Two Poems by Anne Mikusinski

The Concert

At first, there’s
Loops and whorls of sound
Fill up the room
Rising and falling
Feeding on all emotion and
Of the waiting crowd
A flash and flood of light
The players, at their places
Settled into
Tonight’s temporary home
And for a while
No outside world exists
Just words
And music
And connection
A fleeting smile
A brush of fingertips
Or brief clasp of hands
There’s a middle, then an end
A mournful keyboard fades
Into a last goodbye
A quick embrace exchanged
And then

Chapter Two

In my next life
I will be
But more
To cover my
Sleeve worn heart
With an extra layer
Of camouflage.

In my next life
I will be
In the face of onslaughts
With words and
Mindful of my actions.

In my next life
I will be more
Less prone to
Less willing to
A path of
With no set destination.

Anne Mikusinski has been writing poems and short stories since the age of seven and probably making them up for a long time before that. Her influences range from Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath to David Byrne and Nick Cave. She hopes that someday, she will be as much of an influence for someone as these poets were for her.

Two Poems by John Tustin


I sat in the park with my pad and my pencil
And I tried to sketch the people going by,
The water crashing, the boats passing,
The green and yellow hill.
My left hand smudging the paper
As it dragged along like a bad leg.
I sat there interminably
And the people on my pad did not look like they were supposed to.
The water was dry,
The hills immovable and dull.

I bought the paints and I set up the canvas
In the room with the best daylight
But the work seemed too much
And my talent too slim,
The choices too many.
I couldn’t even decide on the colors!

I didn’t even try to play the guitar
Or sculpt.
A short story was impossible,
Never mind a novel!
All that work work work.
Nothing seemed easy until I began these delicate fuzzy sketches –
A few words at a time,
Halting like Morse Code.
Revealing just enough to a reader
For them to know but also not know –
Just emotions brushing up subtly against the heart.
I could argue about the meaning behind what I had written
Without even quite knowing what I meant when I wrote it
And I would always be right.

It was confusing and diabolical art
Written in the secret of a dark room alone.

I had found my confession,
My expression,
My purpose,

My milieu.

Walking Backward

I started to walk backward
and kept walking
until I reached the place I recognized;
remembered from some time ago.
I stood still
while the wind that once whispered
to me to do it
when I wouldn’t do it
now did nothing to me
but tousle my hair
and let loose
a sad but consistent snigger
of I-told-you-so.
with the rattlesnakes rattling
on either side of the path,
I started to walk forward
as the shadows of the sun that once trailed me
began to lead the way.

John Tustin has poetry forthcoming in The MacGuffin, Innisfree Poetry Journal, SOFTBLOW, and others. He is also a previous contributor to Sparks of Calliope. Find links to his poetry published online here.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Spend an Afternoon with Annie

Annie’s always calm and cheerful,
Speaks no ill of friend or foe,
Always prudent and productive,
Meets temptation with a no.

Never gossips, never grumbles,
Eats fresh fruit instead of cake.
Spend an afternoon with Annie–
See how long you stay awake.

Lenore in the Sunlight

I wake at dawn and face the sun,
Whose rays caress my head.
I glory in the morning light,
Though I can’t leave my bed.

My will is strong, my body weak.
Please help me stay alive.
It’s much too soon for me to die;  
I’m only ninety-five.

“Spend an Afternoon with Annie” and “Lenore in the Sunlight” first appeared in The Providence Journal.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had over 230 poems published in a wide range of places, including several in past issues of Sparks of Calliope.

Two Poems by Jan Wiezorek


What flows has a bank:
to sit by it and live
with wet-in-us,

iron-made of shapes,
yea-by-yea big,
large to sit in.

The wet moves fast
in a thaw. We say,
“How high it is!”

with no mean
in hand to make
it fact.

Over there, a bend
shows ghosts.
Old graves

from the hill,
as grace moves left
thru fog.

Two boys with poles
and a black dog say
they fish “At the dock.”

