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Poems by ISPS Members
April 2010
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Poems on this Page:

January Thaw

by Paul Wolf
The trees stand naked
each small twig exposed.
The woods are open 
for all to see, an x-ray
of its bones.

There are deer running,
jumping over logs; a sight one
never sees when the trees
are clothed.

January thaw clears the snow
leaving the ground open 
with its dead wood and vines,
imperfections one might see
that clothing covers over.

There is beauty in its bareness
with all its scars, trees fallen by wind 
or split with lightning bolts, hollowed 
by the rot of time; homes 
for small animals who burrow there.

Enjoy it for it doesn't last.
Winter brings a cover of snow again
and Spring brings the clothing back
covering up that beauty of yearly wear.

March Madness

by Mark Hudson

Today, I talked to a friend who battles voices
Who published a story about a three-headed dog.
Then I got on the train to go to Linden.
Heard college girls talk about living in
Haunted houses, where doors slammed
Shut and there were hand prints on the ceiling.
Waited at Linden for my friend to pick me up,
And a disgruntled man screamed at his wife
On the cell phone, "WHERE ARE YOU?"
So loud a shiver went down my spine.
Went to Highland Park for more madness,
And got back on the train at Linden at 12:30 A.M.
On the Purple Line to South Boulevard
A man said, "Well, now that you're all here,
I'll tell you about my vision.
I had a vision about two ghouls,
Who were by a river, by two trees.
In front of them, were a row of
Circular blades, chainsaws criss-crossing..."
But then, I had to get off the train.
What a crazy place is where I live!
If New York or L.A. is three times as crazy,
I'm ready for Wichita, Kansas, or Des Moines, Iowa.
Or somewhere! [Just kidding!]
But what would I write about? Cows?

March Madness Part Two; Sightings of the Storyteller


In a previous poem, March Madness
(Written in March, of course,)
I told the true story of a man on
The el train who was speaking out
Loud to the train, telling stories of
His visions of Armageddon and a
Bunch of ghouls with circular saws.
Well, today, Bastille day, I encountered
The man again on the train. He was
Telling the exact same story, word for word!
He even proclaimed that he could
Tell his story in Aramaic or Norwegian,
Although I'm not sure I believe
He's multilingual. A girl smiled
At me as if to silently laugh
At this man's bizarre tale that he
Insists on announcing to the whole train.
However, maybe I'm too insensitive.
Mental illness is a big problem in this town.
And maybe I'm not judging his story to be credible.
How do I know that before I die,  I won't
Encounter the ghouls, too? Reality
Is too harsh without fearing the dark side, too.
I will remain in the light.

this train

by Donna Pucciani
collects people and suitcases
not freight
gathers bravery of parting lips 
the cargo of courage
returning for a funeral or
becoming ark 
to save us from intimacy

smoke trails like an old dog
wisconsin central
blind prayer fumes
the ashram of air
the engine a living mantra
breathes over and over
union pacific
even tickets tire of waiting

board this train
lose yourself
in the distant near whistle
that can't remember where
ghosts sit beside you
iron on iron wheels jolt past
railyards smokestacks
coal broken factories
trestles at dawn
awaken rivers 
remnants of moon
prism the stars

sun or snow
this train
stops in every village
still as bone
for life's
not the express but the local
prairie towns
red bluffs
sweet skyscrapers
five hundred miles
old traveller
don't look back
sleep tonight
in your own bed

(First published in EDGZ)


by William Vollrath
Cosmic energy
Light from within
Lifeblood of mortals
Mankind's blessed wind
Strength for our dharma
Gifted from far
Enabling each moment
Lighting aura's bright star
Life's sacred vigor
Each day's needed fuel
Eventually burns out
Rebirth now will rule

What I Believe

by Bonnie Manion
I believe that always
there will be helping hands;
that it's possible to be a gentle man.
I believe mothers forever
will sacrifice; to save a child,
willingly pay any price.
I believe youth confidently
trust hope, want to press on
toward future happiness.
I believe life is a journey
along paths, across events, where past
leads to future through present sense.
I believe in God, in goodness, in me;
in the importance of the moment
and the reality of eternity.

