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Poems by ISPS Members
June 2008
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Deep-Fried Twinkies

by William Vollrath
Truffles for a weary soul or
just the bone-deep fatigue from
bills in the mail, dents in the car,
poop in the yard, sugar in my urine,
murder in the suburbs, scandal in Washington,
madness in Iraq, foolishly lost love...
I'll take a dozen to go

(First published in Prairie Light Review, Fall 2007)







Fields

(for my husband Tom)
by Patricia Gangas
A dark drizzle wakes me in this dawn,
as a graveyard spirit wars inside my mind...
it is like the darkness that deepens
where the shivering stars end.

My mind has broken down again,
pulled away to the thinning line
between charred days and zigzag hope.
I feel it in the crumbling landscapes
of my gunning poems,
in the winds that race across my thoughts
flying in some terrifying disorder.

But darling,
as you hold me between your bolt-strength shoulders
I understand your sheltering,
turning everyday to rise against my monsoon madness,
my windmill moods.

My weariness has racked you badly
as you look for my perfect launchings,
rolling backward at my shipwrecks,
asking as your palms open forth,
where are we now?
I do not question your fears,
I understand.
My fate's twined in yours,
so when we look at each other
we speak what is darkness.
But still, we love one another like ringdoves and sea-birds.

Through all of our lost and found seasons
we call out to one another
for the hidden years, for so many words believed.
Devotedly we are joined together,
mingled like communion, into a common dish.
What extravagant God gives me you?

O, my sunfish friend,
I wait in a far field,
a hidden well beneath a garden...
someday, in the springtime,
for you,
I will sprout fields of forsythias--
a flowering hymn to your name.







Davidian Sonnet Deviation

by David McKenna







Living on Borrowed Time

by Mark Hudson
Yesterday I went to leave my apartment,
I was greeted by the fire department.
"We're going to see the lady on the second floor,"
And I heard them go up and open the door.
Ambulances and fire trucks were there,
So I walked by and tried not to stare.
They brought her to the hospital, but it was too late,
She passed away, and that was her fate.
It reminded me how short life can be,
You never know when it'll be you and me.
I was watching the news that very same night,
They reported on time and gave some insight.
They talked about how Americans cram work in one day,
Thirty-four into twenty-four is not quite okay.
All this technology, is it our master?
We stand in front of our microwave, to make it go faster.
In elevators, we push the button more than once,
To make it go quicker, we act like a dunce.
They interviewed people in Hawaii on their honeymoon,
They were on vacation, but it would end soon.
They lugged their work along on their vacation,
We're all really working hard in this nation!
But as you can see, nothing gets done,
We're out of work, but not having fun.
What would you do if you didn't have to work,
Would you start that novel, based on that quirk?
Would it take a heart attack to restart
A brand new life, in which you'd take part?
Do you have regrets you haven't resolved
Is there something in which you should get involved?
Should you go for that dream, although it's absurd,
Do you want to become as free as a bird?
Well, now is the time to spread your wings,
But first, you must do some things.
If you are in a job you really can't stand,
And you can't seem to do the things they demand,
Why retire and go to the nursing home,
There's still some time in which you can roam.
They're making the retirement age later and later,
And that's why I am a government hater.
They're trying to make people work until they drop,
I guess they don't want people to stop.
They won't pay people what they're worth,
And the world sees America as the scum of the Earth.
The concept of freedom was this country's foundation,
And it seems to have evaded another generation.
Social security running out of loot,
For fighting a war, now who to recruit?
You can't spend money you haven't got,
And now we're in debt....thanks a lot!
The government doesn't want to give benefits to the poor,
If they have no money, let them fight in the war...
But they have no jobs for anyone to do,
How can we work? I don't have a clue.
If you worked a minimum wage job, which I'd resent,
You'd have to work one hundred twenty hours to pay rent
The government raised minimum wage....big deal!
They're a bunch of crooks, with a lot to steal!
So when it comes to voting, I'm not sure,
Which crook I'd elect, how will we endure?
Live each day like the end is near,
The grim reaper is no one to fear!







