkened, blue
A closed and locked room no one enters
She is frozen
Cold, heavy, dull,
An iceberg submerged in an ocean
She is a volcano
White hot as her fierce stare at the memory
Her lips are on fire with words she will not speak
She is tempestuous
A violet storm threatening to howl
Yet contained, held back
She is lightning
She reacts on principle, her reasons
Stuffing the rage down, still burning
She is a gift
Holding the ocean in her hands
Letting it slip through her fingers like tears


by Carol Dooley
We go out to breakfast every other Sunday.
Today I was dressed in jacket and scarf.
Meanwhile he had set out plates and silverware.
Oh dear.

We thought and thought, tried to remember last Sunday.
I think, I said, I opened a new package of bacon.
I think, he said, there were scads of little kids in brightly 
colored pajamas. 
Oh dear.

Must we mark an "H" on the calendar?
What will our daughter say?  Laugh or sneer?
Heck, she will admire our ability to cope, to be precise.  
Things are fine.

We'll get along.  Until the day someone asks
what does that "H" stand for?
And we will look at each other blankly.
Oh dear. 

Good Enough

by Karen Fullett-Christensen
(To Sylvia Plath, et al)
I wish someone had convinced her
not to turn on the gas
or stick her head
in the open oven

I wish someone had told her
she was good enough
In fact, she was more:
She was surely a genius

I wish someone had praised her work,
Someone who mattered in her own eyes
Someone who ratified what she knew
Someone whom she would finally believe

Treachery, jealousy:
Devil we name Insecurity
We call on the Goddess —
We need reminders: we hold the power

To fight false narratives: weakness, infirmity
To fight the villains who make us feel less
To trust the secret and share with the world:
We are good enough.

rash wind

by Jennifer Thiermann
rash wind
lily pads
flash their backsides

The Memory Field

by Sherri Baker
Tread softly through the memory
field, where thoughts abound but
are not all quite real.
A wisp of thought floats through
the air, driving you mad because
it's not really there. A sound, a smell,
an unspoken word will set off the bombs
that control this new world. With tangible
webs that catch you by surprise,
then spin you around in the field where
everyone's died. You've been left behind
stranded and alone, your thoughts are all
you have until they start to fade. Is it
possible your clearest memories were never
really there? Created like the stones
in the field that once was bare?
Lost in a moment that toys
with your mind, pulls all your strings,
rekindling thoughts of horrible times.
Driven to madness, not knowing what's real,
I shed my identity. I'm giving it all to
the memory field.

Midwinter's Eve

by Melissa Huff
Midwinter's eve we long for light
our fires calling through the night
to lure the solstice sun to stay
and linger     longer     every day
to not conceal its strength from sight.

We coax it back     our pleas invite
its warmth.  Can wishing thus ignite
the sun's rebirth?  For this we pray
Midwinter's eve.

And yes     our hearts believe      in spite
of dark     this ball of flame will fight
will pierce through cracks to find its way
between the stones     this one fierce ray
just like our hopes     so brief     so bright
Midwinter's eve.

(First published 12/21/18 by

six windows

by Mike Schoenburg
six windows 
two tellers 
the line grows longer


by Barbara Eaton
"A tall, blonde girl."
That's how I describe her to the host
while I'm waiting for her to arrive.

It's warm and sunny
with a little cool breeze.
I decide to sit outside
with my mocha frappucino.

I don't mind waiting
at the Starbucks
where we said we'd meet.

Her license plate reads "Teech."
Her car is a wine-colored Honda Accord.
She drives fast.
Is she here yet?  Not yet.
It's still early.

Caroline has an artistic temperament.
She makes beautiful ceramics.
She's a Scorpio.
She enjoys music--plays piano.
She works out a lot.
She likes to pray while she swims laps.
She used to be a journalist.
She writes poetry.
She is a gifted writer.

I'm still waiting.
Caroline has decided
that teaching high school English
is not for her.
Maybe she will enjoy
teaching at a community college.
I hope so.

What time is it?
She should be here soon.
Caroline can get angry at times
for the smallest things:
       a compliment
       she think is insincere.

       an unintended slight.


Now she is really late.
Caroline, Caroline.
Yes, she can lose her temper
but she usually recovers quickly.

She can also be
gentle as a butterfly
thoughtful as a swan
intelligent as her silent Persian cat.

She's not coming, dammit.
Her car broke down.

Now how did she ever
get the number of this Starbucks
to call
and tell me
she couldn't make it?

A Night with My Old Friend

by Candace Armstrong
A cookie for you,
Some wine for me.
We'll both sit down and watch TV.
Except you won't. You'll snore 
and ignore—even Animal Planet.

Later, I'll pick up my favorite fiction
while, begging, you ponder
your milk bone addiction.

Together we'll climb the creaky stairs
slowly, to appease our velcro knees. 
You'll thunk down in your favorite corner
and before I turn out the light,
I'll run my hand over your sleeping fur 
to feel your palsied dreams.

'Tis the Season

by James Tosh
'Tis a joyous time of year
Turkey day till January 1.
For family get-togethers
and children having fun.

For football on T.V.
and shopping for the women.
For hot chocolate and tea
and trees that need a trimmin'.