(First published in Lutheran Digest,
also in The Shepherd)

Real Magic

by David La Rue Alexander
Unlike a magician,
real magic I weave.
It's not a trick,		
nothing up my sleeve.

No abracadabra,
no sleight of hand.
No vaudeville act,
or stunt preplanned.

No mumbo jumbo,
no hocus pocus. 		
No smoke and mirrors,
to make eyes lose focus.	

No prestidigitation,
no attempt to deceive.
No optical illusion,
or make believe.

Real magic exists,
it's not hard to find.
Just close your eyes,
and open your mind.

She's Getting Tired

by John Trusty
Her boundless energy's starting to wane,
wear and tear of life affecting her frame.
Though children are grown, it's just us two,
their worries still hers, it's a mother's view.
Days start early, more often end late.
Doing for others foremost, care of self will wait.
Facing a reality downside slopes can be greasier.
Often commenting, "In age, isn't life supposed to get easier?"
Redoubling my efforts to help, using words full of praise.
Hoping something I've said, deflated spirits might raise.
Selflessly telling me, there's more I must do,
"take better care of yourself; I couldn't live without you"


by Patricia Gangas
Dark beauties, you were born
of Adam's clay, Abraham's muscular soul,
free then, with shining ivory teeth,
flashing dark eyes, strong as a thousand tigers.
I've heard your ancient songs,
soft, languorous, coming from the mouth of the winds-- 
yet, complexion and color have changed
through the crumpled tunics of time.
Your stolen lives wear tattered threads
for the hundred evils heaped upon you; 
banjos and cymbals will never drown out
the bamboo misery of weeping
under an indifferent white moon.

My heart leans towards you
like the first tulip in this new season of sun.
I could write a lovelorn letter to heaven,
but it takes one thousand years to become a saint---
O, forget the silent heavens
I would help you dig out the sharp points of hatred.

Come into my garden
let your roots and mine entwine
to feel the warm hands of summer:
I feel at home with your beauty amid the buds of lily blossoms,
baskets of  coral flowers,
yet, I will be that madwoman beating thunderous, crashing Djembes,
wailing and hollering--------
all this crescendic noise in your names.
I am only a poet, writing poems that hide in piles of clouds,
still as I write I know,
your misery runs deeper than words.


by Jason Sturner
Everyone is dead.
Slumped against steering wheels,
on the floors of kitchens and bedrooms,
face down in swimming pools.
Bodies litter the malls,
the halls of prestigious universities,
they're in hospitals and sports bars,
at desks in corporate offices.
In the center of the oval office
lies the body of our president,
maggots crawl out
from beneath her eyelids.
The rats beneath the streets
lift their heads and twitch their noses.
Vultures fly off trees
into waves of decay.
Remnants of humanity crumble,
are buried, eroded and grown over.
We are dust and fossils; we are history.
The planet is lush and productive.
Out in an unnamed ocean
a new breed of dolphin is born,
its flippers more like modified claws.
One day, it will use them to grasp the shoreline.
(From his chapbook Selected Poems 2004-2007)

The House That Was Ain't No Mo'

by Chris Holaves
...weep with those who weep.

                              Rom 12:16
The house that was 
      Ain't here no mo'—
Levee water
      Swept it down
To the ground flo'
After the storm
      Ripped it apart.

The city that was 
     Ain't no mo'—
It's buried in water
     All around
Forty feet deep 
     In muddy ground
With my soul n' heart.

Family's gone,
      Ain't here no mo'—
Granpa, Granny,
      Sister, brother—
All are floatin'
     In bad water
And me and Mama
     Feel the pain
Blowin' in hard
     With salty rain 
By this she-devil

All that was 
      Is buried now
Under water,
      Even our cow,
Even the cat,
      Even the dog,
Even the back alley rat.
      Not much matters now.
All them gone. Nothin' left.

It ain't no mo'.
It ain't no mo'.
      Our life, our dreams,
Our loved ones gone—
      Drowned in water
To the bare bone.
      All gone, all done.
We less than po'.
We ain't no mo'.