On Passage

by John E. Slota
Midnight,
Come She will,
To veil me in peaceful slumber.
Mother of Dawn,
Dusky Maiden,
I seek solitary repose.
Hush the moon in your darkness.
Starlight,
Stepping-stones
Guide me to your heavenly bosom.
Lead me to the garden.
There I shall shed my skin and bare my soul.
Misty blanket,
Dew surround me
'Til first light bid me welcome.







Lunar Eclipse

by Donna Pucciani

The night of the red moon floats
on the breath of a drunken sailor
who cries out for vodka and his mother.

In cloud-purple foam, his ship tosses,
and after black waves pummel the rocks,
sun-splinters dash a blue morning sky
with a handful of gulls.

He dreams of how to make thunder,
dances all night under the deck,
beats time on a barrel, captures the wind
in his ears, and with his sun-blistered lips
drinks up the storm drop by drop.

(First published in Mid-America Poetry Review)








Prostitician

by Farouk Masud
Prostitute plus politician
Equals prostitician.
He's basically your bureaucratic 'ho,
In case you didn't know.
Pimpin' politics is the game;
Without guilt or shame,
He'll do anything for a bribe;
Unto hypocrisy you must subscribe.
Want a law passed? Just pay the fee:
Normal everyday gratuity!
He'll say one thing and do another;
He's just a real bad mother--
Con artist switching sides,
Whenever the election changes tides.
Venal behavior imbedded in our brains,
All in the name of libertarian gains.
Don't you see something wrong with this system?
To get things done, we have to a$$i$t him.
By his poetic tongue, we embrace his fallacy,
Helping him achieve his monetary fantasy,
God forbid he runs for presidency.







The Pace of Waiting

by Jason Sturner


  (From his chapbook Selected Poems
  2004-2007
)







Confessional

by Theresa Broemmer
Confessional, dark and quiet
Forgiveness given, hands of God
Bestow penance and justice
Returning the lambs to his fold

In supplication, on your knees
Confessional, dark and quiet
Sinful souls, stripped bare to ask God
Through earthly hands give love again

Comfort sought in this room of truth
Guidance needed to receive God's grace
Confessional, dark and quiet
Prayers said in congregation

Sanctuary found in God's house
True contrition aflame in souls
Sorrowful, repent in the mind
Confessional, dark and quiet







Dragons

by William Marr
    Emperors were regarded in old China
    as divine manifestations of dragons


no one has ever seen
a real dragon
even with imperial permission
to raise one's head

yet on numerous towering rooftops
people sculpted the images of dragons
omitting not even such a minute detail
as the scanty whiskers







The Life I Never Got to Have

by John Pawlik
A white house
With a long green
Back yard

My wife
Of many years
Making a
Holiday meal

My daughter
Bringing her children
To visit the old man

My son
On vacation
Saying Pop
I found a great place
Not far from here

Let's go
Fishing







Reciprocal Poetry Reviews--
A Melding of Mediocrity

by Jim Lambert
Fellow poets, near and far
whether at home or in a bar,
come and join us in a bee
to meld our mediocrity.

You review my book
and I will yours.
We'll lend our thoughts
on poetic tours

of each other's work
which we've collected,
pored over, parsed,
and then connected.

Your book was lovely,
its poems deep.
I read it all
ere I could sleep.

Each line, each theme,
each metaphor,
kept me enthralled
and wanting more.

I give it four stars
and nothing less.
Of the many I've read,
it's among the best.

So as you savor
this glowing review,
remember that mine
is perfect too.







The Garden of Songs

by James L. Corcoran
Plant here the alphabet some patchouly
some wine there in the garden sprinkle
a little lyric on a poem and see her hand
come up to it orphic tantrums caught in
spring flowering symphonies from dawn
beaming through the dance amidst bliss
carrying rhapsodies of swirls of songs
exhaled of Sirius and mirth of magic and
melancholy songs of birth and death songs
ruling day and more songs the music of
Apollo played on the pipes of Pan rendering
the serenades of sirens and silences the
measure of rhythm and the rhyme of jazz
songs that make you start singing in your
feet and make you stand up and yell songs
of the gypsies that tell stories and games
of songs medleys and melodies sojourning
and meandering poetry and music and
prose the songs that chime and songs that
hail songs that sum up and quantify notes
of quality digital songs and analog tunes
runes of notes of songs gone by and then a
song for all that is forgotten a song of songs







