Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
April, 2019
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Poems on this Page:

A scent

by Jenene Ravesloot

pressed between the pages of a book; just a scent. It could be the scent of a yellow flower that once was stuck upside down in a vase of water or the remains of a scent of a gold foil origami fish pressed between the pages of this book that now sits on a glass shelf, but let's just call it a scent, a scent pressed between the pages of a book; a scent that drowns in its own reflection, that reflects on its own drowning. It could have a name. It could be named. It could be. It could be the scent of salt when sunlight sleeps on it. It could be a kind of letting go that floods the senses. It could be. It could be. But, let's just call it a scent that is not unlike the scent of a closed room with one mirror backed in gold leaf and an inlaid round table with a carved skirt in the corner and a glass shelf with one book on it and a bed and a real bowl of lemons and count them, 14 steps in any direction. It could have a name. It could be named. It could.

(First published in After Hours Press, Winter 2019)

Conversation with My Mom

by Michael Escoubas
have a
gift for words.
I have faith that
you will discover,
the pure joy of writing
the best poem that you can
write, true and honest, a poem
that connects where people live their lives.
Be clear, be simple, let love win the day.
I regret you did not live long enough
to read or hear my latest poems.
I was only ten when you took
me to one side, but your words
caused me to write with joy,
and in love, to do
for others what
you, mother,
did for

(Previously published in the May 2018
issue of (Quill and Parchment)


by Bonnie Manion
Scattered boulders pepper
the raw land, granite hills are
abandoned shields, treeless 
and barren under a moldering
sky, great heaps sloping blindly 
down to the vacuous, uncaring 
sea a century after the emigration 
of an occupied nation.

Squinting into a pale setting sun,
I make out shapes of some lonely 
dwellings, half-standing ruins
yawning into the murky sky.
Falling away toward the shore,
a spate of broken stone walls
reveals open doorways, sightless
windows and bare dirt floors,  
each set apart from its neighbors
by a barely-there path.

Thatch long gone, no furnishings
in sight, the only signs of one-time
habitation are wrecked fireplaces
and the occasional rusted tool left
among the scattered boulders.

(Published in The Rockford Review)


by Tom Roby

Our club sneaks out on warm school nights, slips through spring weeds into the back yard of the corner haunted house, meets to break a window or two, rip off peeling wallpaper, and scrawl our names on bare walls—The Shadow, Batman, Captain Midnight. Phantoms flee when a crane's boom swings its hefty steel ball to sweep away our haunt like a cobweb, to vacate a construction site that's even better, like living inside a huge erector set—tab A slides into slot B; pipes thrust through floorboards; steps ascend staircases. After school the mortar mixer swings his shovel like a pendulum, scoops mortar from his mixer into a hod that he hauls to the bricklayers' trays. Trowels scrape and dish, flip a lip on each edge, set one brick on the other, and tap them with the handle for alignment and good luck. At quitting time we saunter around the block, come right back for house tag, play hide-and-seek in each new room, create model houses with scrap lumber, sign our names in fresh sand—Tonto, Speedy, Boy Wonder. We learn the ribs of this house, its guts. We become its brains, its spirit. On a dare, Beau Nokes lays a line of bricks, then tells some nosey cop in a deep voice from behind the wall, "It's okay, Officer, I'm showing the kids how it's done." No vandals, we fix things up for the workmen, smirk at their puzzled looks. No broken glass around our house. We meet in every room from basement to attic, carve our names on the top beams—Blackhawks, The Daily Planet, Justice League of America. Then, the workmen latch the last window, lock the back door. Dispossessed, we drift around corners with the fall leaves, come back to peer at the fireplace, where we had warmed ourselves like craftsmen, and remember the swing of the mortar mixer's shovel.

