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

First and More

by Arthur Voellinger
The choice of 
a baby's name
should not lead
to consternation 

For parents
trying to make
a life-long

While friends
and relatives
offer intriguing
Often made 
without logical

Universal Needs

by Marie Samuel
Those who are artists
Or writers of songs
Dreamers who hope
And thinkers of note
Yet they who are doers
Cannot be set aside
Activists do have pride
Not just along for a ride
Rebels and marchers 
Get their causes in line
We need all who care 
Our universe to repair
The damage is scary
A situation so grim
All voices are needed
To get us round the bend. 


by Donna Pucciani
Today all things are possible.
Berries become birds.
Daylilies become nighthawks.
Skunks become roses, roses lions.

Grudges morph into affection,
walls melt into bridges.
A loaf of old bread becomes caviar.
Shakespeare becomes Nancy Drew,
the Hardy Boys now Virginia Woolf.

But there is no miracle, Alessandro,
like the day you learned to clap.
Putting your baby hands together
once, twice, three times, amazed
at how they obey your silent desire

to imitate the grownups, you applauded me
for doing absolutely nothing but 
being your ancient auntie, turned angel,
my blinking eyes becoming wings.

It's Friday a juxtaposition

by T. Smith
Friday, a day of anticipation; excitement 
waiting in a room with people; looking at screens.
Planning, to befall; on Saturday 
sitting in a courtyard on a picnic table. 
Pictures of growths; inside it rains and
small streams in tight spaces; warbles on a patio go
moving to a room; moving scenes of 
growths abound; rival battles.
Planning it befalls all.
Inaccessible scenes; answer to bechance.
Foreboding verdict; doors close on
second act; peaceful
(This poem is a juxtaposition on a day
awaiting a diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic
cancer. We were waiting in a hospital
courtyard for a loved one to be admitted
to the hospital with abdominal pain.
We had received the results of the CT
scan knowing there was a growth on the
pancreas and lesions in the liver.)

Chickory, You Kill Me

by Terry Slaney
Chicory, you kill me.  You break my heart.
That blue
A chorus of dancers aside rural roads with 
Queen Anne's Lace by your side and the corn shooting up behind.
A stage setting

Every year we wait for you to tell us it is full summer as
Grandma Hazel gathered you both and buried you to dry in shoeboxes
Filled with sand and borax.
Shoeboxes under the beds full of flowers in the dark.

Then, like debutants in blue and white, you appeared
In a bell jar
To hold summer there forever
Be still my heart.

(Previously on the Aurora Poet Laureate Facebook page) 


by Rita Yager
"There is a fine line between the dancer and the danced upon"
Sam Zell
is still harboring
processing a corporate
trauma or two
moving back and forth
in and out of 
good and bad situations
the high prices paid
in emotional currency
trying to balance 
in midair all the ends 
that may not justify 
the means

The Language of Shells

by Patty Dickson Pieczka
Sibilant song,
Whisper of storm and sea,
wind scraping across mud flats

that once held water,
wind flowing through me,
through this phantom lake,

its wounded kayaks and wedding rings, 
skeletons of better days
when we'd splash, waist-deep in August

or curl into afternoon's warm shell,
listen as willow fronds stirred the water
and daydreams drifted in paper boats

until sunset painted the snow geese 
into a flaming island of feathers
that flew toward the moon.

Miracle Lady of the Eidolon

by Rick Sadler
The heart smitten by a Maiden's Spector
Wearing golden Spectacles of a soul collector
A Lady of the Milky Way was cleaning up
The house of the great Spirit Father's shiny cup
Thus the woman adorned by the silver stars
As a powerfully compassionate healer of ours
Our Star of the Sea nurtures of our most inner
Child no matter their faith of the sinner
All one has to do is call upon the lovely Maiden
She is at one's side to take away their laden
So come to the pure haunted mansion of now
Fear has no place in this magnificent abode for thou
Notre Dame is eagerly waiting to gather us in
In a place called sanctuary of love within
To the lady of Bridges so pure and quiet
It's in her smile that reflects the echo of light
That a soul longing for the Lady's embrace
Meditate to the Lady of Victory of the many minds
Is to help for the Mortals from their wickedness
A Rhymist writes of the White Lady of Peace
And advocates her message as in a poetic piece
Oh, Lady of Comfort heal all wounds burning
Before our end and teach love that we are yearning
Self the being wishing to be under the spell of the Rose

Magic Spell

by Irfanulla Shariff
Pour your self-love
In your heart
And decorate it
With the flowers of hope
Then you will see
It will be charmingly
Kicking and ticking
Oh! My friend
Consider this as
A magic spell

Little Boy

by Mike Ruhland
Little boy, little boy, with neck rings of dirt
and snot from your nose, which... Here, use my shirt. 