But it was full-up wet,
too high by the pier.
Still, you will see them

walk (down low,
in a steep of mud
and leaves),

with dog’s
nose to lead
the way.

For Us to Dry Out

Our town sits on a creek
that flows to the wet
of a grand space

lined by two banks.
You will see the flow,
as the wet comes in

all full near the dam,
in sprays and mist
that steam the air.

A mile on,
the wet turns
to a lake.

A drone saw a man skate
here to the length of it. Just ice,
skates, beech trees on the shore,

and a score
of shapes-on-ice,

up to the soul.
When wet shows up,
you will lose your place

in deep runs,
slick rock,
and dead leaves:

all the wet will
come for us,
for us to dry out.

Jan Wiezorek writes and paints from the trails of Southwest Michigan. His work has appeared in The London Magazine, among other journals, and he has taught writing at St. Augustine College, Chicago.

Two Poems by Lynn White

Photo Opportunity

I watched the man crossing the path
underneath the cascade of the waterfall.
It had been part of the route wine was carried
from the high lands, to be sold on the coast.
Back in the old days, that was.
But the old days weren’t very long ago.
He seemed confident
as he placed a foot carefully
in each of the footholds
hacked into the precipitous rock face.
He gripped the thick metal hawser
attached to the rock with strong
metal rings.
Gripped it firmly
and proceeded slowly
one step at a time.
I had a camera
and I thought
that it was a picture he would like to have
when he was dry and safe back on terra firma.
Then I thought,
suppose he falls,
falls into the waves,
to be smashed against the rocks
far below.
I didn’t want to have such a picture,
a picture of someone’s last moments
and I thought,
to take it
may jinx his journey
and even cause him to fall.
So I never took the picture.
But it made no difference.
The man fell anyway.

“Photo Opportunity” first appeared in Bold + Italic (Issue 2, 2018).

This Is Not An Egg

The egg box was so sculptural with its peaks and troughs
like a metaphor, a mirror of life in textured paper,
I thought a giant version could easily become
an acclaimed art installation
and I thought I could make it.
And then I remembered the glasses
left behind in a museum of modern art
by error or intent,
real glasses
not the “ne sont pas les lunettes”
Magrittean sort,
I could feel some guerrilla art hatching inside me.

I fetched the pot egg from under the broody hen
and pondered the possibilities on the way to the gallery.
There, I placed the egg box on a table,
sneaked it in
between the other exhibits
then I placed the Magrittean egg inside.
Just the one egg seemed most fitting
especially since one was all I had.
I had already written the title card.
Such a work deserved two titles
one above and one below the artist’s name,
my name, of course.
First came: “THIS IS NOT AN EGG”
and underneath:
It was perfectly placed
and looked magnificently subversively ironic.
I think Magritte would be proud of my effort.

And now I must wait
to see if anyone notices.

“This is Not an Egg” first appeared in SurVision (Issue 5, June 2019).

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including ApogeeFirewordsPeach VelvetLight Journal, and So It Goes. You can find out more about Lynn on her blog or on Facebook.

Two Poems by Diana Raab

Fortune Cookie

Each Sunday evening, in suburban New York,
we eat at the corner Chinese:
its fish tank hypnotic, the smiling

welcome from the Chinese woman
pressing menus to her chest,
who leads us to the booth with the vinyl seats.

They stick to my legs as I slide
across to my designated spot. Dad promises
me a fortune cookie on the way out;

from the bowl by the door.
We eat spareribs, lick our fingers
and laugh, try to pick rice kernels

and slippery noodles with splintered
chopsticks. We praise the food,
but wonder why we often leave hungry

for food and fortune. After extracting
mine from the smashed cookie, I put
the crumbled paper in my pocket,

and find it weeks later, hoping somehow
the words change
and the little paper whispers

truths about my own future,
which never told me dad would die
before my daughters’ wedding.

“Fortune Cookie” first appeared in Blood and Bourbon (2021).


When I stop to think
of the many ways a man seduces
a woman,

I see it transcends to hey haven’t I seen
you before, or deep shines
in sultry eye contact.

