Illinois State Poetry Society
Poems by ISPS Members
June, 2019
Home Page

ISPS Member Poems

ISPS Haiga Gallery

Poem Index by Poet

Poem Index by Title

ISPS Poet Bios

ISPS Member Books

ISPS Book Reviews

Poetry Competitions

Submitting Poems

About ISPS

To Join ISPS

Other Sites

More ISPS Poems | Haiga Gallery

Poems on this Page:


by Jenene Ravesloot

A jazz riff, in paint, that evokes the spirit of Max Roach, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong; disruptions; scattered inchoate images; brash brushwork; scribbled and troubled text; a stayed explosion of mark making and collage; but, how to rest the mind and where to start, since all three paintings are joined together to form an odd triptych, a harried religious artifact with no Virgin Mary. Perhaps I'll begin with these two mostly turquoise ones which are as opaque and brilliant as gemstones; with the left one first, its cryptic words, this ominous jaundiced third eye that references Max Roach's "The Third Eye" drum solo, and passages of white paint, before I move on to the middle one where the name "Ishtar" appears three times like an oracle's incantation. An image of a black man's luminesce face, seen in profile, could be a portrait of a Nubian slave, or a dark crescent moon. The last painting is the color of white chalk or salt, a flat of white that burns the eyes. It reminds me of the salt trade slaves of the Atlantic. Here, the name "Ishtar," the goddess of love and war, is evoked twice more. A black shape, the words "Dynasties X1-X11," "Alter Ego," random images and partially erased words cascade down it: three paintings, wild-hinged together, these three bones of painterly divination. And, then I remember. He said "I wanted to be a star, not a gallery mascot."

Ishtar: triptych by Jean-Michel Basquiat (USA) 1983

Summer Haircuts

by Michael Escoubas
There wasn't much money
for small things in the 1950s.
Dad's welding and repair business
paid the bills, but that's about all.
Come the end of May along
about Memorial Day, my brothers
and I were long overdue. Unshorn,
our curls fell gently on our collars,
like a Breck Hair Spray commercial.
All the girls looked on us with envy.
They would have killed to get our curls.
Our buddies, the lucky ones, already
had their summer cuts—
the West Point look that featured
a burr in back with a small shock
of curl smack in the middle-forehead.
Each West Point cost a quarter,
a lot of money back then—
how refreshing the scented talc felt
when old Gabe soft-brushed our necks,
how clean and cool and new we felt
when May breezes kissed our naked heads.

(Previously published in the May 2019
issue of Quill and Parchment)


by Mark Hudson
What could one say about the artist Cezanne?
Maybe that he created many foundations.
A whole revolution is what he began,
he was able to inspire future generations.
He was born to a mother named Anne,
and lots of things gave him inspiration.
In 1870, Cezanne had to go to L' Estaque,
accompanied by his mistress, ditching his wife.
In the Dark period, Cezanne used a lot of black,
and Cezanne often used the palette knife.
One day Cezanne collapsed in a pneumonia attack,
and that was what ended Cezanne's life.
Regardless of what was in Cezanne's heart,
he really produced some beautiful art.

Fly Like an Eagle

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Dedicated to the Jesse White Tumblers
Every time that I hear the lyrics to 'Fly Like An Eagle', 'Time keeps on
	slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future,"
I feel elated because you see I was in Seward Park Gym in the late 70's, one
	afternoon as the Jesse White Tumbling Team marched in and the song became a suture.
The image stayed with me, you know, and became deeply ingrained just like a staple or a stitch.
Young brown bodies soaring gracefully into the air one by one then tucking and
	rolling without a glitch.
The crowd was transfixed as the Jesse White Tumblers transported and
	transcended space and time,
As they simultaneously embedded themselves into the stratosphere while
	The Steve Miller Band melodically rhymed:
"I want to fly like an eagle to the sea fly like an eagle let my spirit carry me
	I want to fly like an eagle 'till I'm free."
Those words and the whirls of the young virile men taking pride in their
	health, community and school curriculum,
Made me proud to be a resident of Cabrini Green because you see we were
	not all thugs or hoodlums.
Some former residents and nonresidents may look back and only see tragedy,
	hardships, struggles and things that were illegal,
But when I look back I see strength and triumphs and the Jesse White Tumblers
	as they catapulted through the air to Fly like an Eagle.