(Previously published in Shapeshifter, 2008)

Dichotomy of a Lobotomy

by Mark Hudson
1: Lobotomy in Limbo

My brain is as soft as a marshmallow,
I can't comprehend the likes of Othello;
My brain is as soft as a butter Salerno;
my stomach is a pit like Dante's Inferno.
My fingers are those of Edward's scissors,
I'm at a closed Dairy Queen, looking for Blizzards.
I'm Kurt Cobain, as a middle-aged man,
I'm a bald-headed immature Peter Pan.
I'm a musical without an intermission.
I'm Edward Snowden without suspicion.
I'm on the Internet, even in my sleep.
I'm reading a book that is making me weep.
It's Christmas, I'm buying a kid a bicycle,
I'm taking a photo of a Christmas tree icicle.
I'm back in spring, and it's starting to rain.
I'm protesting all the bullfighting in Spain.
I'm giving a print with bulls to Veronica.
I'm watching my sister's kids play harmonica.
In one ear and out the other,
The dust particles on a CD cover.

2: I'd rather have Aristotle in front of me,
than to have a bottle in front of me (or a lobotomy)

Reminiscing always leaves something missing,
there always seems to be some voices hissing.
"You did that? Isn't it embarrassing?"
Light my memories on fire with kerosene!
Ruben said he kept a journal back in the day,
his roommates found it, and opened, reading the say.
They laughed really hard, a whole bunch of Greeks,
they laughed at him, even though they too were geeks.
Sound like they were trying to act a little bit tougher,
if I was there, I would have noticed the bluffer.
I've been reading Greek authors, Socrates and Plato,
makes me want a bacon, lettuce, and tomato!
A Greek diner would serve this delicacy best,
I told this to George, "I'm Greek!" he confessed.
He wondered why I read Plato, a Greek writer,
another Greek person, but Plato can't get brighter.
Socrates said, "If you're thirsty, you're in pain,
but if you get water, you no longer complain.
When drinking water, you get some pleasure,
but only the rich people have any treasure.
The rich elite gather the many,
and the beggar is lucky to get a penny."
I must be lucky I haven't been evicted,
my drinking water would be restricted.
I wouldn't get to take a cup to the sink,
every time I wanted to have a drink.
But I suppose the water is worse in Flint,
if you don't believe me, I'll give you a hint.
There is lead in the pipes, which makes you think,
is there anywhere with perfect water to drink?
Someone might say get a filter for your faucet,
and if a hair gets caught in your sink just toss it.
Some say the water has birth control pills,
or lithium, or even oil spills.
The faucet becomes a mystery to you,
if the water is not clean, what will you do?
You could send a politician a letter in the mail,
but they should actually be sitting in jail.
But justice on Earth is like a faucet that's drippy,
the politician's free but they imprison the hippy.
The government wants us all to be corporate,
but the American dream is now disproportionate.
Minimum wage turns to maximum rage,
We're all restless birds stuck in the cage!
Spread your precious wings and fly,
eat drink and be merry—tomorrow we die.
And this could be the last second—or minute!
Is there a lottery? Can I still win it?


by Marilyn Peretti
rich earth
lies beneath our feet
still    quiet
seething with life
announcing its rich
plants and creatures
in silence

any day you have
wander into
deep woods
and listen

have you heard
the roots sing?
the rotting log
sigh in dying?
fungi shout
as they rise?

Without A TEST There Is No TESTIMONY

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Without a TEST there is no TESTimony
There's no getting around it you can't be phony.
You've got to live your life you can't be Memorex 
You've got to be Sony!
Lord, I know now that trials are a
TEST of our faith and wisdom,
Our will to do right is our internal
Emergency Broadcast System
Which serves as a moral compass
As we navigate through life's highs and lows,
And keeps us grounded so that we won't
Sway anyway the wind blows.
Because in these trying times
We all need to take stock
And take heed of subtle and
Imminent warnings,
So that we can all live peacefully
And have a better tomorrow and
brighter mornings and remember
That each situation that we face
is just merely a TEST.
Because just as you the Almighty
knows the configurations of every
leaf on a tree and the count of each
strand of hair on our heads,
Lord, you know our day of conception
And our day of eternal rest.
So people please remember as you go
Through your daily routines
That life is just primary proving ground
and experimental sod,
So always do your best...
and in case of emergencies
In the midst of it all we must
Remember to ALWAYS call
Upon GOD.
Without a TEST there is no TESTimony
Without a TEST there is no TESTimony 
There's no getting around it you can't be phony.
You've got to live your life you can't be Memorex you've got to be Sony!

