Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April 2005
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Storm Coming

by Theresa Broemmer
The air is thick,
Heavy and dense
As if it could be
Sliced with a knife
And physically
Separated.

The sky turns to
Polished steel,
Ominous clouds
Gather on the horizon.

Distant rumblings
Are felt, more than heard,
Leaves blow upward
And limbs bend
And sway.

Fat raindrops splatter,
Paint the cement
With a fresh, wet look.
The whipping wind picks
Up a gutter and launches
It across the yard.

Streaks of silver white light
Stretch across the darkening sky,
Rolling thunder
In the distance
Grows louder and stronger
Roaring through the twilight.
It is deafening.
Fat raindrops
Become gushing downpours.

Wind whistles
Through the trees,
At windows…
An eery green pallor
Settles on the skyline
Like an old bruise.

Watching from the safety
Of my screen door,
I stand in awe of
Volatile nature,
Hoping and fearing
The glimpse of the
Dreaded funnel.
The hair on my neck
At alert,
My fear and excitement
Battling within.
Take cover…storm coming.







Friends

by James L. Corcoran
St. Valentine related meat
where in the value down
the street a mannequin disguises
facts and argues and refuses
acts of clear nostalgia and
decries the out of order and
denies the smeared out theory
of the white pronounces over
and with bite no doubt about
the question is the answers
shout and rover sins but who
can bequeath and then design
who over and out became the signs
and in a random act of love
discovered relating him above







When Your Former Lover's Getting

by Job Conger
For lovers who lose, who don't mean to choose
the son of a bee or bee who breaks your heart,
a special kind of pain, a rueful refrain
can hit you from the moment that you part.
It comes with the heat that comes from defeat
of dreams and schemes and all the plans you made.
It eats you inside
when your former lover's getting . . .

How can she do this to me?
This lunge with a knee?
Why can't I just keep it inside?
There is no reason to cling
and cry over something
that somehow, in bitterness, became a nothing.

You laugh among friends.
You cry when it ends.
The problem is you have to cry alone.
So why cry at all?
The heart makes the call
from darkness where a true love once had grown.
So how to forgive,
and learn how to live
become the battle fought for debts full paid.
The cost can be high
when your former lover's getting. . .

There are no ties left to cut.
I'm no freaking nut.
I don't want to cause her more grief.
It's all too clear she's been wishin'
to resume freelance fishin'
and God only knows she don't need my permission.

And so it must be:
a blues melody,
a rhythm meant to soothe the wounded soul.
A stiff upper lip,
some words that are hip
restore an incomplete back to a whole.
You grow from an ass
to head of the class
when you allow old memories to fade:
the summa cum laude graduate,
when your former lover's getting . . .







Single Blessedness

by Beth Staas
I'm sad to say I'll never be a bride
for when I love, I end up gaining weight,
with appetite for food and love so tied
that I consume each at a gluttonous rate.

And when I love I always lose my brain,
my intellect a shameful bald pretense,
my lexicon with syllables so plain,
my conversation barely making sense.

Each day my body languishes and sighs
with no vitality, except to race
to see his smile, the shimmer in his eyes,
and wait for arms that fold in tight embrace.

While many a poet blissful love portrays,
I must foreswear their tempting words of praise.







Mountains

by Todd Possehl
Why
climb them
when you can
go through them?
I've always found
tunneling preferable
to reaching and pulling
myself up. There's nothing
in the ascent except rarified air
and frankly the view is overrated.

In a tunnel one's feet are firmly planted
and you can chip away at your own pace --
little by little under lanterns which light the way
in a greater darkness where no one can see you fall
to your knees -- in those moments of weakness -- inside.


(Previously published in Hidden Oak)







Little White Lies

by Michelle True
We tell each other
little white lies
so as not to
upset the balance.

Harmless at first,
the lies keep
our life quiet,
the water undisturbed.

One is stacked
atop the others
until the pile
threatens to fall,
leaning precariously
to one side.

As the lies crash down,
exposed at last,
the truth will finally
have found its voice,
but we won't be around
to hear it.







Second Home

by Erin Schroeder
Wednesday nights there's only one place where my best friend and I can be found.
It is a bar that is full of characters and karaoke hounds.
17358 South Oak Park Avenue is the address to be exact.
You'll never be sorry that you came and that is a fact.