by Goldie Ann Farkonas
Around - the - twenty-first of June - a gift - takes place,
The - Earth - has - maximum - of "tilt" - toward - sun - in space.
'Tis known - as - "astronomical phenomenon,"
This - act - tells all - that favorite - season - now - has - begun.

A - welcome - to the - long-awaited month - of June,
For - June - brings melodies - of - heart-warm - tunes.
This month - brings long and sunlit days - to comfort - all,
'Tis - gift - from Nature - given time - to play - her call.

The - sun - in summer - nourishes - all life - supplies, 
While - summer nights - show brightly - lit - majestic skies.
'Tis - plentiful - for creatures - do respond - they sing,
Aromatic - fragrances - escape - by flowering.

The - residents of Earth - enjoy - these days - of fun,
The - "giving" - of the sun - and gentle breeze - like - none.
The - morning dew - does gently - kiss all sleeping - plants,
All nature - wakes - as insects sing - and do their - chants.

Your - cheerful days - dear June - will live - in memory,
We - will remember - warming sun - and Nature's glee.
We - welcome you - dear month of - love - your days - consume,
For - you - do fill the air - with joy - your rich - perfume.

Earth's - Northern parts - bestowed - with sun's most gracious - gifts,
This - for about - three months - as Earth - moves on - and drifts. 
Each year - the Earth - returns to - summer solstice - spot,
And - bows - to sun - receiving - warming months - it - sought.

The Orphan's Rose

by Rick Sadler
There was a muffled sound like
A Bass Flute in one's own psyche,
As the wind became very astute
Like the unsung words so destitute,
The Virgin Dove blew away conceit
Of the shadow's conniving deceit,
Stirring up ideas of mysterious nouns
A desire to wear a heart's touchdown,
To follow a stream down to the ocean
Of the Star of the Sea for one's devotion,
The Madonna found yet another orphan
On the back of a Dolphin lies a fortune,
There in a beautiful garden a Heavenly
Creature that takes away all the jealousy,
A drifting flower on a plain of never ending
Desert of a forgotten soul was depending,
On the mercy of the most purest Mother
A spring of water of the Great Spirit Father

Jesus Belongs to Us
(and We Belong to Him)

by Michael Talaga
In this world that is so quickly crumbling
We must continue to walk without stumbling
Even through we all have worldly obsessions
The Lord reserves the right to our possessions
His people surely know that Jesus belongs to us
And we belong to Him—He is the Holy one to trust
No matter how badly we are feeling
Let us all count on Christ for His deep healing
Always expect the unexpected
You will find yourself respected
God shall keep us well protected
Yes, we have to stay on our toes
Because that is the way it goes
Jesus belongs to us and we belong to Him
He loves everyone—small, big, fat and trim

Persia, 1978

by Tom Roby
On a cloudy afternoon, the year before the Ayatollah stops tourism, we bump along an ill-kept path; irritable, dodging sink holes. The sun sets a brief scarlet flag on the horizon, leaves a chill twilight over the circle of the plain. It is dark when we reach the shrine of the warrior who forged the Persian Empire, the statesman who ended the Babylonian exile. The tomb of Cyrus makes a great mound outlined against the night sky. We curse wrong directions, missed turns that bring us here too late, wondering how it looks in daylight. Our tired minds turn to where the next village might be, when a procession of bells rings out. We switch on headlights; find a flock of sheep curious about night wanderers to this abandoned souvenir.

brown grass flat

by Tom Chockley
brown grass flat
from the weight of winter
vernal equinox


by Barbara Funke
The lovebird caged
inside your ribs calls out,
its whistle, song, and screech
no shallow chit-chat
but deep as soul. 
Its wing tips rumple against the bars.
Sleek hooks forsake the swing 
to grip the bars and slide.
A foreign fingertip 
would brush its velvet breast,
but first your lovebird's silent beak
would taste and test the signature caress.

