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

My Father's Chair

by Karian Markos
autumn leaves so quietly 
changing tones in the night
a graceful whisper fluttering 
from the sky

wake to frosted mornings
to black wool caps and peacoats
chilled fingertips and chattering teeth

evenings with you and the poets
by a warm stove
dim light casting shadows
that dance on the wall

an oak paneled room
scented with fragrant jasmine
and warm tea sipped in quiet

you dream as you sit on your worn chair
of when Autumn's last leaf 
fell to the ground
with its delicate windblown song

its swaying melody calls me
from an old portrait on the mantle
one leaf's song
a quivering, whispered goodbye

The World That Once Was

by Christopher Kuhl

I gather myself in, in the silent
movement of an approaching
storm, sheets of lightning

firing in the western skies. And
then the storm is here, the wind

around the world's corners;
tree branches bend, twist, threatening
to split off from the trunk,

scattering twigs and leaves
on roads, fields, rivers. There is
a strange loveliness, slow and heavy,

of a storm in open country.


I live now in a place that is not
my place, surrounded by a past
that is not my past. Lost in the

faceless anonymity of crowds,
I am confronted with the violence
of despair, 

the desolation of the senses. 
Like so many who live with these
little tragedies daily,

my—and my fellow travelers'—
hearts harden; this waste is a terrible
reduction in and of humanity: lost

in the city's deep shadows and narrow
alleys, words are rendered senseless;
what does it mean? What does it all

mean? I need to leave the city's
brazen violence, and return to
my life's roots.


On cool days, we go back home
in dreams and memories, as
it was on a lazy, still summer day,

as it was, but is no more—
our dreams and time and place
are ours no longer; we are become

irrelevant. Now, engaged in the shared
mysteries of whiskey and moonlight,
we lie beneath the summer trees and

talk quietly, gently of our people making
their way in a land both harsh and
forgiving, experiencing the

humming earth as newcomers.
Generations later, we rise up
and tell stories of the landmarks

of the world that belonged
to our people: it was once home, yet
is no longer; the land belongs to 

strangers. Still, the passing of time is
increasing, and my end is almost upon
me: all that I will leave is the two

or three generations who may remember
me, and whom I will be sorry to leave

Before There Was Rorschach

by Lennart Lundh
It's a grove of red trees on a sandy shore.
Or a field of dirtied snow. Viewer's choice.
The stand is maybe two hundred feet
right to left, depth anybody's guess.
There's no good, certainly no sure,
way to determine scale. Love's like that. 

A family of foxes lives there, camouflaged. 
There's one peeking out. There. See it?
Maybe the coyotes by the lake,
behind the houses across the street,
teaching their pups to howl in the woods
after snatching a goose or two at night.
Sometimes they howl back, conversing,
as a fire truck hurries on the county road.
They wake me, my dogs, but not the cat.
Sometimes, love's like that.

Or there's a boy and girl, woman and man,
both hunters and gatherers of need, want,
explorers of new lands or seasoned lovers,
wrapped in the shade and silenced birds,
wrapped in each other instead of clothes,
invisible from here. Love's like that, too. 

(after the 1508 sketch "Copse of Trees,"
by Leonardo da Vinci)

Golden Ginkgo Leaves

by Elizabeth Stanley King
Just when you think all is well the path comes to a crevasse.
One you can't jump, no bridge, no more path to traverse.

	The wind blew them down
	many golden ginkgo leaves
	My heart was breaking

On the other side are golden ginkgo trees. Trees I helped plant. Trees I watched
grow and blossom. Trees I planned to see in their first full bloom. I'll never get
a chance to see them this way again.  The first full blossoming. Plans torn asunder.

	Blown over the path 
	I walked across golden leaves
	golden ginkgo leaves

Agony of an aching heart and eyes with tears fought back. Consumed by emptiness
and that hollow feeling when you can't be with the ones you love.  I leave the
edge of the path and walk back the way I came to faded dreams.

	The wind blew them down
	I strolled through golden ginkgo leaves 
	My heart was breaking

Fall Creek

by Jill Angel Langlois
The wind picks up its baton
And as a maestro conducts a symphony,
The wind commands the trees
To rain, showering their leaves
Letting go in chorus
Like a light snow
Covering the ground in colors.
A green apple
Plunges for the creek
And all around me,
Standing here on this bridge,
Something changes, alters
Something wasn't there before.
The sun shines through the leaves of lace
Making patterns of light in the creek,
Reflecting leaf shadows.
Gracefully they fall
And plunder toward the earth
Light as feathers
Soft as Angels.
A butterfly lights,
My heart takes wing
Displays its stripes, I thrill
Birds call in the distance
A blue jay signals freedom
Leaves continue falling
Causing ripples in the creek
Crickets chirp like the drone
Of an Indian tambour
I feel the fawn's spirit that passed over this bridge
Quivering leaves overhead
Sound like applause
Mostly the poplars seem to be clapping
The snowing leaves now swirl around me
And gather on the earth
The creek looks like leaves
Embedded in a paraffin candle.
I think the butterfly fell asleep.

Tally Ho

by William L. Lederer
I'm dying I think. That's why I am.
A catchy line. Sorta spic and span.
Prove me wrong. You neuro-scientist.
Come up with a better one we can't resist.
Imagine generations of thinkers
lining up others and calling them stinkers
if they didn't battle tooth and nail with you
over such things as how do you do
in the grand scheme of things which we've never seen.
I swear so arrest me for finding nothing better to do
than argue what's obvious to me and you.