(First published in The Greek Star)

We Are Not Alone

by John E. Slota
I climbed into the Belly of A Great Oak Tree and cried "My Lord in Heaven what's gone wrong with me!?" A huge bolt of lightnin' split that tree in two and standin' there was God who knew just what to do. He said, "Son, you've been down a road many often travel and it's time you paused a while just to let yourself unravel. Take some time to smell the flowers, hear the birds, There Ain't No Fee!" Like a Judge with His gavel He done set me free! Then He pieced that Oak together, left me on my knees. Over yon' a flash of lightnin'...Thousand One, Two, Three. Did I hear a clap of thunder or another fallen tree? Did I hear a clap of thunder or another fallen tree?

Arbitration: Body v. Soul

by Jim Valencia
What is the distance in time
to conclude that you're
different from me?

And regardless of how you behave
	will you always (because of a quirk)
be related to me?

How do you compensate
for the hours drained away
while you discover I'm gone?

	Precisely what break
In the frame of my day
	Told you I'm dead?

What maximum law applies
deeply enough to suggest
that you're really alive?

Where do we go
To clarify things and determine
Which of us lives and who's dead?

The Transition

by Farouk Masud
A little kid, confused and spoiled,
Trapped between life and what not.
In the beginning:  loved, smart, happy.
Later:  hated, dumb, bitter.
What will become of me?
I ask for all eternity:  "Must I fear?"
I ask for all eternity:  "Is the end drawing near?"
I came into this cruel world as a someone—
Will I leave as a no one?
A young man searching for reality—
Is this a dream or destiny?
If I am dreaming, please wake me.
If not, show me to my fate.
What is becoming of me?
I ask for all eternity:  "Must I go on?"
I ask for all eternity:  "Will I go on?"
I came into this cruel world as a winner—
Must I leave a loser?
An old man torn between Heaven and Hell.
No one to turn to, all is not well.
Am I mortal, depressed and down?
Am I immortal or the Devil's clown?
What has become of me?
I ask for all eternity:  "Will I die?"
I ask for all eternity:  "Why?"
I came into this cruel world as the good and innocent.
In the end,
Banished for all eternity as the guilty and malevolent.
(Originally titled All Eternity, this is the first
poem I ever wrote.  Written in 1989, at age 14.)

The Given

by David McKenna
Two thousand years ago 
a boy walked among us
with so much light in His eyes 
that every thing He looked upon
became more colorful.

Everyone He touched
felt suddenly more alive
joyous and lighthearted.

The very air
that surrounded this child
had a music within it 
that could be heard by anyone
who listened for it.

The sound of His voice brought peace to your heart.

His presence
had a quiet way 
of filling you with contentment
like cold water when you are thirsty.

When he left the room 
to go out and play in the sunshine	
in the dust
with all the other laughing children
for some unknown reason 
a taint of sorrow
would fall within the shadows 
that He left behind.

Everyone who ever met this boy 
remembered Him
all the days of their lives.

And still today
everyone who reaches out for His Glory
is granted an audience on earth 
as it is in Heaven.

May you meet Him today in the light of your heart.

Indiana Girl

by Rick Sadler
So  many  Moons  ago  I  was  possessed  by  a  young  girl
Not  a  day  goes  by  I  don't  think  of  this  adopted  Pearl,
We  had  so  many  things  in  common  like  Peas  in  a   Pod
She  carried  no  feelings  for  me  only  in  a  friendly  nod,
Her  long  black  Hair  that  matched  her  Glasses  Frames
Encased  her  lovely  brown  Eyes  reflecting  my  new  aims,
Wearing  a  white  Blouse  that  bowed  in  the  back  there
Adorning  Blue  Jeans  which  caught  and  held  my  stare,
As  the  High  School  years  went  by  we  became  Pen  Pals
And  gave  me  all  the  strength  I  needed  for  all  my  Morals,
I  would  sure  get  excited  when  ever  we  would  go  to  visit
Each  other  between  so  many  miles  was  to  me  so  exquisite,
Some  times  I  would  fantasize  that  we  would  get  married
As  I  would  keep  her  Picture  close  to  me  that  I  carried,
Now  I  wonder  how  she  is  doing  and  I  hope  she  is  fine
Because  I'll  always  love  her  and  I  will  send  the  Sun  shine,
We  had  many  moments  of  company  that  she  did  enjoy
I  just  wanted  to  make  her  happy  as  a   young  teenage  boy,
She's  married  now  and  has  her  own  family  over  the  years
I  can  not   see   her  any  more  which  brings  about  my  tears,
Victory  inspired  my  Catholic  Faith  like  no  one  ever  before
She  is  always  with  me  every  day  like  a  lovely  lake  shore,
We  parted  as  friends  with  our  arms  around  each  other  then
I  will  never  see  Victory  unless  we  meet  in  another  life  again,
Perhaps  some  day  if  she's  surfing  through  the   e-mail  pages
She  may  find  this  love  poem  I  wrote  for  her  in  my  senior  ages,