Poetry Day Trip

by Lennart Lundh
I am waiting for Margaret Atwood
	to prepare me for life and love in transit

I am waiting for Carl Sandburg
	to take me on a tour of the city we love

I am waiting for Lawrence Ferlinghetti
	to welcome us to the great grand opening

I am waiting for Richard Brautigan
	to stop us and explain the economics of life

I am waiting for Robert Frost
	to help us chose a path when we get lost

and I am waiting for Emily Dickinson
	to share the lives and deaths of her day
	while rubbing my walked-out feet
	as I drift off into dreams worth waiting for

Seizing the Day

by Charlotte Digregorio
"Carpe Diem," they tell this simple bard. 
These words confound me to my troubled core.
Housekeep and cook until I'm ninety-four.
I chop the beans, mash peas, and slice the lard,
and can the fruits until my palms are hard.
I dust and mop, such tasks that I abhor.
Sometimes I ask my mom, "What is life for?"
Can't pause to dream or shed my lonely guard.
Can I find hope this new day of the year?
I yearn to write my verses by the sea, 
to hear the crickets sing from woods and fronds,
and lay beneath the moon to drink dark beer.
I'll learn to laugh once more to set me free
and find some special friends to form new bonds.

*Petrarchan Sonnet
abba, abba 
cde, cde

A Change in Life Form

by Rick Sadler
On a clear daydream I talked to Jesus
On Skype as we talked and to discuss,
I dreamed I was walking in a foreign jungle
"Dear Jesus I adore you forever my God
Say that you'll change my life form in a nod,"
Jesus replied, "Heaven is not always like
Earth in many ways in a different psyche,"
I hope that when I get to Heaven up there
That there will be the game of Baseball I care,
I can still write poems about a really nice lady
The Virgin Mary in a place so nice and shady,
To see family members that had departed
So change my life form to be light-hearted,
One day this sickness about home will thus end
Not to worry about my honor I won't defend,
I hope in Heaven I can still have my little
Vegetable garden to cook in a golden Kettle,
To build things like decorations out of wood
To present to the Queen Mary if I only could,
All Jesus replied was, "maybe"

A Pequod Sailor Speaks

by Wilda Morris
The Atlantic rolling onto the sandy shores
of Nantucket, piping plovers and screeching gulls,
oysters and crabs in the inlets,
rising sun painting pastel wrinkles
on ever-moving water—
this was nature as I loved it
in my boyhood.
Broken masts, bereft wives
and fatherless children
tell another story of the sea.
Still, I can't resist the challenge
to prove my manhood
and test my nature against
the earth's salty liquid overcoat.
At first it is easy.
We float through languid days
on indolent trade winds under skies
blue as Nantucket violets.
When I watch the sun set, coloring
the infinite spread of fluid ribbons,
I drift into meditative silence.
Sudden winds bellow, curdle foam.
Sword-sharp, they rip the sails, shriek
and break the mast. Lightning stabs
billowing water. The ocean I love bares its teeth,
opens its jaws, eager to swallow ship and crew.
The turncoat sea leaps over the bulwarks,
Judas, kissing the captain.

From Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick
by Wilda Morris (Aldrich, an imprint of Kelsay
Books, 2019)

Grappler's Gospel

by Scott Shaffer
(after Genesis 32:22-32)
It is night.
A self-made son 
who depends on his own deceit,
desperate for his father's love and blessing, 
desiring completeness and rest,
is by the Jabbok stream
without his large family and great possessions

Another Son 
who depends on His Father, 
knowing His love and pleasure, 
humbles himself
hangs up divinity
dons man's weakness 
and picks a fight 
with the self-reliant, restless son

Holy weakness
and human strength
lock arms
in wrestler's grip

They wrestle through the night  
The man-God
permits the deceiver's persistence to prevail
but must remove his self-dependence,
an idol leading him away 
from his heart's desires.  

