Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
January, 2023
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Poems on this Page:


by Mark Hudson
	I was on my way to my art class
in Evanston, Illinois, on the train. I was
sitting next to an African-American man.
	Suddenly an African-American
CTA worker got on the train.

	"Do you have any money for me?"
the man next to me said.

	"You have all your money in your bag,"
the CTA worker replied.

	"I've got a dollar in my pocket, and 
that's it. No wife, no girlfriend, no kids.
Do you have kids?"

	"I've got kids and grandkids." 
	The conversation kept on this way, but
it remained pleasant.
	Then I got off the train at Noyes Cultural
Art Center, and there were two white kids about
eight years old walking by with their bicycles
and tennis rackets.

	I heard a snippet of their conversation.

	"How many times have you been out of
the country?"

	"I've only been outside of the country once."

	"I've traveled outside the country tons of times!"
the kid boasted.

	Spoiled kids, I thought. Then I realized God is
good, and his kingdom is coming to Earth, and one
day everything will be fair and perfect.

Winter Sunrise in Illinois' Hill Country

by Michael Escoubas
A few miles out from the prairie
where the hills
speak not of corn silks and soybeans,

the sky flames red above dormant pastures
and the trees
root themselves on hillsides. The Sun peeks

above a hillock, the closest thing
in Illinois
to a mountain. The tumultuous sky

burns hot as the human heart when
nature extends
her hand ... the dawn, great and strong,

now shed of autumn's copper leaves
and sensuous
spices. The earth itself feels almost

human, reflecting changes felt when
seasons send their
timeless message of beauty within change.


by jacob erin-cilberto
coughing up the blood of poets
stretched lines in the back of the throat
spurts of syllabic liquid
from the pen
clot on the sterile page
where words cut
in the memory 
so that poetry 
may live a long healthy life

Thanksgiving 2022

by Mark Hammerschick
The roast beast is resting quietly
crisp green beans melt with garlic
pork stuffing broods slowly
onions and celery seethe
edging ever so closely
to battered mashed potatoes
salad slides
rolls are slashed
candied yams recoil
cranberries drift
memories of corn stalks melt
talking faces flutter
in the hazy late afternoon
wining away a petite Syrah sloshing
violently at the edge of your mouth
you don't notice
you never do
pass the patience
load up on guilt
taking your personal trip
as you gaze hollowly at the view
gnarled Frazier firs
swaying bending undulantly
and for a brief moment
your eyes hit the sunlight
and then nothing
as you stare into the mac and cheese
as you fade into the haze
noshing chewing
pistons pummeled
mumbling your guilty lies
despised shunned
sitting on the last step
as you shred the last drumstick
and fling it into the forest
dark and deep
lots of miles to go
until you finally sleep
final waves
so we wait and suffer

Praying for the Lost

by Idella Pearl Edwards
Lord, I pray just now for loved ones
Who needs your tender touch.
Help them to experience Your fullness of joy
For You know, I love them so much!
According to Mathew, without faith,
It's impossible to receive.
As I lift these prayers to You, O Lord,
Help me to believe.
Lord, You desire all to be saved
And experience the truth of Your love.
May my loved ones know the blessings that come
From their Heavenly Father above.
Save them, Lord, with your great power,
Father, forgive their sin.
Pour out Your Spirit into their hearts,
And let their new life begin.

A Retired English Teacher's Wish

by Kate Hutchinson
More than thirty years — half my life —
can that be right? So many young faces,
thousands, floating in and out of classrooms,
singular names, voices, handwriting, ideas,
all loosed upon the world each year
to age into parents and grandparents.
Thirty years. So many teenagers, so many
readings of the great stories and poems
and plays. Did any of it matter to them?
Do they remember even one trial
of Odysseus? One line from Hamlet
beyond the given? The seven cool
pool players at the Golden Shovel? 
Does even one of them suddenly realize
the truth Esperanza saw when trying on
a pair of high-heeled shoes? Or empathize, 
finally, with Okonkwo when faced
with the choice of defying an unjust rule?
So many hundreds of eager faces,
bored faces, innocent and arrogant faces.
So many ways for wisdom to eventually
find purchase in the twisting and turning
paths beyond those high school doors.