DJ Jim usually begins taking requests around the time of nine.
By the early A.M. hours there are so many that those who can't sing whine.
As the regulars sing their specialty songs, excitement this establishment does not lack.
Vic sings "Love Her Madly," Alan "Jack and Diane," and Fr. Chris "Baby Got Back!"

If you don't like to sing, there's no reason to be sad.
There are other activities that provide much fun to be had.
One can dance to songs like "Milkshake" and "The New Electric Slide,"
Or step out into the beer garden to talk, relax, and hide.

Let's not neglect the other days of the week.
Once you've found this spot in Tinley Park, no further will you need to seek.
With great deals on drinks and the latest bands,
It's no wonder why this building has so many fans.

But this bar wouldn't be the best without its friendly staff.
Bouncers Mike and Rick prevent fights and ensure that everyone laughs.
Being promoted to Manager, Bobby's dedication and hard work everyone can see
And with the owner's presence, everything is as smooth as can be.

You ask, "What is the name of this special place with numerous charms?"
"This bar with a family-like atmosphere that welcomes you with open arms?"
Whether your style is country, rap, rock, or Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon,"
There's just no place like J.W. Hollstein's Saloon.







Sleep

by Ruth La Sure
Sleep, bird
morning is coming,
curled body,
hiss of heat in silver pipes,
Egyptian fields in pale yellow folds,
dreams to come.

And they do,
in deepest sleep
hiding in membranes
of almond shaped
shuttered eyes.

I dream of trees,
branches long as arteries,
leaves red as blood,
drifting and gliding.

Of poppies in wheat fields
ruddy red,
blooms
touching the sky.

Of grass
Yellow as the moon,
Blue veins,
Sharp points
Trailing the ground.

Of wind
like eagles
loving the high places
but kissing the earth
with its breath.

I dream of stars
and stones,
silence
in round liquid eyes,
fragments of sound beginning
like trees
sweeping the sky.

Songs come
after the strangest rain
like fingers
curling,
resting against a temple.

Melodies hiding beneath
lids
of iridescent
sleeping eyes.







The Power of Words

by Shirley Anne Leonard
The ages have their towers of hewn stone,
The creation of mute folk we cannot see.
But script and letters make their owners known,
Their thoughts acknowledged, and their history.

New tomes come down the aeons, page on page,
That bear their authors' image, time and place
To sculpt and paint the heart of fool and sage
In words that stay the march of time's quick pace.

They grant a voice that shouts beyond the grave,
As centuries and eras catch their light
And fling it through the heaven's endless wave
of utterance, midst galaxies of night.

The spheres revolve on words that spin to tell
The height of heaven and the depths of hell.







Bluebell Picking, England, 1964

by Ruan Wright
I was five and my brother seven
when our mother took us blue-belling in that early springtime heaven
between rainy March and foggy May in the misty north of England.

It was the Easter holiday. We took the bus,
just the three of us, and a picnic of hot tea in the Thermos,
our favorite mum-made apple pie, and egg-warm brown bread sandwiches.

A jolting half-hour ride
through city streets under smoky skies
past scraps of garden, bravely pert after the long, dry winter

we arrived!

Jumped off the bumpy bus, wended deep into the shady woods, up to our knees
in billowy clumps of bobbing bluebells with dewdrop beaded leaves.
All we could see, apart from the trees, were pools of hazy blue and April green.

The still damp earth yielded to our tread. It smelled
of mushrooms, leaf mold, waking trees, and the promise of more and more blue-belled
days ahead. We inhaled the earthy scent like we would our dad

Home from the office, exuding pipe tobacco, cherry
menthol, draftsman’s ink, a Chinese lunch, and creamy
Thornton’s toffee, one jaw stretching chunk for each of us.

Mum was buoyant like a boat that day, streaming her way
ahead of us through the sighing sea blue swathes;
we were little rivulets bubbling and trickling behind her cool green waves.

That night, when she tucked me into bed, her hair still fragrant with leaves and dew,
my fragile posy smiled across the room, and delicate bells bloomed
in my mind, nodding – all is well. All is fine.







Earthly Enigmas

by Tim Breitzmann
The horizon behind you, is in front of you
Your greatest strength, is your greatest weakness
The farthest point forward, is behind you
The farthest point to your left, is your right

We never want to say good-bye, yet suffer so if this denied
One can only go so far down, before one is going up
The beginning of life, is the beginning of death
Every sunset, is a sunrise

Life is a paradox
And we're all oxymora







Meditations on Terri Schiavo

by Larry Turner
Christian (Greek Philosophers' Version)

Always a private person, she looks down
with pity for all her family
yet with embarrassment
as TV cameras zoom in
on the body she left years ago.