The sun streams.
The self-weakened king 
cripples the pretender with a loving touch.
The dogged deceiver awakens
to the truth:
"God has weakened Himself
and me
so I can approach Him
who alone can meet my need."

This shrouded sovereign 
would one day 
again put aside deity 
and be crushed as an un-spared son
so others deceived 
could realize his love 
and be dressed in his righteousness. 

Poetry Partners

by Mike Talaga (and Doreen Van Lee)
We are Poetry Partners
Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
and I to the bitter end
We till words like Gardeners
We are partners and friends
Poetry is a commitment — not just a fad
In fact, it is a God given talent
For a couple of determined people
Our subjects include sorrow and
Laughter and people living happily ever after
We are poets through and through
Michael is a great orator and at
times I am (Doreen) is too.
Michael recites poems for retirement
Parties and birthday get togethers
Michael is a poet's poet he writes
Poems for any type of weather
My colleague Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Is also a poetic genius as you can see
She wrote a beautiful book entitled
"Raised in Da Sun"

I definitely recommend it to everyone.
We all know that great minds think alike
But now it is time to "sign-off"---Love
Doreen and Mike.

Sometimes I watch the movie
Cooley High in reverse 
Because to me the ending is the worst.

Degrees in Pilfered Humanity

by jacob erin-cilberto
i was somewhere in 1968
i heard the clicking of heels
down a long hallway of frustration
heard a TV announcing numbers
and birth dates
and rebates on service life
when the books would close
and the guns regarded
the rice patties awaiting
blood stained streams
dorms of brooding students
waiting to become soldiers
diplomas replaced by flags
waving in Vietnam marshes
cold feet walking in drug-induced states
dreaming of the States
in a flummoxed state of mind
arms shot off, legs abandoned
yellow submarines, land mines
orange crush, agents of shame
women and children, lives exchanged
for a soda
a seat on a chopper
the 70's split us apart
suddenly the explosions stopped
some came home to worse sounds
word grenades thrown at them with hatred
even as the war became past tense
i was somewhere in 1968
still living half a life
a map of Canada in my pocket
one eye only half in its socket
poked out by a bullet of sin
no one wins
and school doesn't matter
if real life lessons
won't teach us
to live together.


by Kathy Cotton
In one synchronized motion 
this suddenly taller child 
lifts her eyebrows
and shoulders,
drops them, turns away, 
leaving me to wonder:

Was there a moment
when my grandmother
set aside a bowl of flour
or the yellow-handled broom
to press her face hard 
into a cotton apron 
and choke back tears

because I answered her
in monosyllables,
shrugged off familiar pastimes,
grew up too soon.

(from Deluxe Box of Crayons)

Red Curtains

by Sherri Baker
My parents had six children.
I am the youngest, born 
twenty-one years after the first.
My mother would never call me 
a mistake, so she named me Sherri.

She decorated walls, carpet,
floors and furnishing in various
shades of avocado green.
On purpose. It took me years
to try guacamole.

I recall an avocado green kitchen,
a bowl filled with fake fruit 
on a painted buffet, and
for some reason, red kitchen
curtains on just one window.

I don't own anything in that green,
but I still love red curtains. My home
is full of that splash of red 
that mesmerized me as a child—
those special curtains 
that hung in a special place,
a little different from everything else, 
but not by mistake. 
Just like me, #6, aka Sherri.