Your lovebird is no pet  
secured by lock and key,
no prisoner that pleads for liberation.
It is a simple heart's desire
to recognize a kindred call,
return a tender pressure,
repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat
the timeless measures of communion, love.

Letting Go

by William R. Harshbarger
We carefully hold for a while,
the hand that first held us
to the life-giving breast.

And know sadness behind that smile
when fingers slowly slip 
from life's burdens to rest.

The passing soul flutters 
from our outstretched hands,
trembling from its quiet nest.

The wind-borne wing shutters
above life's low-lying lands,
rising, free-flying, un-oppressed

The Hike

by Carole R. Bolinski
The hike was easy. Flat sandy soil
small rocks here and there.
Nothing too big. The route,
convenient and neat and solid.

Then we came to a turnoff.
A decision to be made:
Go to the right and remain safe
or turn off at the left, unfamiliar
and unknown.

Other considerations: The path
to the right would get us back
in time for dinner making
and dog feeding, TV
and nightly rituals.

The trail to the left would take time
walking over rough rock
and crushed pine needles,
passing through a forest
of Juniper and Pinion trees,
hearing birds tell their feathery stories
and giving right-of-way to Elk,
Javelina and Mountain Lion.

We chose the right,
the responsible one.
The one where adventure
becomes a dream
only to be hiked in sleep.

Pain or Hell

by Rafael Lantigua Medina
Who discovered this pain?
This spear running down my hip;
sliding under tender numbness —cold snake of fire—,
trembling, twinkling and tearing my patience and right leg?
It does not matter if I drug, ice/warm it, or else.
It comes back with more sadistic taste
and makes me limp-curse-twist-cry... and as I try to dam it
from my mind, it continues drilling, drilling, drilling my soul.
I swear it: this is not a fakeloo story or invention.
They call it sciatic pain: another twist for electroshock, torture or HELL!
This is real: I am a witness —not by choice— of this it...
so give me death or cure: I am not a hero, just a human being in pain.

Anatomical Drawings

by Lennart Lundh
One of us has the heart of an Edison
their grandparents might have owned,
the spring needing regular tightening
to spin fragile love songs that struggled
to be understood, to be clear-voiced
from black wax through needle to horn,
the first half of a conversation. 

This moment holds chances of comfort.
Two cups, one coffee and cream
stirred by a silver spoon, the other
bagged tea floating with a string,
glow and steam on the brick hearth. 
Part of a tree's trunk, its ringed heart
master of decades, of growth, storms,
blazes on the firedogs with branches
that died first of a shared old age
almost forgotten in this second passing. 

And one of us has the heart of a grenade
their grandfather might have carried
from 'copter to paddy, through jungle
and back to the streets of daily life,
ready to take out everything shared,
to flash and never be unheard,
fragments slicing bark, pruning branches.

(First appeared in his chapbook,
Poems Against Cancer 2019)


by Arthur Voellinger
Have you ever
listened to the
adjectives used
to describe a baby?
Beautiful rates
as the best
Although recently
I heard someone
eagerly express
Precious, pretty
and awesome
within a breath
Before adding
something about
being blessed

Anniversary Painted Scenes

by Bonnie Manion
The moods of Claude Monet's two canvases
of Waterloo Bridge reflect a sultry mauve dawn
breaking over the River Thames in one, some lurid
greens and the roiling indigo of an impending storm 
in the other painting.  I'm in anniversary dress for
this gallery visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Earliest rays of sunlight bounce bravely off bridge
gaslights, bright as flowers, still lit on the vaulting
span under a shy lavender daybreak, lending hope 
to the polluted mood of the dreary estuary.  My eye
is drawn to those lights as a moth to flame.  I want
joy in the implied gloom, joy on this rainy day.