'Tis Seasonal

by Goldie Ann Farkonas
The Sun gave powers to each planet in its special way,
Each planet, does then vary as to climate, life, each day.
Each planet has its path while circling round the brilliant sun,
Father Sun sends rays of light to all — is never done!
The very busy Father Sun discovered — gracious find,
He found a dream, a special spirit, always there, so kind!
He gave to Earth, third planet from the Sun, a special gift,
A caretaker, a Mother's Love, for hearts to glow and lift.
The Earthlings call her Mother Nature, as she does, to please,
She does her best with seasons four, in bringing each with ease.
In March of every year, dear Mother Nature wakens Spring, 
Spring Primavera goes to Earth, delivers warmth, to cling.
The budding trees bring nesting birds, which grow and learn to fly,
The sleeping grass begins to grow, and catches every eye.
Each blooming flower brings a scene of beauty, at its best,
Now, gracious Primavera views her work — it's time to rest.
As Spring goes home, her sister, Summer, does arrive,
She sees that beauty given will remain their time, survive.
She brings in rays of sun and rain drops, for new life on Earth.
For she respects all life, her sister Spring did  give — rebirth.
She wakens flower beds of beauty, sprouting from the ground,
She listens to the air to hear when birds, begin their sound.
Summer sees that warmth and beauty bring great love to all,
She gives new growth to trees, with leaves so green, now standing tall.
Her work, completed for the year, gives joy in bringing love,
She's tired, now, and starts for home, in sky, so far Above.
Dear Mother Nature soon awakens only Son, named, Fall,
Big Autumn Fall, so strong in duty, now hears Nature's Call.
She tells him that it's time to go, and do His work, for year,
Each time He enters Earth, for job, He always sheds a tear.
Fall, now brings in a cooler wind which does bring in a change,
Cool air, now changes atmosphere, as air affects its range.
He blows a special breath upon the trees, and change leaves hue,
From silky green to brown and red, and orange, yellow, too.
The flowers wilt, and grass stops growing — all seem old and strange,
For Autumn Fall has brought about a drastic, vivid change.
Each year He sees, realizes the importance of His job,
He brings the clearance for new life, and never should one sob.
'Tis Autumn Fall's own way of giving beauty, to be shared,
'Tis Autumn Fall's own way to show, how very much, he cared!

Son, Autumn's job, now done, prepares to leave for special Home,
This Home is far away, quite large, and has a special Dome.
The time has come for Mother Nature to awaken Dad,
Now, Dad is known as Old Man Winter, and He's feeling glad!
'Tis time, once more, to enter Earth, and bring His Winter joy,
For He loves happiness, which He provides for girl and boy.
He sees that fluffy snow, so white, does gently, fall to ground,
He brings the snow, which children love, in building structures, round.
Dear Old Man Winter moistens ground for growth of greenery,
The trees now sleep, while snow prepares for leafy scenery.
The snow and ice do cleanse the Earth, preparing for warm season,
For Old Man Winter loves the Earth, and does this for that reason.
He leaves the Earth, all moist, and ready for the coming Spring,
Each season has its way, each year, with love and joy — to bring!


by M. E. Hope
My heart lives in two places within my body
sometimes it is there caged with its sister lungs
other times it visits a spot by my right hip
wanting joint and movement, a bowl
to sleep near. Once it slid behind my spleen
thumping that enigma organ all-day
like a worried dog awaiting comfort.

Gray's Elegy

by Jim Hanson
The poet tells how not just to live
but how to die in return to the
natural soil and succession of life:
Sophocles, John Donne, Milton, Whitman
and who better can say than Thomas Gray?

Better to die in accord with the prosody 
of an eighteenth century graveyard poet:
no probates, wills or lawyers 
no scripted services or licensed mortuaries
no news obits or farewells on facebook or twitter
no American way of death denied.