Old City Neighborhood

by William Marr
they use heavy bars
to keep windows from jumping
onto neighboring skyscrapers
which grow taller everyday
that's why the sky and eyes
in this neighborhood
all become
so downcast

the day they took the trees

by Steven Kappes
beneath an unrelenting sun
the earth lies bare
broken tree roots, bits of brick
a paper cup from McDonalds
scattered through lumps
of black blasted dirt
heat rises in great waves
like an ocean
seeking to drown
unwary passersby
where only days ago
dark shadows promised
cool green shade
in bandanna and hard hat
sweating men
with leather gloved hands
gripping chainsaws
band saws
shove limbs into the maw
of a heavy chipper
spitting out from living flesh
dead mulch
blackbird and sparrow
circle, gliding, seeking
the green foliage
once their shelter
as evening shadows
foretell a time of rest
the trees all gone now
other refuge
must be sought


by David LaRue Alexander
I love you
It's true
But my love has a limit
There are things
I won't do
You need stay
Within it
I need my space
Don't cross that line
As long as you know
Your place
We will be fine
You see
I finally learned
Loving unconditionally     
Means you'll only get burned
I won't be
Taken for granted
Petty quarrels that get heated
Words that get slanted
Worrying if you've cheated
I just can't
I want that all gone
I need someone
I can rely on
It's like everything
I've dreaded
Could be headed
My way
So, if you want me to stay
Don't cross.... that line


by Jennifer Thiermann
the cows that fit
under one tree

I wish I'd been there

by Idella Pearl Edwards
I wish I'd been there when our Awesome God
Created the foundations of the earth.
I wish I had watched with my very own eyes
As He gave each creature its birth.

But most of all I wish I had heard
The thunderous applause from above,
When all the heavens exploded with joy,
In response to God's gift of love.

How many billions of stars exist?
How do they sound when they sing?
I can only imagine what my ears might have heard
As they lifted their praise to the King.

When all of the angels shouted for joy.
Oh, what a shout that would be!
Just how many voices thundered approval
As God created the sea?

Stop and consider the wonders of God!
Can you hear each angelic voice?
Can your heart hear the music of billions of stars? the heavens rejoice!


by Arthur Voellinger
Throw crumbs
on a deck,
and it's a
safe bet
That squirrels
will arrive
to snatch
and chew
without a
thank you


by Gail Denham
If I were
he and had such wealth,
I would go shopping, buy a yacht.

One that sailed 
with chefs, 6 crew members,
plus a hot tub and showers top deck,

it's warm, no congressmen,
or accusations of collusion.

Lady Primavera

by Goldie Ann Farkonas
Sweet Lady - Primavera - Maiden of Spring - your season - once again - has come and brought - great beauty,
Your presence - touch - has brought about the song of birds, and warmth of air - the flowers, which do bring - such glee.
You've touched the bare and sleeping trees - awakened them - to bring their gift - the beautiful and shady, green and lovely leaves,
Your presence - calls, invites the birds - to come and make their  home - within the branches - making all - at ease.
Enriching gardens - do come forth - to lands - for fruitful, healthy growth - of needed and delicious - food,
The Earth does sing to celebrate your coming - each and every year, and bringing with you - sunshine mood.
Sweet Lady, Primavera - Maiden of the Spring - your season welcomes you - all - rebirth of life - by you,
No other season of the four - can do the magic of - rebirth - new life - on Earth - tis beauty - true.
Kind Lady, Primavera - Maiden of the Spring - your presence - each and every year - brings forth - much love,
Your gifts are those - brought on to Earth - have been bestowed - in trust - to you - from Heaven - High - from God - Above.

Dream a Little Dream

by Barbara Eaton
for Mama Cass Elliott
They say I am going to die soon...
I would prefer not to...
Whose fault is it?
Nobody....I myself.

Ignorance....Ignorance is the only enemy.
Please fight ignorance in my name....
The female Sisyphus....

When life hands you lemons
make lemonade
and remember me....

Fresh-squeezed lemons....
Homemade, handmade lemonade.
Nothing sweeter, nothing finer
in the backyard
in the summertime.

Drink lemonade and think of me....
Drink lemonade, write poems, 
and "Dream a little dream of me...."

The lemonade business
helps with the poetry business....

Goutons boire.

Life-Sustaining Water

by Frank Hubeny
The water's calm but storms approach.
Their clouds will soon be high.
With future fresh and past well-spent
The birds play with the sky.