Dedicated  To:
Victory  Lynn  Stader

Living in No Place

by Bakul Banerjee
If I don't speak, you won't know
where I am from, or maybe no place.
Hidden away in proper garbs,
I may be from Ulan Bator or Varanashi.

When I take the short walk from 
my office to the car, cloaked
in layers, scarved and capped 
I may be from a frigid place,
not necessarily Midwest, USA. 

When I roam the streets of Lhasa,
with cameras stowed away,
I am a Tibetan from a previous
incarnation hiding behind Buddha. 

Don't get me wrong. There is a place
called my home with a street address, 
but I prefer to live in no place, 
maybe just inside a post office box.


by Kathleen Murphy
Softly, sadly moonlight streams
On a dark, dark woods of dreams
To subtly show
A flickering glow
Like candles held by ghosts that come and go.
Near the woods a wrought-iron gate
And a graveyard meditate
On their parts in mankind's fate.
The night grows cold and numb,
The hours count their weary sum,
I wait and wait and still you never come.


by John Pawlik
The snows go
The way of another year—
Dripping— from wooden eaves

Waiting for Spring

by Robert Coté
How spring should try to break the rule
The day is warm, no it shall be cool
So each day sets to lift the sun
higher higher till it is done
till the returning cold handed night
drapes over the sun and takes the light
and return again in deep degree
cold and dark and so frost we'll see
in mornings there upon the lawn
in the shade where sun's not shown
white and felted with a frozen dew
not today will spring break through

Makeshift Memorials

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Your young life was snuffed out by a neighborhood vandal
Loved ones left behind to prepare and handle
Funeral arrangements
Because of some deranged mentality
As hip hoppers pour liquor out for the brothers who ain't here
They rarely toast to the good accomplishments of their living peers
Grandma's, sisters, aunts and mothers are left behind to steer
Babies in the right direction after a preacher reads 
Final remarks and reflections
In the interim as a symbolic gesture  loved ones
Leave makeshift memorials
Which serve as death tutorials
Black faces tattooed across trees
Neighborhoods tattered with ease...
Balloons and bottles are offered as symbols
As they line summer sidewalks
Passersby stop and gawk
Some folks sigh and some chalk
It up to a ne'er do well's number finally  coming up
But no one really has the right to judge another man's cup
Because we all have a date with the grim reaper
So please don't judge just pray to the Keeper
When you see the makeshift memorials 
Which serve as death tutorials
Lining the summer sidewalks...

At the Pavilion Where Li Po Laid Down His Pen

by William Marr
     Li Po, who was seldom seen sober in public, once mounted the pavilion
     on the shore of Yellow River in Wuhan, China.  As he was about to write
     a poem on the wall for the occasion, he saw a poem written by Cui Hao, a
     contemporary poet.  He was so intimidated by the superb poem,
     it's said, that he laid down his pen with a sigh.

I don't believe he laid down his pen
just to show his humility
there must be more
sober reasons
like, leaving space
for some ambitious future poets
to scribble on

Daylight Savings

by Susan T. Moss
Things look different
in August light

through forest green
canopies soon distilled
to red, orange and gold,

absent cricket trills
and rocking chair reveries

melting into late dark heat,
while rain pings
on leaky gutters

far from uncertain nights,
when winter's brittle silence

converges with the history
of our lives.