His simple burial begets a simple poem 
in plain rhyme and iambic pentameter
painting a portrait of a country courtyard
as the day ends 
                        and a plowman leaves the field
a beetle takes his droning flight and
an owl mopes before the rising moon 
all in enveloping shadows of quiet simplicity. 

His vision shines on the idyllic countryside
then down to the graveyard, grave and death itself
as an expected occurrence of nature where
the deceased rests on the lap of earth, 
bereft of anxious passions and endless wishes
in quiet dignity 
	            before the modernist indignity 
of philosophies stating dasein never perishes 
and equivocating existential self with infinity
and of technologies of AI-simulated monstrosity
of the dead living through algorithms on silicone.

Then there was no doubt, what death was all about
as commonplace as life, no cause to speak of strife 
no drama of digital ending, only of spiritual bending
toward what was always there, not to mock or scare.

Grown-up Lullaby

by Karen Fullett-Christensen
Go to sleep, go to sleep,
let troubles fly far, far away
let angels soothe my worried mind
let bills to pay, rebellious kids,
home repairs, dirty dishes,
dusty shelves,
questions of life's deepest meaning
fade into the star-bright sky
or wherever problems go
when they cannot be quickly solved
Let something bigger than myself,
something wiser, something stronger,
with no beginning and no end
some higher truth that lends itself
to making purpose
from apprehension ever present
to making sense
of everything
beyond my puny comprehension
lead me to a place of rest

Butterfly Effect

by Barbara Funke
     Butterfly Garden Miami
I've read a single wingbeat
a hemisphere away
might fan a distant war
from factions' discontent,
the continents like dominoes.
A friend's well-crafted lines
blend butterflies and bicycle wheels,
to share her expectation's churn
toward birth.  Why
can't a single wingbeat
save the world? 
Great circle flown from snow
to tropic haven,
I feel the glass-roofed sanctuary
close its chrysalis around me.
Untraceable confusion of delight,
tiny stained-glass wings
flirt with my hair and eyelashes.
Elegant nine-inch spans at rest
pose, palettes serene.
Recalling metamorphoses
and world migrations
in this cheeky breeze
of a billion-trillion flutters,
scores of wingless aliens
like you and me
explore the garden—
calm eye in the daily storm.
We slow with gentled step,
thrilled to peace
that gauzy flits of butterfly
lift heavy souls,
convert the hungry worm
to flight.

Contronyms for a Winter Day

by Sheila Elliott
Leaves, leaving.  Those that remain peer
now through webs made hastily. But
these winter boughs are without peer, 
these trees are like reeds after iced
air prunes them, thin as pines and on
such days, we pine for what is gone,
barely noticing how snow cleaves
on nettles and branches, settles
like iced spades in crevices. Silk-
like, they seem like icy seams

against that sumac's base. All these
beautiful trees who, in their dark
days, hold fast while they fast from what
they need.  An apology for
full  boughs—no—but you admire 
their lack of apology, the
razor stark beauty of these trees
on this winter day, when a snow's
hesitant dusting is prelude
to where the dust-soft, grass will grow.

One Glance

by Alan Harris
From its western podium
the setting sun conducts
for half an hour
a symphony of colored sky:
loud oranges and penetrating purples
resolving into softer pinks and muted blues.

Under this musical sky,
noticing your smile and breeze-tossed hair,
I glance deep into the centuries
behind your clear eyes—
and I remember.

This moment was and is and will be.
It never was not, and never cannot be—
one precious moment of purest love,
breathless and deathless.

Inner spirit needs only one glance, no more—
no rush or embrace or kiss or promise.
One glance opens your soul to me,
and I know your soul and love your soul.

This musical sky is fleeting;
these bodies will grow old and cold;
but my memory of this one glance
will never fade, as must the sky.

Our symphonic sun's bright colors
have mellowed now to a somber gray
as we walk along
not knowing what to say.

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