Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
December, 2021
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Poems on this Page:

Moving Day

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
For (Alicia Daniel)
As next door neighbors we made a clubhouse by connecting screen doors
We played checkers, Old Maid and Uno and you always kept the score
Your mom was very strict and wouldn't let you leave the ramp
We made the best of it until I went off to summer or winter camp
Often I accompanied you and your mom to church and bible study
We were inseparable we were like Laverne and Shirley busom buddies!
When we realized our initials DA and AD were transposed
We made a game of it and each morning when we saw each other
We'd yell them out... okay... at the time it seemed funny I suppose.
We lived in #409 and #410 near the elevator and stairwell
You loved to recite stories and goodness the jokes you'd tell!
On some weekends we'd listen to my mom playing Sam Cooke
We'd dress our dolls as we sat side by side in our little nook.
If I live to be a hundred and ten I will never forget the good ole days,
Just as I will never forget when you came and told me you were moving away.

Twists and Turns

by Charlotte Digregorio
after my sister departs
i wake to peace—
the robins' chitchat
ripples in autumn's orange
yellow and red

i lie in bed
family squabbles forgotten
realizing i'm not
the black sheep
but the black squirrel

i rise carefree
stroll the beach
repeating the poetry
of tongue-twisting
"Sally sells seashells"

on the way home
deep in moist leaves
that pad my path
i linger to spot
a black squirrel

(This is a tanka sequence. Tanka sequences are lyrical, have five lines
and a maximum of 31 syllables in each stanza. Capitalization and
punctuation are used sparingly, if at all.)

Covert Action

by Marie Asner
These streets are cold at three a.m.,
at five the world turns gray.
Listen to the frost still trying to etch the moon
in frigid air as stars fall in pairs across the sky,
while somewhere, storms are churning darkened seas.
We begin with a day so foggy
the world ends where neighboring fields begin.
Dawn is rude———
nudging young maples from snow's warmth,
A red arrow of unwanted cheer,
the cardinal tries to keep his balance
on tree branches mantled in ice
that are covertly plotting
to toss this intruder into a corn field.

A T-Shirt's Perspective

by Carole R. Bolinski
Hanging in her closet
of lavender and lime,
leisure all around me
waiting for my time.

Her hand glides over hangar
then pushes me aside—
choosing a gray neighbor
this time, I'll let it ride.

It's lonely in this space
near others that she's worn,
with new hope each morning
to be the chosen, then adorned.

I have the most cotton
can't she see
I'm that special t-shirt
100%, of just me.

Talking Outloud

by Kathy Cotton
No, no, she didn't pack The Question
in her travel bag. Perhaps she left it
on a bed-side table. Or in the pocket
of a shirt now agitating in the washer
along with mismatched imperatives.

For this downstream rush of words,
which might picnic indefinitely
on a sandbar or spill into a wide river
or an ocean, it's enough that she
brought thoughts ending with...

As conversation flows along,
drifting off course here, jammed
on a rock there, interrupted by the
splash of a sunning turtle, she will

unexpectedly hear her own voice speak
a Perfect Answer. Then she'll see, washed
up on her beach, that puzzling Question
she had tucked into a bottle and tossed
into her own deep sea.

(From Common Ground)

There lies a beauty of her

by Hanh Chau
there lies a beauty of her 
capture through the moon light 
Of shadow 
Display through the 
darkness veil 
Of the sparkling smile 
With the elegant pose 
Moving across the horizon stage 
Shining through her presence 
Like a jewelry diamond 
that comes to known as
the bright light 
Of twinkling stars 
Upon the grey sky 
that dazzling through 
the galaxy universe
Filled with a mysterious talk 


by Sherri Baker
Behind a small, nondescript house
sat my mother's garden full of irises,
a long row of delicate purple flowers
that I helped tend in trade for coins
scattered at the bottom of her purse.
I learned a lot, caring for that garden.
I found that irises were like my mother,
slender but strong like the stalk, 
head held straight like the center petals
reaching toward the heavens, shoulders
slumped with years of sorrow and grief
like the outer petals of her favorite flower.
The coins are long gone, spent on candies
and cheap plastic toys, but the lesson I
learned all those years ago has endured.
Now, when I visit my mother,
it's at a cemetery, the irises
I bring are artificial, but the
memories they evoke are just as real
as the tears that fall when I bring them. 

(From Sherri with an i, Poems of
Love and Loss

the silver lining

by Tom Chockley
the silver lining
winter evening

Time's up

by Bakul Banerjee
High up on the wall, the clock ticks.
The end of the minute hand blinks.
It reflects overhead industrial lights 

from the high ceiling, synchronized 
with the rhythm of my arms 
heaving the purple rowing machine. 

Suddenly, the silver light turns dull 
and stops twinkling as the minute hand 
hits the marker of nine and a quarter. 

Time's up. The angle of reflection shifts.
The shine becomes dreary as a life 
gives up colors to death as dazzling 

Venus in spring disappears into the pink 
horizon at dawn. The watch on the wall 
blurs in my consciousness as life goes on.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

by Candace Armstrong
The season of light
approaches in darkness
making its entry
even more dramatic
upon the stage
of a damaged world.

But its very reappearance
erases any doubt
of a grander plan
an orderly universe
created by a power
far greater than we can know.

Lying in ER

by Gail Denham
Lying in the overflow section of ER, 
hours creep by, slow. Right now, rooms 
in this hospital are limited. Thoughts 
run wild. Why the delay? Is my illness 
so serious? Do I need more tests? What 
aren't they telling me?

Now and then an over-worked nurse
pokes trots in, pats my hand, assures 
me all is well. I want to believe.

Oxygen tickles my nose. I'd like to yank
out all the tubes, go home and watch 
"Chopped" on the food channel; view 
contestants create dishes with bizarre 
ingredients, most of which have no 
relationship to each other.

Mostly I like the dessert round. Somehow 
it's soothing to see whipped cream top it all.

Like we patients, lying here, from all parts 
of the county, pulled from warm beds
or recliners, thankful for the efficient,  
dedicated health workers, waiting for 
a doctor to pronounce I'm ok. Tell me
there's whipped cream after all.

Or perhaps he'll call out a disease I've 
never heard of, or one I never wanted 
to name out loud.

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