When We Were Young

by Marie Samuel
Those days of old gone by
We meet and talk & share 
Our roles and memories 
Recall the times we dared
From days and moments
Had that stopped us cold
Not bold-but scared to venture 
Forth, the World our oyster not
So much, so fools we roamed 
And sailed our ships to far 
Off shores to seek our places
And do our thing, Til life would 
Become stepping stones to run
Across and feel the wind blow
Pushing on and finding nests
To feel our best and do less harm
Those goals would help find our norm. 

Up They Grew

by James Tosh

My kids are all grown now -
up they grew.
My sweet little darlings -
hello and adieux.

Just the other day
was Gerber's and diapers.
Snappers and ti-ers
and cleaners and wipers.

Then there was daycare
and seeing your cousins.
And chasing the dog
and friends by the dozens.

Birthdays and holidays
and going to church.
Play catch and go swimming
and Easter eggs to search.

Then gymnastics and dance
and soccer and b-ball.
Activities galore
from winter to fall.

Then working part-time
spending money to make.
Doing more on their own
more trips they must take.

It's then off to school
studying hard and long.
The degree they do seek -
knowing right instead of wrong.

And I'm proud to say
they're both doing well.
I still see them as kids
Do you? Can you tell?

That must be what happens
when fond memories appear.
For the ones that you love -
sons and daughters so dear.

Whatever the future may bring
or the past that we've had.
For me I can say
it's good to be Dad!

My Father, My North Star

by Joseph J. Solberg
Before life's first hour passed,
My North Star shone 
On dazzled, searching eyes
In the birth room at St. Anne's.
His was a calm, commanding, and
At times a prodding presence,
Always pointing toward
Sustained effort and sacrifice,
Day after day after day.

It refused to waver
When Venus dimmed my view
And the rings of Saturn spun 
In vaporous, dizzying circles.
Once it seemed hidden, its steady glow
Briefly blocked by ephemeral beings
But when life's harsh breeze cleared the sky, 
It shined brightest...resolute
In its prominent place in my galaxy.

It is a dying star now, 
Flickering and fading, 
At times not remembering
Whose path it lit, yet
Still it sparkles, and

Like all stars in the heavens,
It will light the way
Long after it's gone.

Come to Me in April

by Melissa Huff
Wrap me in the first strong
supple leaves of spring—
let their yellow-green
infuse me.

Sing to me those songs
embedded in the breeze—
rock me to the rhythm
of their breath.

Feed me eager buds
before they open—
newness plucked with ease
from fertile earth.

Fill my lungs
with younger air—
a sweetness seeping out
of winter's fringe.

Watch me run
through rain-soaked streams
rinsing out debris
from seasons left behind.

Walk with me
along the furrowed edge
of fields in which
tomorrow grows.

Sit with me
and let us gather
sips of sunlight—
gold upon our lips.

(Originally published
in March, 2019 at

Dance to the Butterfly Dance

by Emma Alexandra Kowalenko
Ready, go, move, to the butterfly,
dance that is. Hip, hop, flap your wings.
Can you do it? Sure you can. Fly.

With a heron's cadence, touch sky.
Feel them. Dance them. Parade your swings
Ready, go, move, to the butterfly.

Each season's beauty, our reason why,
we celebrate the joy that dance brings.
Can you do it? Sure you can. Fly.

Slide, glide, tango, mambo, beautify.
Breathe in each morning when the lark sings. 
Ready, go, move, to the butterfly.

When you lose yourself, you can rely,
on delight reserved for queens and kings.
Can you do it? Sure you can. Fly.

Light the magic of a firefly.
Play your own melody on your strings.
Ready, go, move, to the butterfly.
Can you do it? Sure you can. Fly.

Election Year

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
begins as it always does,
like a mosquito, its tiny buzz
assaulting the ear, the agility 
of acrobatic tongues:

words broken and glued back together,
words scooped empty, hollow
and ringing, words cracked open
and drained of their juice.

