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Poems by ISPS Members
December 2008
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Calvary

by John Pawlik
This
Is a story
Not often told
 
There is
By a town
Not far from here
A cross on a hill
 
On the ground
There are no
Bloodied garments
Cast aside
 
Only the head
Of a hammer
And three rusting nails
 
There was
At least one man
Who did not come
To Jerusalem
To suffer
For the sins
Of the world
 
You ask me intrigued
How I know these things
 
And I smile







Big Bang

by William Vollrath
Expectant infinity
Anticipatory void
Unknowable space
Primordial unity
 
Consciousness and matter
Born
Nature's cycles
Emerge
Force fields
Energized
Time and motion
Released
Countless, pulsating
Universes
Explosively launched
God's luminous aura
Brilliantly revealed
Order and purpose
Suddenly gifted
In the creative power
And fired synapses
Of a singular
Fertile
Thought...


("Big Bang" was awarded
first place, free verse
category, in Chicagoland's
Poets & Patrons 2008 annual
poetry contest.)







Economic Exodus

by Mark Hudson
A broken man was plodding through the snow - 
My father came in third place in a spelling bee
In the fifties, and it was on TV.
In political science, he got a degree
But drove a bus to make money.
He played bridge when he retired
Only to find his true calling,
As a bridge teacher he would've been hired
But I guess he spent time stalling.
A man in my class was in World War Two
He went to school, to be a doctor.
But art was what he wanted to do,
As he retired he could do it for sure.
A girl had brilliant art abilities,
But her lawyer parents wanted her to be one.
I'm sure she didn't have the humility
To follow her dream and now it's done.
Another woman wanted to be a teacher
But her family said there's not enough money
Surely enough she became a lawyer
Not following her dream is not funny
Whatever happened to the American dream?
Did it ever exist at all
It kind of just seems like a scheme
Guaranteed to make you feel small
With all the layoffs that occur
Will we be robbing banks
You can call Uncle Sam "Sir"
I prefer to say "No thanks"
To all the generals that endure
That are taking up the ranks
Thinking of where they were
Before they blew up things in tanks
If we put our faith in cash
If we put our faith in war
A human is no more than trash
The world's the same as it was before
So getting work where money exists
Good luck finding it anywhere
Should I go to Craig's lists
Anything I can do to prepare
It's hard to have any enjoyment
When you're dealing with unemployment
You're free to do whatever you wish
Any meal could be your last dish
Get a coupon for a cantaloupe
Make it last about a week
Can't afford a bar of soap
My, do my armpits reek!
I'm poor, but I'm free
Not motivated to participate
The unemployment line is so long
It would rather vegetate.
I can't compose my odes
With these worries on my mind
In this humble abode
I don't know what I'll find
A little mouse appears on the floor
"Daddy, can I have a crumb?"
I've been praised as a genius,
But right now, I feel dumb.
As people play the envy game,
"Oh, look what I've done."
To be honest, just the same,
A battle never fought is not won.
So when asked, "What do you do?"
I can only sit back and smirk.
"I paint pretty pictures of polar bears,
While everybody else goes to work."
And some might think it great,
And others may find it disturbs.
Whatever it is that you hate,
Can be found in the suburbs.
The President's got some tasks,
Overwhelming as can be
But someone should certainly ask
"What does it take to be free?"
The president himself might reply
"A lot of work from each of us.
Whether doctor or lawyer,
Teacher, or driver of bus."
If this country will continue
We can't compete with our neighbors.
Americans must cooperate,
In all of our various labors.
Don't be loyal to one icon,
Be loyal to many at once,
That way it won't be an Enron,
And you won't feel like a dunce!
So the future looks so bleak,
Or does it look so bright.
If you think your problems unique,
Grab a pencil and paper and write!
And then you'll find the magic formula
That writing brings perspective
And so the land of shock and awe
Is really ineffective.
Freedoms dwindle down to less
I can't remember them, I confess.
And so a call to gain them back
The battle isn't in Iraq
It's here, among the best
Don't lose faith in the west
This life is just a test
Let God figure out the rest!







What About Santa?

(Yule Log Entry No. 02_2004 by John E. Slota)
Each year about Christmas,
Thoughts enter my mind.
And form many questions 
With answers to find.