Relationships

by Caroline Johnson
A yellow goldfinch on a tall sunflower
pulls seeds from the brown center,
gathering what he needs, while
every day life slips away from us,
a smile lost, a hug that never quite
reaches outstretched arms. We yearn
for symbiotic relationships--a nod of
the head, the ring of the cell phone,
horseback riding with a friend, easy
conversation with a cup of Java.
We need the familiar among the strange,
turning on a light switch in a darkened room,
petting a cat whose whiskers graze your hand,
understanding a sentence in a foreign tongue,
cutting your knee only to have a nurse dress it.
Losing your senses only deepens the connection--
a Braille book describing sunsets, a signed
conversation about Spanish infused Jazz.

(Published in Prairie Light Review, Autumn 2006)







When I Knew

by Wilda Morris
When we were walking across town
and suddenly the cardinals and robins
ceased their songs and wind dashed
through windows blowing papers off desks,
and rain spilled from the grey bowl of sky
straight down, washing the green Pontiac,
bouncing like balls from the asphalt,
rinsing leaves of oak and cottonwood,
snowball bushes and daisies on front lawns,
the squirrel pulled its tail over its back,
twin boys in matching blue overalls
with sea-blue shirts, shoes in hand,
giggled through the gully oozing from the pavement
ignoring their mother's calls to come in,
and the teen who had been sauntering
down the street in blue jeans and tight tee
dripping as if she just got out of the shower,
cursed under her breath because
her curls had washed out,
accepted a ride from the boy
whose scratched up Ford squealed to a stop
when he saw her, and watching them,
I slipped from the walk, falling
into the edge of a not-yet-planted garden
and you reached down and pulled me up
into a muddy hug, oblivious to the dirt
smearing your shirt, it was then
I knew.

(First published in Willow Review, XXXIV, 2007)







There's War

by Sandra M. Bringer
I
Said the well heeled to a Sudanese,
what have you to say?
Your face is worn, your clothes torn.
When's the last time your hair was shorn?
Humiliated and frightened
looking over his shoulder
he whispered, There's War.

II
Outside observer here for the day
files reports to superiors about the disarray.
Hey Iraqi, what's your story?
Look at this place, not one happy face,
no trains or planes to take one's leave.
When can we expect a democracy?
Unarmed civilian fist raised,
belligerent shouts, There's War.

III
Holy Land tourist to Palestine
curious to know what's new on the home front?
More woe and defeat, your energy spent,
your people beat.
Is all you can say the same status quo?
Clenched teeth, defiant, veiled
ready to die, no end in sight, There's War.

IV
Their eyes are on fire a fact finder notes.
Child soldiers your mothers are weeping.
Young killers, days filled with rampage and horror,
sleep without peace. Enough tears for a lifetime,
when will your pain cease?
Disappearing in war's black hole child voices softly cry, There's War.

V
Do-gooders say rally citizens. Can you not see?
War's not your fate, it's unseemly.
Look how we give. Pray like us, this may all go away.
The lectured throw their hands up filled with despair,
if God's not on our side can anyone care?
Sitting in refugee camps, dependent on small mercies,
afraid of reprisals, careful what they say, There's War.

VI
State officials and newscasters
repeat words coined for public consumption.
Insurgents, catastrophic, genocide, advances and waves,
stay the course; updates will follow, with more troop reports.
The stakes are so high it's a sin to ignore
these words are echoes from wars fought before.
Few lessons learned, no solutions born, There's War.

VII
Today's newest ware refugees plod on their way,
half-hearted, mired in mud,
weakened and sickened at family blood.
Numb. Feet as heavy as stone
wonder if they'll ever see home?
Ammunition smoke rises,
baby throats burn, the aged drop at each turn.
The world heaves her greatest sad sigh
for all those fallen and the next to die, There's War.







All of Us

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
All of us
wanted to return to India
after completing the education.
Never dreamt that our stay
would be so long -
years and decades are passing by,
we are still here - all of us.
Our parents, brothers and sisters
are there in India
and we in America.

