Two Poems by Daniel Howard


My lively passion’s death do I desire,
For if I cannot make its wildness tame,
I fear to be consumed within its flame,
And perish of my inner heat and fire;
For if she hates or loves me, both are dire:
Her hate my heart would much defile and shame,
Or if she said “I love” before my name,
I’d lose my life, when hers I would acquire;
Therefore I try steadfastly to resist
From looking longingly within her eye,
But even when I see her not nearby,
In each and every thought she does persist;
Thus I am like the fish who bit the bait,
Whose struggle cannot but secure his fate.


If all the flesh and bone of which I’m wrought
Did not detain me on the earth I stand,
But let me reach beyond my outstretched hand
And fly away as if I were but thought;
No more the miles I’d mourn, now come to nought,
That kept us parted like the sky from land,
For I could summon you on my command,
Or think on where you are, and there be brought;
But flesh and bone I am; and though my mind
Can paint your pretty portrait in my brain,
Its pleasant mem’ry brings but present pain,
Such that I wish my inner eye were blind;
But if nor flesh nor thought will let me see
My love, then I would rather nothing be.

Daniel Joseph Howard studied law in his native Ireland before taking his MA in philosophy at King’s College London. He currently works in the European Commission.

Two Poems by Felicia Nimue Ackerman


My sweet-sixteen dress was yellow as the daffodils
In the seamstress’s cramped but spotless living room,
Yellow as the sweet lemon bars she made each Christmas
For the neighborhood children.
Mrs. Mueller lived at the end of our block
In a little stone cottage near a field of flowers,
Like a grandmother in a fairy tale.
She was old and poor and crippled
But always tidy, always smiling,
Even as the marshals took her away
After it came to light that, once upon a time,
She was a guard at Auschwitz.

“Light” first appeared in Free Inquiry

Irene and Beth

Irene has shining golden hair,
And fame and glory without end,
And greater wealth than even she
Could ever find a way to spend.
But Beth cannot afford to buy
What goes beyond her basic needs.
She must make do with what she has
And squeeze each penny till it bleeds.
Which woman hates her empty days?
Whose sadness makes her hard and mean?
Who yearns and yearns to change her life?
I’m sorry, but . . . it’s not Irene.

“Irene and Beth” first appeared in The Providence Journal

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had over 220 poems published in a wide range of places, including eight in past issues of Sparks of Calliope.

Two Poems by Marc Darnell


Moving to the city, my red beard grew
to hide my boyish chin, and I lost weight,
enough to turn my sockets slightly blue–
adapting to a deader place and state

of being, or rather, not being, my tender hands
grew calluses from gripping wheels and brooms
that swept the refuse of a cluttered land
into heaps of cups and plastic spoons.

I became a stick who put on clothes
that fit the less the more that I went on
latching to the streets– a lonely moss
clinging in a fog that set the tone

for living in this borough full of blight
where faces turn away in failing light.

Exclusive Love

Save me from you, my love so strong
that if you left I wouldn’t live
past a day– that day so long
as if a year, so stay alive

near me, yet not near me. Strong
my pull is toward you, I could live
inside your grasp for hours long,
but do I need you, to be alive?

I shouldn’t, and if I did strike out
on my own, I’d feel such drought,
but I’d go on, finding out
the depth of pain beyond that drought,

but bleak– that if we lived forever
I’d have no other to pine for, ever.

Marc Darnell is an online tutor and lead custodian in Omaha, Nebraska, and has also been a phlebotomist, hotel supervisor, busboy, editorial assistant, farmhand, devout recluse, and incurable brooder.  He received his MFA from the University of Iowa and has published poems in The Lyric, Rue Scribe, Verse, Skidrow Penthouse, Shot Glass Journal, The HyperTexts, Candelabrum, The Road Not Taken, Aries, Ship of Fools, Open Minds Quarterly, The Fib Review, Verse-Virtual, Blue Unicorn, Ragazine, The Literary Nest, The Pangolin Review, and elsewhere.

Two Poems by Leo Aylen

A Pastiche of William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer fruit
Nature has blessed with colour, scent, and taste,
Which seem to bid each passing stranger ‘Loot
My beauty now, for later ’twill be waste’?

Shall I compare thee then to golden pear,
Whose beauty hath briefest perfection,
And once impaired hath no way to repair,
Meriting but foul-mouthed rejection.

Oh pare away thy peel of modesty.
Allow my lips to touch thy melting flesh.
Ripeness is not for all eternity.
We are but for one golden summer fresh.

Corruption creeps too near us. So prepare
To follow Love’s sweetest command… and pair.

A Pastiche of William Butler Yeats

Green fruiting nature is a paltry thing.
Leaves wither, fall, and rot to food for worms.
I’ll be no gardener, spread no muck. I’ll sing
Only of trees in rare Byzantine terms,
Whose fruit will be pure gold, fit for the king
Of a Platonic realm, whose councillors
Gather to praise his reign’s eternity
Untouched by nature’s rank impurity.

To my enamelled trees with fruit of gold
Will come the daughter of some prince of Spain
Caught in the timeless music of an old
Legendary mosaic stance. In vain
Will men plead blindly for her young, unsoiled,
Virginity. No one shall ever gain
Her for his sensual coupling, since, uncracked
By time, she is eternal artefact.

Leo Aylen was born in KwaZulu, South Africa. He has nine published poetry collections, the latest being The Day The Grass Came; five international prizes; 100 poems in anthologies; approx. 100 poems broadcast; performances in theatres, universities, and schools in Britain, North America, and Africa, including venues such as Albert Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral, Round House, New York night clubs, and to 4000 Zulus in an open-air amphitheatre. Recently poetry by Leo Aylen has been published in The Able MuseAmethyst ReviewGrand Little ThingsWestward QuarterlyThe Road Not TakenBetter than StarbucksScarlet Leaf Review, and Orchards Poetry Journal.