Can someone please tell me?
My heart truly cares.
Is there a Santa and
His Mrs. Out there?

And about those reindeer
There's more than a pair?
And what makes them able
To take to the air?

The Elves in their workshop
Make presents galore?
A sleigh full of goodies
For each child's door?

Can someone please tell me
Why should I believe?
He heads toward the heavens 
On each Christmas Eve?

'Twas kindled at birth
in the soul of mankind.
And fueled by a spirit
That fires the mind.

The answer is simple
Just look to your youth!
As sure as the sunrise
Old Saint Nick Is Truth!







Entering Old Age

by Bonnie Manion
is a lot like being a log afloat on a surge of the sea.
Like being in a sailboat without a rudder, far from land.
Like heading somewhere new without directions.

You're no longer in control, nor the captain of your ship.
Your choices no longer have a predictable effect; lifestyle
doesn't dictate your state of health, date of death, your fate.

People talk around you, about you, even while in front of you.
They don't ask your opinion anymore. You're inconvenient,
irrelevant. An anachronism. A lingering figment of the past.







October 2048

by Jim Lambert
I watched and wept
from a crowded cloud

as the sea was hungry
and the sky was fey.
Brilliant orange 
had turned to gray.

Glaciers cried
at their own lack.
Mountains mourned
the hurricanes circling
the Caribbean.

Tribes fought
for what was left--
rice, fuel, love--
and occasionally swam out 
to the Statue of Liberty.

The animals still extant
clamored to be pets
to coopt the ort of humans.

Abandoned hills of refuse 
stank and rotted
awaiting discards that
weren't.

At long last Greenland 
lived up to its name and
farmers harvested
sorghum at the south pole.

The captains of industry
had been stripped 
of epaulets
and hung
from their balance sheets.

Bar codes were printed
with invisible ink.
Dollars disappeared
and post-modern economics
had rusted to dust,

as I watched and wept
from a crowded cloud.








Undershirt

by Donna Pucciani
That undershirt
with the hole I'd like to put my index finger through
to hear the cotton rip with a muffled lisp,
like some sad animal crying--

too old to give to charity,
	could be discarded,
	could wash a car,
	could dust a table,
prefers to
	hug your shoulders,
	stroke your back,
	remain your frayed friend

where sleeve meets torso,
an outward sign of ragged rotator cuffs,
keeping the pain warm, or ventilating aches,
asking to survive just a little longer,

wanting to grow old with you,
as I do.


(Published in The Cape Rock)







Below Zero

by Jason Sturner
A dimness has poured over the bright of her day,
where dirty light tightens around the body, squeezing
bitter truth from lemon-flavored karma.
 
An infant's voice bounces and plays inside her head,
where love is a pale, frozen rainbow; shining
just faintly above an empty playground.
 
The choice came with the crystal air of a cruel winter.
The day was cold--unforgivably cold--but heat danced through it.
No one would come close to understanding this.
 
Now, she is rigid; severely pensive beneath falling white.
Acrobatic thoughts dissolve within her stillness
as winter coils around her, ready to strike:
 
And in the icy wind, a baby cries.
Tiny footprints in the snow fade away.
Where once was a life is now empty space--
empty space with a fading lullaby.







Beyond the Potomac

by Susan T. Moss
Lincoln sits in stony silence
with sleepless gaze while American
soldiers shrouded in ponchos and helmets
stride the Korean monument
 
near a black wall sanctifying
thousands who might have wondered
had they lived past Vietnam
what message this dark testament
 
could offer those remembered
in a registry
at the laurel-crowned spectacle
for the bloodied honor of World War II.
 
And this spring a hawk swiped a sparrow
and last night a coyote got the Wilson's dog.
Destruction flies on fragile wings
or stalks with hungry defiance
 
through our neighborhoods and lives
as we wonder what fear looks like 
and how to measure it in a form easy to grasp
when carnage howls at our doorstep.


(To be published soon in Out of Line journal)







My Trip to Egypt

by Farouk Masud
It was July, 2008
and as soon as we got off the bus
I could hear Tamer Hosny's latest song:
'Heyya Di'  
blasting from a car
zipping right past us. 
Well,
times have changed
since the days of the pharaohs,
since they built them triangular things
(can't remember the names of them).
 
We went to downtown Cairo
the next day
and went on a nice boat ride
down the Nile river...
   