Like yesterday at Kennedy airport
where my sexy limo driver insists
on being my chauffeur
for my one week in his big apple.

How nice: a warm welcome into the city
of my childhood, I think.

His seemingly foreign kindness
might have captured the insecure girl in me,
not the confident woman I’ve become.

Years earlier I might have
accepted this invite
or even an invite to his place,

but now, after child-bearing years
and many surgeries and pains
of ill-meaning lovers, I shudder when

I spot a copy of Maxim
pursed into the back seat pocket, followed
by his piercing glance in the rearview mirror.

I toss a brazen glance at the woman on its cover—
forty years my junior, still porting her own
breasts nestled between two proud shoulders,
while mine are fabricated on the ruins of breast cancer.

In disgust, I turn and look the other way.

“Seduction” first appeared in Superpresent Magazine (December 2021).

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and author of 13 books. Her new poetry chapbook is, An Imaginary Affair: Poems Whispered to Neruda (Finishing Line Press, 2022). She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, Sixty and Me, Good Men Project, and The Wisdom Daily. Visit:

Two Poems by Laurie Kuntz

My Father Remembers

My father was not a great ballplayer,
or wage earner, or man,
but, he understood the cadence of his language.

Tired after a day of subways and sales
he read to his children,
all of us lined on the couch
like pigeons on a wire.

Sweating on plastic slipcovers in summer,
we listened to verses of Casey and crowds,
and imagined homeruns lost over horizons
we dared venture to.

My father at eighty-three, cannot recall
what it is he sold, or the route
into the city’s tunnels he traveled,

but the day my young son recites from memory
Casey’s defeat at Mudville,
my father remembers
and feeds his grandson lines:

 And now the pitcher holds the ball,
  and now he lets it go.
   and now the air is shattered
    by the force of Casey’s blow.

In the face of loss
thinking his children still young and enchanted,
my father takes a final swing
at this life striking him out.


“Something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay”
Billy Collins

Details, which once belonged to us
slip off memory’s hanger like a silk shirt.
A famous battle,
the actor, who always plays the villain,
or is it the hero…that jazz refrain,
beloveds’ birthdays,
names of well-navigated cities,
are lost in the tattered purse of recollection,
like the capital of Paraguay.

Not that the capital of Paraguay means much to many
but we were there, you and I, in November,
when mangoes fell from trees lining the boulevard.
We stuffed our packs and pockets full,
then ate them under moonlight,
when no one was looking,
and the world was mango-wonderful.

Now, I do forget–
Forget to buy your favorite cereal,
to turn lights off, to tie the dog up–
forget that I annoy.
But, I do remember the capital of Paraguay.

We were there once, you and I,
knapsacks caboosed to our backs,
belly filled with fallen mangoes,
living for days on just that fruit.

Laurie Kuntz is an award-winning poet and film producer. She has published two poetry collections: The Moon Over My Mother’s House, (Finishing Line Press) and Somewhere in the Telling, (Mellen Press), and three chapbooks: Talking Me Off The Roof, (Kelsay Books), Simple Gestures, (Texas Review Press) and Women at the Onsen, (Blue Light Press), as well as an ESL reader The New Arrival, Books 1 & 2, (Prentice Hall Publishers). Her poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and one Best of the Net. Her chapbook, Simple Gestures, won the Texas Review Poetry Chapbook Contest, and Women at the Onsen won the Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest. Happily retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her here and here.

Two Poems by John Muro


Like schools of cut-throat,
tail lights clot the doll-
house floodgate in a
communal muster of
ruby glass and chrome.
One by one, the cars,
crypt-quiet, slip into
the windless current
that drifts between the
narrow fjords of crushed
gravel before they’re
safely harbored and
moored to parking-meter
dead-ringers – compact,
bee-box speakers – sound
crackling thru metal gills,
and all eyes are soon
transfixed by immense
silhouettes drying like
blue frescos upon the
near horizon until the
last spray of phantasmal
light played out and the
night faded back to musky
silence and the distant
drum of muffled thunder.