In the other version, dark slashing blues and greens
add a somber, foreboding cast to both sky and water
surrounding the bridge as a storm threatens.  Smoke-
stacks in both paintings add hazy industrial background 
far across the river. Smog clashes with the naturalness
of dappled sky and turbulent water, an air of doom.

It is with trepidation that I study these views of Waterloo
Bridge, for only yesterday I had supped with a recently 
widowed friend.  Only last year both my husband and I
discovered we had serious cardiac problems.  Death,
like pollution, suddenly became that elephant in the room.


by Jill Angel Langlois
In his bed
She awoke,
Her eyes wide

Roses red
He held close,
A thank you

For their months
Of loving,
He'd found joy

Just Me and the Sun

by Charlotte Digregorio
A pelican burrows in deepening blue,
I nest in sand beside a rock
in a cove of swollen sun.

Bronzing to my core,
I ripen in salty sunglow.
Steaming heat reddens my hair,

soothes my eyelids,
and penetrates my cells.
My mind surfs pipe dreams

of riding wayward waves
in a funnel of rays,
discovering gold coins

in a bottle swept ashore,
and sailing far-flung oceans
in hot winds

with thoughts of my thoughts
drifting to sky's end.

The Colors of Summer

by Sherri Baker
Scarlet sage, roses, lavender and daisies,
the vivid colors that bring in the season.

Summer colors seen by all,
but appreciated by few.

Beauty taken for granted, much 
like life itself.

Picturesque, but unappreciated
until it withers away, buried beneath 
the hardened ground.

Winter's spent wishing you had
taken the time to appreciate the
vivid colors of summer.

Memorial to Peace

by Kathy Cotton
	The World Trade Center is a living symbol
	of man's dedication to world peace.
	—MINORU YAMASAKI, Twin Towers Architect

I hear Yamasaki's towering words,
four decades past, now sifting through
Manhattan's cenotaphic forest:
	Peace, he says. World peace.
Windborne from the lone Survivor Tree
and snagged in peeling bark of white oaks 
newly planted by the hundreds:
 	World peace.

And clear I hear his words, waterfalling 
into thunder, 30 feet below the street—
a nation's acre-wide reflecting pools 
in footprints where his Twin Towers fell:
	World peace.

I hear the wind and rain, the ghosted voices 
carry off his lofty words to neighborhoods,
and scatter them like ash, like seed
on street and schoolyard, synagogue
and mosque and chapel, over names 
as mixed as thousands scribed in bronze,
end to end on parapets.

	World peace,
he whispered over dreams and blueprints,
words hammered into sky-high buildings,
slammed to cindered bones and twisted steel 
but spoken still and heard in tiny conversations
by neighbors black and white and brown,
stranger to stranger, language to language,
small daily furrows of understanding
plowed into this world of rubble, 
our little words of kindness, sowing 
	peace, world peace.

(Pushcart Nomination 2015)

an autumn alliance

by jacob erin-cilberto
written on topsy-turvy maple leaves
veins of letters that succumb to irate winds
themes of golden color turning to petrified brown
as the pain of the early cold
preludes the snow periods that will end his lines
frozen verse
terse feelings raked into a pile
the masochistic side of me jumps into them
the stinging stems of hurt i gladly embrace
without you,
summer has played its last scene
the play is over,
and i want to sink into the earth
like the dead leaves underfoot
because my heart has felt 
the heavy steps
of your departure,
and my branch is now bare
of words.