Our young daughter
born in this land of opportunity,
performs Bharatanatyam
classical dance of India,
chants Bhagavad Gita
the holy book of Hindu religion, and
eats our Indian spicy food in a funny manner -
mixing all the curries including fried-okra with curd-rice.
When she speaks in broken Telugu,
our mother tongue from South India,
it sounds like she is singing in English.
She keeps the American and Indian flags
on her study desk,
watches romantic movies in Telugu language and sings American pop songs.
America is not an alien land,
simply a different country like India,
she says.
For the two countries
she is the connecting bridge.

Water is the same in all the rivers, and in any country the snow is white.
The lake water in my home town
Palos Hills, a suburb of Chicago in America
and the canal water in my birth place of Gudivada of Andhra Pradesh State
in India are the same except in name.

Where we came from
shows the mirror,
where we are heading
shows our daughter.







Ireland in Summer

by Bonnie Manion
Geraniums splash whitewashed cottages
in giddy red under the splay of early morning light,
and a jumble of raspberry brambles
garlands the knobby cobblestone roadside girdle.

Bursts of lavender rhododendron
bejewel glades of dappled apple-green,
while meadows patched with brilliant gorse
blanket the languid afternoon.

Clover and heather fling their pungent scents,
cling wild afresh moldering ancient slopes,
and rose boughs tumble down innumerable
walls of crumbling memorial ruin.

A fusion of blooms lingers in the gloaming,
a plump mothering scent calling me home
across the gathering skirted darkness
of twilight shimmering on the Irish Sea.







piracy policy

by Andrew Rafalski
I read the Terms and Conditions
the piracy policy calls for severe penalties
if you use software without paying for it

in addition it's not your software
even if you pay for it
your rights may be withdrawn
at any time it says so right there

and if you
violate the terms
you may be prosecuted to the fullest
extent of the law and more:
by twisted interpretation of the Patriot
Act you may be found guilty of sedition or
treason and be sent to gitmo
and no one will ever hear from you again

until a new Cuban revolution
might free you
and wouldn't that be ironic
or maybe peachy

but don't repeat this

I may be prosecuted
just for daring to think it

to the full extent of the law

it says so right there
in fine print

           click Yes if you want to keep
           breathing







The Wolf by the Bed

by Mardelle Fortier
I lay huddled in my old flannel gown,
my chill sweat cringed.
Buried in thick gloom, my bedroom
seemed disconnected from other rooms.
Far from parents, I watched the wolf
prowl toward me, only the ears showing
above the blankets. Those hyper-alert ears
knew all about me: my exact position
on the narrow bed and the locked
state of my tongue. My hope had gone down
with the sunlight. I was nothing
but a frozen ball of dread and fear.

No sounds, small and tremulous, fluttered
past the chains of shadows. I forgot
my clothes, my books, the order
of grammar, math and science.
I lay still as the lump caught in my throat.
I never analyzed the origins of the wolf
as it drew closer...breath was jailed
in dim cramped lungs
and heart raced in vain to get away.
If only I had known:
this wolf too was trapped;
it came from my own brain.

(Published in Prairie Light Review,
Spring '08)







Little White Circles

(Angels of Love)
by Rick Sadler
Little white circles surround me in a photo
I can't explain why they are there as though

They are angels there in my little garden
As if they are protecting me and guarding

Me from all evil that trouble me in life
Sent from Above to take away my strife

Maybe they're one of nature's special effects
As drops of rain in the sun's light reflects

To the camera lens is a part of my soul
That you see standing by the bean pole

I like to think of them as angels dancing
Around me in my imagination enhancing

My love for God and all the marvelous of
Wonders in our universe in angels of love


Dedicated to:
Jessica Hall







When Poems Are Still

by Alan Harris
It is calm of times now,
poems having disappeared like a mist.
Yesterday's nagging scintillations
that promised a tryst of wordings
now lie content below any saying, any art.

Quite free from poetry is almost any peace
until some brazen poet arrives
to stir up some alphabet soup--
but the very deepest calms, like a sea bottom,
lie mute beneath all chop of words and wind.

Today let there be rest from poems
and from other twistings of the mind,
for it is calm of times now, free enough
for wordless breath, and breath, and breath.







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