And don't forget the classics:
Christmas Story and the Miracle.
It's truly A Wonderful Life —
must see T.V. — it's just dutiful.

Christmas parties all on tap —
can't wait for that big bonus ?
Cheese balls and champagne —
please don't spill any on us.

Decorations all around —
so beautiful to see.
There's Santa, Rudolph, and Prancer —
just the way it should be.

So enjoy this special season —
it only comes once a year.
And when it's gone — it's gone !
The rest of winter is really here.

Star Constellations

by Bonnie Manion
Star constellations
Parade across the black sky
Spitting fire and light

A Naughty Lesson from Nana

by Joseph J. Solberg
"Come here," Nana rasped, with an
Asthmatic cough and chuckle, 
"Pull my finger, c'mon."
I stared at her spotted, fleshy hand.
Again, "Pull my finger!"
So, I put both hands together,
Turned my head,
Grabbed her trigger finger,
And gave a timid tug.

From deep inside my Nana,
Mount Vesuvius rumbled as
Her eyes squinted and her 
Face scrunched. 
At release, it reverberated 
Off her thick Italian cheeks 
And ricocheted off the oak chair, where
My father would soon sit for supper.
Next, Nana's naughty laugh, 
Causing her entire body to jiggle, 
As her seven-year-old grandson
Looked up in bewildered love and awe.


by Barbara Robinette
noon blasé....and yet
the favored place in this house of pine
is swiveling on the office chair 
for a day
that is mine all mine

It's Fall - Let's See

by Rafael Lantigua Medina
Honey, the grass is crispy this morning.
Frosty wind kissed my cheeks,
whispered your name
but you're bundled up.
No need for a cup of coffee yet,
recite a Dylan or Cohen poem,
or sing  a blues to crying America's heart
on my way to work.
Hell yeah! It is what it is.
Honey, nine miles later,
the sun is awaking up
behind a gelid fog.
And as I cross the memorial bridge
I see Mark Twain on the left
with a dusty-iced look
smiling at the barges
traveling down the great river.
Honey, you see,
I can grasp the warm
song of the awaking sun,
and feel what is ahead today,
even in this cold crispy crackling
Windy morning
Where bold Eagles hang out
On naked Ash Trees.
It is just fall,
let's see.
Let's see what is next.
That is all we can ask
at this moment.

The Lady in Red Confides to a Friend after Visiting Phillies

by Sheila Elliott
(Based on Hopper's 'Nighthawks')
"You could've heard a pin drop. So
quiet, just the rattle, that
old cup, mine, and the coffee's
smell. Us, mostly alone. So,
I set my hand where he had 
to pretend not to see. My 
third finger, left, an ivory
ring where that other ring used 
to be. And us, not able 
to speak. Even then, with all
the streets around, empty, clean
as a cafe counter at 
closing time. The hissing, that 
coffee urn.  Disconnection.
And my sigh. And then the
absence of a 'Good-bye'.

Not Good Enough

by Cassandra Crossing
Pulling the blanket closer around my neck,
my skin prickles from the rough fibers. 
I exhale, letting out all my insecurities and
the suffocating grief
of not being good enough
for her. 

Near the fire, I position myself and admire
the little, floating stars going up
into the dark sky. The misty air suffocates 
each tiny glimmer like an icy breath, 
choking out their life.

I am the light that's being swallowed up
and darkened. 
I'm torn by words of poison 
from her mouth.

Still, I steer my thoughts to her sublime vision, 
and my eyes rest,
beholding only her beauty and warmth.

When I was a child, she was everything to me. 
For her love, I cried even when she beat me. 
Helpless, I sobbed on the freezing stone floor,
clinging to her evermore.

Chickadee's Polar Vortex Shiver

by Emma Alexandra Kowalenko
I sit and shiver with a polar vortex quiver.
My quick movements altered, frozen beak to
wing tip, to feet, to beak, to
platform feeder, feet iced in the seed carpet
I bend painfully to eat.

I sift through the seeds
clouded through the mist
in my eyes, sockets pained 
by the wind fierce.

I bend, my bones crack, like the sunflower
seeds cracked, shelled peanuts, attack
my senses dulled. I force myself to manage.
I shiver to stay warm, warm enough
to eat on platform feeder copiously doused
with cayenne pepper.

Black coated seeds peeking through the
spicy dusting. I eat enough to fly the short
distance to the suet, blazing hot with 
pepper coating.
Red pepper, like velvet protects my
sustenance from wily squirrels.

I quiver with a polar vortex shiver, 
send a signal of thanks
to the humans who know how red pepper
like velvet protects my
sustenance from crafty squirrels.

River Pair

by Alan Harris
We spend a few sunlit minutes by the river
between wafting willows above
and the sea-bound twinkling current below,
watching two ducks quack and dive for food.

We have learned to be quiet,
letting the silent breeze of love
sway us together in spirit
like these oscillating cattails near the bank.

Younger, we captured each other swimming
in a marriageward current of living water,
not knowing quite who we were
nor where we were bound.

Older, we have danced a lively jig,
stubbed a toe, raised a child,
blindly hurt each other,
healed each other's wounds.

As we sit here and mirror the present
to each other in quaint communion,
gazing at two ducks gliding downstream,
there is nothing at all to say or do.

From Blue Sky in Buckets

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