sky gazing

by Steven Kappes
tonight, after the storm has swept through
leaving behind leaves of corn and soybean
shredded like worn confetti
and the air has cooled from the icy blast
of a northern high pressure ridge
we sit in our boat out on the lake
blown slowly across the rippling water
by the vaguest of northwestern breezes
while overhead the sky has been washed
an azure blue like the eyes of a gunfighter
rows of bubble shaped clouds
like the bottoms of egg crates
hang in straight lines
I think perhaps it is the mother ship
coming to take away the scouts
but just then a bass strikes my line
and I pull him through the weeds
lift him into the boat with my net
with the fish safely in my basket
I look again at the sky
only to see torn mares tails
ripping away at the bubbles
the mother ship a disheveled broken line
leaving we humans to fend for ourselves

Going to Rome

by Donna Pucciani
You ask me what I want to see
in Rome. I think first of the postcard
Colosseum, then the Trevi Fountain
with pigeons chattering

while perched on Bernini's stones.
Then the Vatican, with secret scandals 
and a new pope who promises 
showers for the homeless in St. Peter's Square.

I tell you that after forty years of us,
and centuries of domes and churches there,
I want to wed the past to the future,
catching a peripheral vision of the years

bumping on cobblestones, sprayed
by waters blown unexpectedly
from Baroque statues, caught by 
sellers of beads,

to chase romance in seedy hotels
we are too old for now, to buy apples
and cheeses from the market, to sit
in pews surrounded by echoes.

(First published in Roanoke Review)

Three Peonies

by Patrice Claeys
From just-June's
                         generous sun
come snouts through solid
                                        soil like hogs
tracking truffles
                      in tangled leaf litter,
red rockets from
                          subterranean pads
borne up
            on blind bandy-legged stems,
obeying orders
                      of otherworldly wills
to defy the downward
                                drag of gravity,
these spiky shoots
                          upstretched and thick
uncurl their curd-like
                                 culver buds,
transformed to feathers
                                     flounce of doves.

(First published by SWWIM on 3-4-19)

Spring Car Ride through Time

by Candace Armstrong
Big sky ever changing,
low cumulus backlit with gold
hover over shadows on tilled soil.

Long ditch grass laid flat by the wind
frames waving fields of wild yellow
mustard that flatters the green unfolding,
the brown promise of farm fields.

No longer interstate speeding,
the liquid soul moves through memories
in a perishable, fragile vessel
held by a seat belt.

Ekphrastic Poem

by Cassandra McGovern
Ferdinand Roybet's 1895 Painting
Children Dancing to Handel's "Sarabande"
Accompanied by a Stringed Instrument

Following the golden triangle rule, showing 
the family's footing on a formal afternoon, 
the artist paints a mustachioed mandola player
—perhaps the father or a local artist—in 
mid-painting, he all in black, velvet hat and coat, 
save a white froufrou flounce round his neck. His 
long fingers elegantly strumming, holding frets down 
while six-year-old twins at lower right dance to the slow 
joy of Handel's "Sarabande," hands on their hips, 
the girl's left shoe peeping out from under her skirt.

The little lady and lord Victorian velvet costumes, 
hers in two tiers of light blue, his in golden brown, 
each topped with white lace at their collars, do not
restrict their rhythm. The lad's white calf socks mark 
a slender boy, little brown ties under his knees. 

Madame, in lower left, sinks back into a straight chair, 
her yellow-flowered gown draped round her feet.
She looks at her daughter. The girl gazes at Madame, 
perhaps yearning for a kind remark, a nod. Oh, that
the mother would only smile. Are the bland faces 
from having to pose or is it a family who likes the arts 
though not so much each other? Everyone's sober 
eyes connect. Only the boy, lovelocks on his brow, 
stares at the viewer outside of the canvas.

Nearly unseen is a maid, painted toward the upper 
left near an open shuttered window. Her eyes 
focus on the uninterested—or is she sad—mother. 
Perhaps she is the real caretaker of the children,
snuggled in her black dress with white cuffs and raised 
lace collar, a white cap framing her nanny face, her eyes 
seemingly telling the mother not to fall asleep. 