    I dreamed we were flying
    like the souls of the dead kings
    that still roam these lands...
 
until my ear drums began to ache
from the loud music
the captain was blaring:  Tamer Hosny. 
 
Later that day,
we went up on top of the Burj,
the beautiful high tower.
The view was godly...
   
    I felt like the mighty Ra,
    sitting way up high on a throne,
    watching the people below...
 
until one of the tower guard's
cell phone started to ring
a familiar tune:  'Heyya Di.'
 
We returned to downtown 
the following day to watch a movie.
The cinema seemed more ancient than a mummy...
 
    I imagined legendary Egyptian actors
    Adel Emam and Fouad El Mohandes
    walking right through the doors,
    stepping outside to greet me...
 
until my wife screeched,
"Let's see Tamer Hosny's new movie:
Captain Hima."
Like I had a choice.
 
On the last day
we visited the pyramids:
how surreal they seemed,
with a city in its midst.
Like a forest preserve it stood:
alone and isolated
in the middle of sprawling urbanization.
I soaked in the sun,
and the thoughts,
that burned in my brain...
 
    how majestic and awe-inspiring,
    how exotic and mystifying,
    how primordic and intensifying,
    how...
 
Then I saw a guy walking towards me,
carrying a radio.
I swear to God,
if he starts playing Tamer,
I'm going to rip the stones
right out of the pyramids
and toss them at the sphinx.







Doubting God

by Patricia Gangas
A dark swell of bitter water
climbs over the sea wall of my soul,
and I wander in the wreckage
of my days without You.

I forgot Your hymns, Your heaven,
Your nesting in my heart.
I turned away to mingle with the jackals
of the noisy evening crowds,
knowing I never wanted all this earthly clatter.
I escaped into clever talks of why the world seems tragic,
or what wines might soothe my loneliness.
Candles burned away a thousand nights,
and my homesick heart stumbled,
forgetting what once wrapped my prayers in ecstasy.

Alone, I whisper Your name,
and I embrace my tear streaked sorrow,
as I run through darkening shadows 
caught in the chaos of unrelenting time.

Do You still remember me?
I am the one with mountain flowers in my hair.







Leaving the Pyramid

by David McKenna
Leaving the Pyramid - David McKenna







Dusk

by Annie
When the horizon's hue turns a mellow cream after the sun has set,
when the twilight comes to kiss the Earth good-night,
that soft time before the stars light the sky
and wafting clouds caress a waning moon -

My soul attends this hallowed scene in silent reverence
as at last a vesper sparrow sings the final evening's grace.







In Tribute

by John L. Axtell
In Tribute - John L. Axtell







SO THAT THE WORLD COULD NEVER FORGET

by Ina Perlmuter
YOU WERE FATHERS, BROTHERS AND PAPAS
I REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE NEIGHBORS
OUR WOMEN FOLK SHARED HOT MUGS OF COFFEE
AND MAMMA AND THE LADIES OF THE AUXILLARY
KNIT WOOLIE MITTENS FOR THE BOYS AT THE FRONT
WE NEVER, NEVER EVER THOUGHT YOU
WOULD TURN ON US AND JUST BECAUSE WE WERE JEWS
NEVER EVER, EVEN IF HITLER, THAT BASTARD
SAID THAT YOU HAD TO OBLITERATE OUR NAME
I SAW YOU, YES, YES I SAW YOU TURN FROM NEIGHBORS
TO STOOLIES, TO WICKED, FRIGHTENED MURDERS AND
YES, EVEN WORSE YOU ALL BECAME POSSESSED
WITH THE RHYTHM OF ANNIHILATION OF US JEWS
I SAW YOU, YES, YES I SAW YOU REMOVING THINGS
THINGS NEVER MEANT TO BE REMOVED FROM A BODY
HAZEL, BLUEBERRY BLUE, GREEN AND THE DARK
VELVET BROWN EYES OF THE SEPHARDIM
WHATEVER WERE YOU THINKING
YOU HAD SHAVED OUR HEADS WHEN WE ARRIVED
THE GOLDEN BLONDES AND ROUGHISH REDS
STRAW STRAIGHT, HINKY DINKY CURLS AND
YOU EVEN TOOK THE "RATS" CLASSY GIRLS WORE
WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAPPENED TO YOUR SENSIBILITY
HAD YOU ALWAYS BEEN ANIMALS, PERHAPS NAIVETE
OR OUR INSECURITY ABOUT BEING JEWISH
MADE US WANT TO BE ONE OF THE CROWD
SO WE CLOSED OUR EYES TO THE HATE AROUND US