Does God think it rude when I laugh at such?
If so, then why did He make children thus?

You are almost five in a world turning scary.
Should we teach you to fear, to always be wary?

I can't bring myself to come to that place
where fear grips us all, the whole human race.

For you give us courage and make us stronger. 
With the hope you bring we can hang on longer. 

Your smile warms all, this fragile flame burning.
Yet should not we, we be yearning

To be the rock, not you.
At five you have your own work to do. 

Solving Problems in 1983

by Jim Wilkerson
I sit in my chair, squirming in my parachute pants,
My brain bouncing
Like one of those paddle ball games
If you listen closely,
You can hear the rhythmic knocking of thoughts

Michael Jackson's Beat It fills the air
Nerds candies crunch between my newly-formed molars
I grab my McDonald's Hamburglar glass of Tang
I still have half a glass - that should do
And I am cheered on by my little dog, Toto

If this was an easy challenge
I wouldn't need reinforcements

And so I dive deep into decision-making
Sometimes the answer was right in front of me
Other times it was so far away
That it seemed pointless to even look

But I kept searching
Kept hoping to find some 
Hidden solution
Sometimes making progress
Other times losing ground            Such is life

Then it hits me
The end CAN justify the means
So I gulp my last bit of orangey goodness
Slam my glass down with confidence
And fast-forward the cassette to play the song, Thriller

There goes yellow, then green, white, blue, and orange

And with a smile on my face
I finish re-sticking the last of the little red, square stickers

Rubix's Cube Complete

Street Portrait: Detroit

by Margery Parsons
My street seems peaceful, quiet.
On Saturdays, when the first dandelions sprout
people mow their lawns, barbeque,
and the sweet burnt smell stings our throats.
Kids play out front, ride their bikes,
shoot hoops in driveways.
On Mondays, we take our garbage out
to the curb
and expect it to be picked up.
You could almost think it was the 'burbs
for the sound of gunshots 
and the cackle of sirens
disturbing our sleep,
young girls walking down the middle of the street
skirts slashed up to here,
past houses that will never
see another coat of paint,
all the young men who ain't
and the mothers who visit them
on Sundays
with pound cake and tears
ride busses upstate
then down.
Birds know the calm
is counterfeit.
At the first change in weather
they caucus in the tops of trees
raise a ruckus
like gulls swarm over simmering seas
just before
the storm hits.

late fall

by Jennifer Thiermann
late fall
the faint scent of rose
in a rose

Love Perceived

by Elizabeth Shack
Two maple trees embrace—rough bark and leaves
that yearn for sunny sky in deep, dark wood.
Uplifted branches raise a lacy hood,
a canopy of green their union weaves.
From earth below, arisen in slow heaves, 
their roots entwine, uniting them for good.
Supporting one another they've withstood 
harsh storms, vile pests, and countless passing eves.
A closer look reveals a subtle truth:
One tree grows strong and tall and truly thrives;
the other leans away and vainly strives 
to reach a share of sky—but pinned by roots,
her hollow trunk has rotted at the core.
One tree stands proud; the other grows no more.

(First published in The MacGuffin, Fall 2020)

July Genesis

by Barbara Robinette
Last week, I plodded through seven days that bowed every 
evening to night's repose.  Now, while this dying respite 
births another day, the tanager sings into darkness, 
chorusing a whippoorwill's chant. A barely blushing 
horizon slowly blossoms as deer stand in shadows, 
staring at an empty cement slab.  The moon, a sliver 
of ravished life, hangs dumbly flecked by few stars 
above hills.  Trees stand as secret sentries surrounding 
a thought-filled house in a clearing. No breakfast for me, 
surgery is today.  All windows welcome breezes of morning.


by Paul Vanni

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