A Springtime Morning

by Cathy Lou Pearson
The yard seems cleaner After the early morning shower. I open my bedroom window To greet the sweet fragrance Of the lush lavender lilacs. Oh-so-familiar the scent Floats in through the screen. The defiant yellow dandelions Are sprinkled amongst the fairway-like Green of the lawn in nice contrast. The morning coffee seems more robust than normal And I like it. Lily of the Valley line each side of the driveway As I walk a few steps and breathe deeply. The white bell blossoms Bob up and down From the soft morning breeze As if to offer a good morning greeting. I nod back as if to acknowledge and agree. The four blue robin's eggs Have hatched into chatty chicks, Eager for their mother to return with breakfast. I return to my cup of coffee And pause momentarily, A warm smile adorns my face. My spirit soars. Spring has once again returned to Downers Grove, And all is well. I think I'll have a second cup of coffee.

Great Stuff

by Mary Ann Eiler
I thought I was done.
The last metric in my blood
At rest. But then -
I went for a walk
And bought books of poems
Fairer than my own.
Night flirted with the trees
As I walked home in reverie
Reflecting on the Muse's sly descent.
Distance is a thin complexity 
Without writing, you keep in touch.

At my desk again,
Words like snow obeyed their destiny
Until I came upon the lost little syllable "us."
Such linguistic economy
Defied my prolificacy.
Neither Keats nor Yeats
Nor Dickinson could help.
But then I thought of you
And what you'd say
And wrote "Great Stuff."


by John Quinn
God sees souls
man sees skin
moms see both

Searching for Road Signs

by Glenna Holloway
So where are my feet going, Lord?
And what are my steps heading toward?

It's not enough to just believe:
I know I somehow have to weave
You in the pattern of my life,
This thingful journey always rife
With breakdowns, backtalk, sidetracks, more,
And vendors hawking at my door.
There's good and bad and yes and no
So deftly mixed the lines don't show.
It's not so hard to find Your way
Through white or black-- but oh, the gray!

Uncertainties mark east and west;
My wrong turn missed the right fork blessed
With footprints that have gone ahead
To mark a trail through swamping dread.

So guide me, Lord, my sense is blurred,
Distracted by each doubt incurred.
Please set me straight and let me see
Your dusty sandals leading me.

Where Is Eternity?

by Michelle L. W. Utendahl

Where Is Eternity

Winter hues

by Dr. Sarada Purna Sonty
Immaculate by our Creator deemed,
I caught hold of 
tail time wiggled!
made loud calls
so can be heard!

      Searched and held
      deep breath beneath
      "return with light 
      wait not dearest"
      With bits of moon
      and dust of stars
      causing meteors
      holes and dents! 

Orange memories
hay to the edges 
swirling around
and round with glee
pieces of mighty sky
showering on the patio
I raked galaxies 
Piled in heaps
Feeding fleeting
feelings of content.

      Thoughts with joy
      Breathing hue
      ignoring those 
      judging idiots few 
      assumed colours,curves
      of black and white
      sounds and silence
      humming flights
      mystic shades of 
      late evening bright

I called in for Tea
The poets unknown
Artists walked in 
with 'Tea tray paintings'
joined uneasy knees 
cracking, at the gates
mom land editors
found no entry!

      Yes and wows 
      And nodding nays
      Left pouting doors!
      Simmering winds
      Brought back smiling Sun!

April of the Spirit

by Alan Harris
In this April Sunday
there is pure spirit
scenting all the air
like a sweet candle.

Spirit runs through me
like light through a prism
and splashes all my glands
with a rainbow of loving.

Spending spirit is a joy
and a joke, for no end
is there to it--
as well spend the sea.

When my brain tunes into
spirit's primordial hum,
there are no surroundings
but the starlit cosmos.

I sing into the center of being
whose bud bursts open
and flowers into a fragrant chant
for April eyes and ears.

Amen says all, sings all
that ever will be sung--
begins and sustains and ends
our euphonious zodiac.

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