Breezes brewed of shattered sounds
melt sun into gold that slips
into pockets, melt hatred 
into sweet dark wine.

Reason peels like birch bark,
sifts to the wind, as voices
of the lost and seeking hiss
and steam through spirals of mist.


by Rafael Lantigua Medina
(Feel the music where it should be)
I like the unhinged keys 
of a piano played at holy places.
Each note becomes you
and darts like an arrow (zipping) in the wind
to strike its target

Be solemn.
Let the storm drive you 
and invite others to receive the tempo:
To break it:
            the motion
                            where it should be. 
Yes, deeper...Deeper—

If a melody is to be borne, to say it right, 
It'll be the full optimism
of a fable encompassed in the unseen 
and natural cadence of unexpected tones.

It will go places, time after time, 
reigning between
or failing —name it, life.
Precisely that.

So —Please-- feel rebellious, 
daring and brave.
be alive and move forward,
never back...
Dance how it should be
and feel it where it should be, too.


by Jill Angel Langlois
Once, when I was young,
or maybe twice,
I waved across the river
to no one there.
I sang across the river
a song no one could hear.
I lay in the cool grass
and spoke a name into the river,
hoping to see your face,
but I saw my reflection.
My blue eyes looking back,
I had to smile.
The face was sad, young.
It wasn't real.
At least I don't think it was.
I drew your name in the sand,
and the river washed it away.

How To Write a Poem

by Carol Schott Martino
Go to the river and search for a rock
lodged in the slippery muck along the bank.
Pry it loose like a forgotten memory
and listen to its story.
Does its smooth surface call up
an easy verse - perhaps your mother singing
as she brushes your ginger-brown hair,
bringing out the glimmer
before the bus comes?
Or, maybe you won't find the muse
until you turn the rock over
and see the gaping wound
that's ready to swallow you whole.
Now, pick up your pen
and let it find the truth in a poem.

Hidden Treasure

by Cassandra McGovern
Gray cement cracks fan out 
from underneath cardboard 
boxes that sit like theatre 
seats in my basement.
Slitting open taped containers 
of mom's mementos 
I've sheltered for ten years, 

I rediscover faded antique 
Christmas ornaments in fruit 
shapes of snow flake delicacy,

an autobiography of Betty White In Person
I gave her on her 70th birthday for their 
endearing similar naivety and sweetness,

scrapbook pages of her grandson's 
law school graduation we assembled
together, both recovering from cancer,
a yellowed Chicago Tribune front 
page of John Glenn's 1962 earth 
orbit she saved for me,

a potato ricer she used at holiday 
gatherings, long after electric 
mixers would have been easier,

slides of a 1965 Italy trip that encouraged 
her to take Italian lessons because she 
liked the Italian name, Agnesi, "better than 
Agnes the washerwoman," she'd say.

(Five Poets Write about Aging, Illness,
and Mortality, Pennywise Press, 2011)

Fine Tip

by Debbie Neal Crawford
You rest upon journals
of thoughts, dreams,
and poetry. 
Your black, slick body
longs for the embrace 
of warm flesh. 
You wait with anticipation 
for the consummation
because one day
your fine tip
may change the world.

America the Beautiful Revisited

by Alan Harris
America, while breathing gaseous skies,
Converts her amber waves of grain to gold.
She logs her mountains' purple majesty
And risks her fruited plains in futures sold.

How could the selfless pilgrims have foreseen
The fiscal dust their sturdy feet would raise?
When did their quest for freedom of belief
Become obsessed with how much interest pays?

The early heroes' hearts were filled with fire,
Replaced of late by nuclear doomsday fear.
When greed fails in these days to get its way,
Then hired generals flatten all that's dear.

Those patriot dreamers failed to forecast years
Of lotteries and bets on football games,
Nor could they know what poverty and fears
Would lurk in cities bearing brave men's names.

America! My poor America!
Thy crown of brotherhood is hard to see.
Thy god is Gold; thy goodness yields to law,
And lawyers fight from fee to shining fee.

(From Sparks from the Flame)

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