(Olentangy Review. Summer 2017)


by William Marr
drawing open the curtains
he pleasantly finds
in the bright sunshine
the maple he planted years ago
still stands erect
in splendid green  

the world is alive
and well

Heading West

by Susan T. Moss

We don't have to remember
every pink-bottomed cloud,
what catapults or slithers
in our direction

just as waves forget they snarl
into white-lipped rollers
that hurl toward the beach
or softly sweep the shore.

It's in the doing: every inch inhaled,
every mile exhaled,
the impervious sun blazing
farewell to Nebraska corn stubble

stippling farms until spring's greening,
lone red-tailed hawks, 
sprawling pastures grazed
by meaty Herefords.

All those treeless towns, weathered cafés
and dusty ranches add up
to people's lives barely glimpsed
from speeding cars with travelers

who can only imagine nineteenth-century
pioneers' heaving wagons
or Pony Express Riders
hell-bent for California.

Remote fields flatten toward
the horizon cradled
by mountains with peaks
lost in clouds and time.

Here, open space unclutters
corners of our lives
packed with trivia that blinds us
to this unrehearsed beauty.

The Owl

by Idella Pearl Edwards
While other birds fly with noisy flapping,
The owl has a silent flight.
It softly glides its way through the air
Into the still of the night.

This silent flight is a symbol of peace,
The absence of turmoil and strife.
It gives us hope for graceful passage
Through the trials and troubles of life.

The owl's listening skills are finely tuned
Its sensitive ears hear all.
We too can master the art of listening,
As we strive to hear God's call.

Look closely at the owl and you will see
Wisdom in its round saucer eyes.
"O majestic owl, show us the way.
Teach us and make us wise."

The owl cries out, "Who! Who! Who!"
The answer, of course, is, "Me!"
I'll be the one to learn from the owl
And be all I can be.

Rainbow Gift at the Lake

by Gail Denham
The rainbow fades as rain and lowered 
clouds take over. For a moment it seemed 
the multi-colored arc would crawl up 
the beach and rest over our chairs.

Cameras click, but what mechanical
machine could capture the glory God 
spreads wide for our pleasure. 

Rain pours now. Our boat, like an ark,
remains anchored for the children 
to climb and pretend to be wild animals. 
They scramble for the best spot.  

I choose shelter under a tree while
last rays of color bow in blessing.

Accept It

by David LaRue Alexander
Because I selected
Someone they didn't approve of
Somebody not unworthy of        my love
Without further review
As if they knew
Who he was
How can they be
So discerning
Without ever learning
He really is
His character
Personality "Amazing!"
Under no circumstance
Will they give him a chance
To prove his worth
Even if             he were
The last person on earth
He's a....
Different faith
Different color
Unlike my father and mother
Not a Christian
An unacceptable
Why can't they see
How perfect we would be
That what they believe
Isn't true
They don't know     who
He is
Well, whether or not
They ever do
They'll have to accept it
As he'll never     be
By me

Ah... The Cine-Ma

by James Tosh
I love going to the movies
the big screen is such a sight.
Popcorn, pop, and a picture show -
what a true delight.

From watching westerns as a kid
with grandpa I did go.
Double features were the norm -
you got to see two shows.

3 D's at the old Esquire -
blood curdling, scary scenes.
Then at night at the Drive in -
hook on them speakers you movie fiends.

I loved to sit in the balcony -
seemed cooler than below.
The weekends always packed them in
through rain and sleet and snow.

And later came the Cineplex
and then the grand I-Max.
The screens got bigger and better -
good movies are a blast.

Movies make you laugh and cry -
they make you feel weak and then strong.
They'll send chills up your spine
and take you back where you belong.

Thrills and excitement -
passion and sorrow too.
You can feel high as a kite
and then sad, lonely, and blue.

But going to the movies -
it's cool and it's neat.
Sit back and watch the big screen -
one of life's grand treats.