Christian (New Age Version)

Only a few troubled spirits
must walk the earth
fifteen years, as she has
before their loved ones
finally let go.

Christian (St. Paul's Version)

A vague unease
disturbs her slumber.
Happily, when the trumpet sounds,
she will never remember
this turmoil.







after work jam session

by Steven Kappes
about one in the morning
at the end of the shift
when the paper
was put to bed
a bunch of us
would gather around
in the back of the shop
open the cases
get out the instruments

my mail-order guitar
wasn't too much
and I never
learned to play properly
but I could follow chords
and strum along
with all the others
keeping the beat

each had favorite songs
mostly old country
i sang Hank Williams
that my wife
wrote down the lyrics for
listening to the records
over and over again
she probably knew
the songs better than me

we'd play until
the sky started to get light
then put everything away
smile and nod
head for home
each on his own
knowing that for few hours
the rapture of the music
had joined us
closer than brothers







In Retrospect

by Sally Calhoun
the white wicker rocker
idling like a tethered boat
by the second-story window facing front from our house
cradles me as I curl up      alone in the room
reading Dickinson
lost       in awe
and found     here across the road from the lake
wavelets
rippling, repetitive,
familiar     chew at the shore
without ceasing
how happy I am
pierced through both by words and by water moving
by lilacs
the outside world shines
like a tapestry streaked with golden threads
the inner world expands as my heart plummets
                         through layers of meaning
as rich as the filling of a Dobos torte
a bird tiptoes by on the telephone wire
not a hawk
but, like a Wallenda,
leaps away      soars
dips aflutter
like my heart
fifteen years old
having discovered something wonderful
something better than any dessert
even Crème Brulée







Spring

by Pat Petros
birds are singing
warbling whistling
forsythia fills its branches
with fragile gold birds
pussy willow stalks flutter
under the perch
of tiny gray birds
birds are singing
in the tall elm branches
they sing in the bright afternoon
and in the dusky evening
one hears singing birds







A Brown Bear Kissed Me

by Wilda Morris
(For Rhonda)
Mother
never touched me

Father used me
for a punching bag
a porn picture object

I was depleted
destitute      voiceless

but once
I was licked by a brown bear
as I slept in the park

It was the kiss of God







Eyes

by Jared Smith
What have you done with the lakeshores
I have fished along each spring among the tall grasses
speckled with goldenrod and fiery purple loosestrife,
tinged with sunset swallowtail butterflies?

Wherever you have stored this
it is inside a hollow skull.   Your hollow centers tell me this,
your round portals of hope leading into despair.
Yet the halos of tiger's-eye that border you
reflect the fringes of meadows that are always with you.

Why have I carried these vacant spaces with me
to fill them and carry them on mile beyond year if only to leave them here,
having no bottom and containing nothing or everything?
Why have you swept the horizons and stared into star filled nights
and sought the inky darkness of words on pages written by the dead
if you are going to filter them into a bony bowl to be left behind?


(Previously published in The Spoon River Poetry Review)







Swan Lake

by Mardelle Fortier
Memory of Gold
A swirl of fire and ice, she stretched pale arms
and legs in a ballet of silver flight.
A swan she brought to life, her subtle charms
shone forth before the world in rose and white.
She danced in air her brave and lonely song
as violins yearned loud down bluish frost.
Her pirouettes unfolded bright and long
while from her eyes stared little orphan lost.
Did flame of angels melt the brittle ice?
Did ice though wounded drown the burning swan?
Oksana circled the sad river twice.
We looked around--the loveliness is gone.
O memory, throw sparks into the night
so that those wings can rise into the light.


(Previously published in ISPS Newsletter, Jan. 2005)







Plowhorse

by Alan Harris
My horse and I are brothers,
and the morning sun knows why.

Within my horse resides
a soul, I'm pretty sure--
more wisdom than just to strain
and turn brown fields to black.

I'd guess this horse was human
in ages before the Ice,
but now for some dim reason
is sentenced to the plow.

Service, a horse's essence,
had best be, too, my own
as we pull such plows as matter
into ages still to come.

My horse and I are brothers
and the morning sun knows why.







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