Claude Monet, 1923

“To see green again, red, and,
at last, an attenuated blue,” he
wrote late in life with a clarity
born from darkness and made
manifest in these haunting
apparitions convulsed to canvas;
the loud laments of color and
tangled ephemera whose destiny
is decay; convinced of the need
to uncoil and recast ornament
with an abstract palette where
dusk spools in Neolithic dark
and phantasmal vines descend
and flicker in purple-gold waters,
delicately entwining the last of
light in eerie undulations, and how
the abrupt anguish and erosion
of forms readily displace those
calm confections that once drifted
beneath the luminous tapestries
of willow, an arched expanse of
bridge and the lush sanctuary of
his orderly, well-tended gardens.

John Muro, resident of Connecticut and lover of all things chocolate, is a two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and, more recently, for the Best of the Net Award. He has published two volumes of poems – In the Lilac Hour and Pastorale Suite – in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Both volumes were published by Antrim House and both are available on Amazon and elsewhere. John’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Acumen, Barnstorm, Gray Sparrow, River Heron, Sky Island, Sparks of Calliope and the Valparaiso Review. Instagram: @johntmuro.

Two Poems by Duane L. Herrmann

Warrior Poet Worries

What if…

If the pilot forced
to fly enemy plane
is his country’s
next great composer –
and I bring him down?

If that soldier
in my line of fire
is the world’s
next great poet –
and I kill him?

If that ship
my torpedo’s heading toward
has the greatest painter
of the century –
when his ship sinks
and he drowns?

How much will I pay?

Time Healing

A boy in a battle zone
of a war he did not want,
and could not win,
just trying, trying
to stay alive, saw
on hometown news,
a classmate arrested
for protesting the war.
‘Bastard,’ soldier thought,
‘His actions insult mine.
I’d kill him if I could.’

Decades and traumas later,
the two met.
Protester braced for
retaliation, but
former soldier said,
“I know now,
you just wanted us home.”

Duane L. Herrmann is an internationally published, award-winning poet and historian. His work has been translated into several languages and published in a dozen countries, in print and online. He has seven full-length collections of poetry, a sci-fi novel, a history book, and more chapbooks. His poetry has received the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, inclusion in American Poets of the 1990s, Map of Kansas Literature (website), Kansas Poets Trail and others. These accomplishments defy his traumatic childhood embellished by dyslexia, ADHD, a form of mutism and, now, PTSD. He spends his time on the prairie with trees in the breeze and writes – and loves moonlight!

Two Poems by Joshua C. Frank

Alone Together

Narcissus, in the days of old,
Fell in love with his reflection.
He knew none greater to behold
And starved while staring at “perfection.”
Now we’re enamored with our phones
Reflecting worlds of our own minds.
We sit and stare, as still as stones,
Bound by the modern tie that blinds.

At beaches, churches, concert halls,
Campgrounds, parks, and county fair,
We shut ourselves in online walls
As at our phones we stop and stare,
Side by side with closest friends.
We shun and snub each other thus,
And our relationship descends
To that of strangers on a bus.

The Vacant Playground

The playground’s occupied no more
The wind blows sand against the slide
No playground chatter like before
The swings are swaying side to side

The wind blows sand against the slide
The ladder’s rusting bit by bit
The swings are swaying side to side
The wooden picket fence is split

The ladder’s rusting bit by bit
No hands now touch the sliding poles
The wooden picket fence is split
No balls are kicked through soccer goals

No hands now touch the sliding poles
No parents calling children’s names
No balls are kicked through soccer goals
The children won’t play screen-free games

No parents calling children’s names
No playground chatter like before
The children won’t play screen-free games
The playground’s occupied no more

“Alone Together” and “The Vacant Playground” were first published by The Society of Classical Poets.

Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas.  His poetry has also been published in The Society of Classical Poets, Snakeskin, Atop the Cliffs, and The Asahi Haikuist Network, and his short fiction has been published in Nanoism.