My Friend Marie

by Wilda Morris
My friend thinks she is Marie Antoinette reincarnated.
She can't understand why she was reborn in a country
with no royalty. I tell her it's lucky she has no crown —
that's what cost her that previous existence. She drools
over pictures of Michael Jordan's palatial mansion.
She's not joking when she says, It should be mine. Royals
like me deserve fifteen bathrooms, nine bedrooms, five fireplaces,
a theater, wine cellar, card room, humidor, basketball court,
a circular swimming pool with its own private island,
and all the other accoutrements, but the balance in my bank account
is too low. Someone should behead the scoundrel who stole my royal stash.
When she says, I'll send the maid to the bakery for fresh bread,
I say Eat cake. She sulks and kicks me out of her two room flat.
I'm lucky to get out alive.

(Published in The Binnacle, Fall, 2015) 

Blue Eyes Singin' in the Rain

by Mary Jo Balistreri
He cruises the dusky streets for the first time
in six months, my eighty-nine-old father,
survivor of brain surgery and heart attack.
He leans over the wheel, a man happy in control,
excited to drive, impatient to sing. 
I sit beside him, applaud such zest and drive,
but anxiety nestles with hope in my chest, the night
ahead, his return to the stage.
	Dad hums the song he plans on performing,
	makes an occasional comment.
 	After he parks the car in handicapped,
	we sit for a moment, watch the setting sun.

He walks to the stage and grabs the mic. Waits 
with the leisure of a professional. Friends shift
in their chairs, sit up straight, Dad's success important
to them too. And then Ramblin' Rose winds its tendrils
into the cracks and crevices of the bare room, climbs
upon warm laps, flushes color into pale cheeks, 
where in sync and song, a scallop of scarlet blooms and shouts.

Silence absorbs the last note. For a second, no one moves.
Everyone moves, stands. The guys whistle.  
Dad lifts his face, his shy, sweet smile like rain
in the desert, and the karaoke club drinks as if they
were waiting just for this—this rising from the dead,
this miracle, this lamb of a man, this tiger.

(First published The White Pelican, 2012

Waiting for the Muse

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
I follow my grief to the edge 
of this haunted evening 
and wait. My hair is in fumes. 
My feet push out to sea. My bones
no longer speak. They have forgotten
how to translate the language of waves.

I wait for stones to turn into strawberries,
for their sweet red juice to bleed
through my veins, wait to hear
a serpent's sloughed skin hiss
its secrets of Eve,

wait to drape myself in the muse's silken shadow
as her shifting light colors my skin
brown, then yellow, then red until I learn
each hungry mouth and angry heart that echoes 
its voice through this melting earth.

(Previously published in Osiris)

Thin As Bone

by Jim Sullivan
Keep the faith, hold fast the fort
Travel thru crowds and clouds
Touch snowflakes and praying mantis
Hold it all tight in your mind

It only lasts for years
A tenderness you can't express
(Irish to the core)
Weeping over what might have been 

Thin as bone, sweet as wine
You notice, you taste brine
The last vestige of age
with a quiet respect for silence 
and stillness  and stillness

Thin as bone, sweet as wine
Be gentle with these memories

Myriad Migrations

by Marie Samuel
Wandering yet purposefully
Seeking lower or higher ground
Seasons lead them onward
To a quest for sustenance 
Water, feed for predators & prey.

Yet humans likewise roaming now
Sanctuaries seeking to find a home
Footfalls marching, northward on
Borders dangers crossing zones
Trekking burdened choices honed.

Arriving daring dream & hope
Hurdles climbing, one last push
Mazes, walls and greetings few
Ancient taboos separating most
Questions swirl and thwart them all.

Yet more still come without a place
To live in peace and feel some safe
Ways to work and grow a life secure
From strife and wars and bully thugs
For young and old, no choice remains. 