YOU REMOVED GOLD CROWNS, PLATINUM BRIDGES
ARTHRITIC FINGERS WERE SACRIFICED FOR A PRIZED RING
YOU DID ME A FAVOR WHEN YOU SHATTERED MY GLASSES
I COULD NOT SEE THE BABIES TORN FROM MOTHERS' BREASTS
NOR YOUR DOGS RAVAGING SOME HELPLESS BEING
YES, YOU DID ME A FAVOR
BUT THE SOUNDS NEVER FADE
I CAN FEEL THEM IN MY BEING, I CAN TASTE THEM
AS BILE REGURGITATES AND BURNS MY THROAT
I'M AT A LOSS HOW THIS COULD HAPPEN
THAT FLESH BE MADE INTO LAMPSHADES
AND LIMBS SEVERED AND REATTACHED ON ANOTHER
ELECTRIC SHOCKS TO SEE HUMAN ENDURANCE AND
REPRODUCTIVE PROCEDURES DONE FOR PLEASURE
REMEMBER WE WERE FRIENDS YOU AND I
GOOD FRIENDS OR SO I FOOLISHLY THOUGHT
AND OUR PARENTS VISITED EACH OTHERS HOMES
SOMETIME I THINK IT WAS ALL A DREAM BUT,
EVEN THE DEVIL CAN'T CONTRIVE DREAMS WITH SO MUCH HATE IN THEM
I HAVE MY NUMBER, THEY'RE IMBEDDED UNDER MY SKIN
I OFTEN WONDER WHY THEY TATTOOED US THAT WAY
IS IT SO WE WOULD ALWAYS REMEMBER
OR SO THAT THE WORLD COULD NEVER FORGET







Hare
by Wilda Morris
For Edgar E. Morris
Look, dear, you
are a hare.
It says so here
on the placemat.
 
Shy, it says
and I believe.
 
Talented, which explains
why you sing so well.
 
Affectionate
so I squeeze your hand
under the table.
 
Compatible with. . .
 
Hey, it doesn't mention tiger
but we both know,
 
donít we?


(From Szechwan Shrimp &
Fortune Cookies: Poems from
a Chinese Restaurant
by Wilda Morris, RWG Press, 2008)







My Best Dream Yet

by Sandra M. Bringer
So little hope, my prospects none,
I sleep to hide. 
I dream I outrun the demons,
Hunger, Poverty, and Despair.
A victor at last!
In my dream, my best dream yet.

Triumphant, my arms in the air!
My prize is a bellyful.
Raised from the dead,
all I need to eat,
and some to spare.
In my dream, my best dream yet.

I am free.
Honorable, vigorous,
a man.
I outrun life's other demons.
I am respectable. I work.
In my dream, my best dream yet.

I am magnanimous!
A light in the dark,
an example for others in my care.
Blessedness, contentment,
my belly full, the sky's the limit.
In my dream, my best dream yet.







Roaming Around

by Dr. S. V. Rama Rao
Let us stay forever
in this state of living
day and night
year after year
eons through eons
for ever roaming around
in search of you--
the invisible and unattainable.
 
Do not all the children know
the thrill and joy of ecstasy
lie in playing
the hide and seek game
but not in finding the one
who hides 
seemingly unseen
not to be caught.







A Butterfly Specimen

by William Marr
netted with one scoop

 
          dazzling wings~

 bright sunshine~

                gentle breeze~

                             flower fragrance~

     soft birdsong~

                                     fluid glances~



now a Latin name
in the dim light
of the museum







Santa's Interior Monologue

by Alan Harris
Boy, it's dark.
Sure is cold.
Housetop--whoa, boys!
Got the bag.
Suck it in.
Down the chimney.
There's the tree.
Gifts out of bag.
Stockings are here.
Stuff 'em.
Eat the cookies.
Drink the milk.
Wink.
Suck it in.
Up the chimney.
Ready, boys--away!
Sure is cold.
Boy, it's dark.

(Repeat a billion times.) 







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