Better go to some lab and figure out
singularity and don't pout
if an alligator comes by and says, "Answer me!
Aren't I lovely looking but scary.
And you dare turn me into a shoe?"
I say boo. Go away and be quiet.
The scales would be much better off if you went on a diet,
Am I only appreciated if I make you happy?
Throw me in a zoo. I'll go slippery with you.
Or maybe just stare at you and wonder
why I wonder and you don't.
Surely it's not because I'm inherently stupid.
In the Great Chain of Being who's your master?
I'm tougher, quicker and it would be a disaster
for you to go to war against me. I have the equipment:
Knives and forks and all sorts of judgement.
You can't raise a paw to hold my hand.
If you can't love me then I'll be damned
if I'll love you in return unless be worshipped

as some mighty god that'll snap back
at the slightest opportunity because of a dream I have
of you getting even and I turning into you and respecting you
and totemizing you for your great power
along with little bugs and invisible germs.
Not to mention good and bad angels
and what's left over from days of yore.

It's a busy world and I'm in a rush.
Where's my toothbrush?
Always forgetting so much.
I wish I could live and keep collecting
stamps as a hobby or some such thing.
But as I told you I'm tired of mysteries.
Series of events that make too much sense.
Reveal your face and I'll show you my kisser. 
And our long awaited wait can abide.

Watching the Sunrise on the Mountaintop

by William Marr
Only at this height
can one see
the serene face of the world
after a full night's sleep
The clouds are so light
The wind is so gentle
there's not a single trace
of nightmares

Essential Truth

by Rafael Lantigua Medina
We, the rain, the leaves, the wind,
the pieces of land, and the sun that nourished
our ancestors and theirs, and eons of souls before
know the essential truth —At least we all try.
And yet, who knows when a moment will return,
in which the leaves' dance and the river's song will stop—
Or when, the wheel of life will spin again
and call us creatures of the wind, earth, water, or fire...
It's crucial for all latitudes, to understand
this essential truth: we go, come, and go back.
and yet, the rain, the leaves, the wind, the sun
and the earth are the same and not. Don't they...?

Beyond the Line

by Jim Lambert
Is your personal space violated
as I stand close and whisper?
Do I go outside my limitations
when we gaze at the sun
sinking behind the crowds?
Is there an edge to all of this
and a marker to define it?
If a line is drawn in the sand, 
and a wall is built,
will a tunnel mole us
to the other side?
When the end is near will we know
exactly where it is?
Did your neighbors build fences
to hide their shame or fame
and will they still espouse 
brotherly love from 
beyond the line?

Stay the Course

by Susan T. Moss
Don't do anything -

	just stand there.

Let the flies buzz

	and petals fall around you

		in this perfect moment.

Wait for the signal,

	a flash streaked
		across an interior landscape
that answers YES!

	to the dark side of the soul

		and invites you to

pirouette in rhythm

	with earth's

		turning and hurling

through places

	never traveled before.

Being Right

by G. Jordan Maclay
It is so easy to criticize
It is so easy to judge
It is so easy to blame
It is so easy to be right,

	so safe and comfortable,
	like coasting downhill.
	It brings me pleasure,
	dopamine in my brain,
	perhaps an addiction
	since I like being right.

It is so easy to create 
a protective bubble
surrounding me.

	Inside I am perfect
	and never need to change.


by Tom Moran
from foreign
my poems
are sea shells,
hard and small.
They enclose
what I've
Hold them
to your ear—
you will

The Solitude of Things

by Cielo Jones
While wandering,
I chanced upon a seed, 
held it in my palm, 
as if a treasure found.
Perhaps a wildflower? 
There's none of those nearby.
Maybe a bird dropped it
yet the only one I see
is flying too high
There's none singing 
perched in a tree 
None trilling in a nest
hidden in the bushes.
Unusual for a  sunny day
with one fluffy cloud
floating undisturbed
in the blue of the sky.

Wandering still, 
I came across a tree 
standing alone
on an open field with no fence, 
no visible boundaries
Save for a line 
of hundred solar panels
on the south side. 
A vertical thing 
on a horizontal plain 
surrounded by brown 
wintered grass 
not quite ready to sprout. 

Then down or up the road 
(because there's no rise or fall,
and depending on where 
one is heading), a deer wanders 
oblivious of nothing. 

Second Opinion

by Karen Hurley Kuchar
I had built a fragile structure
				With hope and denial
Like Jenga blocks
			With holes, I admit

I met with the renowned doctor
			with exquisite compassion,
Pulled out block after block

			Until my tower collapsed

I was broken
			Among the tumbled blocks
	And dashed hopes.

In time I can rebuild, a smaller sturdier tower
	but for now
I weep
	tears from clear eyes.  


by Wilda Morris
While his brothers 
rose each Sunday, 
dressed in suits 
and clerical collars,
Uncle Norman pulled on
overalls, milked goats
he named like Adam, walked
aisles of string beans,
broke one bean like bread
and put it on his tongue.

He looked up at the dome
of sky, drank in sun like wine, 
read epistles written 
by swallows. He knelt 
beside a milkweed, watched
a monarch—newly risen
from its cocoon—fold
and fold its wings.
A choir of eastern bluebirds
chanted a gospel of grace.

Uncle Norman whistled his own
doxology, gave thanks 
for his small sanctuary.

From At Goat Hollow and
Other Poems by Wilda Morris
(Kelsay Books, 2023). First
published in Encore: Prize
Poems 2012 (National Federation
of State Poetry Societies).

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