An Empty Sky

by Joseph J. Solberg
As a child, I beheld the bright stars above
They held all that I cared for, all that I loved

In my teens, they took on a sadder light
My Nana died, leaving heaven less bright

Then Aunt Pearl and my brother left me to mourn
And the stars became dimmer than when I was born

Now my parent's glow weakens and soon will die,
And through tears I'll ponder an empty sky

A Short Poem

by Michael Fevreletti
Because who has time
for verse that drags on

Keep it post-it sized
value without much effort

Don't get too cute
or overly academic

No one likes a show-off
Everyone prefers an aphorist

Give me enlightenment in the dark
but that wisdom takes many words

and this is a short poem
so we'll save the earth shattering for another day.

Hitching a Ride to Berlin at the East West German Border — 1977

by Emma Alexandra Kowalenko
Fall, early morning, drizzle stops, sun awakes
our hopeful faces for a ride through East Germany.
East to West Crossing must be made in a day. 
No stops allowed, those are the rules, no discussion.

Wars and treaties make the passage predictable.
Hitchhikers line up, orderly, politely, a cough, a sneeze.
Exchange a few words. First timers acknowledge discomfort,
feet shuffle, shoulders arched back, hands stuffed
deep in pockets, loose change clattering nervously.

Backpacks aligned like foot soldiers ready for their orders.
A pony tailed woman shyly offer peanuts, stick of chewing gum, 
multilingual thank yous, yes, nos. 
Nervous smiles that say more than words can, in any language.

Three ahead of us picked up in 20 to 30 minute intervals.
"Slower day than usual in border traffic," someone observes
in French-accented German. Back of the line grows. 
With the sun's ascent, in rhythm swallows dive, lift the morning's
dampness and our hopes for a ride, to West Berlin.

we are next in line. Backpacks dusty from six months of travel,
in formation, we await the next driver.

White Mercedes pulls up. Leather driving gloves on the wheel, 
look familiar. White Mercedes, driving gloves... can't be the same person,
same Lothar that picked us up in Kiel, a month prior. 
Can't be Lothar, who invited us to visit him in West Berlin,  
Lothar who we intended to contact once we got there, if we got there.

 "Coming to see me?" inquires the driver. Amused, surprised, 
Lothar it is! Serendipity, converging forces that we cannot understand, 
bring us and Lothar together at the East West German border. 


by Irfanulla Shariff
This sugary little word
What is it?
The soothing vibrations of trees
The relaxing sound of pebbles
In the river
The captivating rhythmic waves
At the beach
The whistling sound
Of a Choo Choo train
The people singing
In chorus at the Light House
The diversities of voices
And instruments
A language
That speaks in emotions
The birds' charming melodies
The tempting garden
Where every one
Wants to wander around
And feel
Vibrant and alive
Bond every one of us
With unconditional love
The sweetest source
Of purest pleasure
The most essential food
Of every soul
In this universe
Without it
We don't exist

For Once

by Marcia Pradzinski
My mind does not flutter away
from the room, the table
I lie on, the people surrounding me.
My body holds my mind still as I
wait and squeeze the soft ball the nurse
has placed in my left hand, its rubber
smell absorbing my attention.   
A flake of foreboding dances near her voice,
take a deep breath in, but melts in the
notes of Mozart overhead and the doctor's
questions about my life — my work,  my family.
Lost to me this time — the internal shivering,
the breath-freezing dread of the needle
and its cold steel that burns.
(Previously published in Red Eft Review, June 11, 2018)

Karma Yoga

by Alan Harris
Living every hour
in the exact middle
of my weaknesses,
I work some more.

Knowing the ways
I fell apart before
and took poor paths,
I work some more.

To piece together
my fragmentary
feelings for peace,
I work some more.

Pretty sure I will
later fail to restrain
some urges within me,
I work some more.

When all of my jobs
on earth are done and
I'm in and out of heaven,
I will work some more.

From Fireflies Don't Bite

More ISPS Poems | Haiga Gallery

Copyright Notice: Copyrights for all of the above poems remain with the individual authors. No work here is to be reused without permission from its author.

Note to ISPS poets: Poetry posted on the Internet may be considered "published" by some publishers and agents.