“A Dream We Have” by James Sale

There is a dream we have; we see it with
The children – teachers mark uninspired books
And yet even with language in full cliché
There comes across, through repetition, “Look!”

Our world would be a better place – if only
Some simple rules and all of them followed;
Like, if everyone were friends, or better,
No wars existed. Oh, Father! Hallowed

Be Thy Name, but how much “Hello” sounds
Hollow when “Goodbye” to all agreement
Beckons and eyes are only strapped to grounds
For seeing flatness which is only meant

To be and nothing else. A dream we have
And nothing else: children evaporate
Into adulthood, forgetting, like old men,
The smell of milk from breasts, for empty plates.

James Sale, a 2022 Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poetry and literary works published in Hong Kong, the USA, and the UK. His work has appeared in The Society of Classical Poets, The Epoch Times, The Times Educational Supplement, The Hong Kong Review, The Anglo-Theological Review, The St Austin Review, and many others. An international and award-winning poet, he currently is one of two judges for the Society of Classical Poets’ 100 Days of Dante poetry competition. For more information about the author and about his own Dante project, visit

Two Poems by John Donne

John Donne (1572-1631)

Ordered to take on holy orders by the king, British poet John Donne (1572-1631) actually wore many hats in his lifetime. In addition to his position as Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Donne was a poet, scholar, secretary, soldier, and member of Parliament. His prolific volume of literary work includes everything from sonnets to sermons. His metaphysical poetry sometimes touches on profound questions of religious faith while at other times can be surprisingly erotic and sensual. “Death Be Not Proud” and “The Good-Morrow,” are two of his most celebrated works.


Death Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


The Good-Morrow

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

Two Poems by John Keats

John_Keats_by_William_HiltonDead from tuberculosis by the age of 25, British poet John Keats (1795-1821) nonetheless has become second perhaps only to William Shakespeare as a renowned poet of classical English literature. He is, to the present day, looked upon with reverence as an inspiration to the craft. Regarded as among the most skilled of the Romantics, Keats’ poetry is noted as being heavily loaded with emotion, most often expressed through natural imagery. Keats is one of the many poets whose work was only fully appreciated after his death. The poems below, “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” are two of his most celebrated works.

Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness,—
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
                In some melodious plot
    Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
        Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                In such an ecstasy!
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
    To thy high requiem become a sod.

Ode to a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
       Of deities or mortals, or of both,
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
         For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
                For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
         When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

“Bach” by Arthur L. Wood

Bach is playing sweetly,
The flowers are in bloom,
My lady moves so gently
With her hands upon a broom,
She’s sweeping all the ashes
Into piles by the door,
And never ever need I ask
What are we fighting for?

For Bach will suit our toil
And Bach will suit our rest;
I gently peel an orange
And look upon the west,
Our lovely sun is setting,
The evensong begins,
The birds and Bach are singing
Unaware of sins.

And as the song increases
The ash is in my hand,
The birds become frenetic,
My lady’s in command,
Bach is in his tremor now,
My frightened hands are curled,
My lady breathes upon the ash
And blows away the world.

Arthur L. Wood is a poet from Winchester, UK. He has published two collections, Poems for Susan (2020) and Scarlet Land (2021).  His poetry takes inspiration from the lyrical poetry of the early twentieth century, notably Walter de la Mare and William Butler Yeats. Wood’s poetry has been described by Raymond Keene, OBE, as functioning “as an overview of the entire English tradition of poetic creation.” He is widely published in poetry journals and runs his own YouTube channel, Poetry from the Shires, where he shares classic and original verse. Wood’s third collection, Lysander, is expected in September 2022. Find him on Twitter @ArthurLWood.

“Lorna” by Patrick Key

I liked how she reminded me of plastic
tablecloths, yellow stained ceilings, and
all-purpose flour. She was smiling, romantic.
In the moonlight with me, resting on the land.
Drinking in the shine distilled illegally.
The path of darkness ended and turned into the heat.
Her warmth gave me hope, because secretly
I saw the bloodstains. Heard her bleat.
There were no footsteps leading to the wood.
I hope. Unlike others before her time.
Wedding bells soon chimed. “I could
wear pastel pink.” I wanted it to be mine,
but such a hue was lost to all of those years.
Memory beckons, even when I blink away the tears.

Patrick Key started writing seriously later in life, thanks to the help of a poetry class during his undergraduate years. His works have appeared in Wine Cellar Press, The Daily Drunk, The Amethyst Review, among others. He is also the founding editor of Grand Little Things. More can be found at

“The Birdman” by Brian Yapko

The morning’s hatch? A meager price to pay.
I earn my catch, drone my noon-songs, pray
To all the lares and penates on my back.
I lift my eyelids open but a crack
And pile my daily duties in a stack.
These I perform with duly reasoned thought.
(Once I saw a hawk and sparrow caught
And kept until each met its time to die)
I leave the cluttered desk, I float. I fly
Enraptured with the spirit of the sky.
      But whose voice calls me back? What altar burns?
      What pressing work awaits? Whose planet turns?
      And the dial, the dial crosses me. Aflight
      I dread the day should e’er be spread with night.

Annunciation of the dark. My flight
Is done. I disconnect the yellow light
And leave for home to force my evening meal.
I toll and chant each vesper as I kneel
Before the lares. Why don’t they hear and feel
What I am suffering? Am I? Am I alone?
Is there time to live? Can a person turn to stone
In just a day, a month, a year? I read.
I pray the night consume my thoughts of human need.
(And if… if I fly… is that not also greed?)
      I am being called back. No altars burn.
      But my work awaits as darkening planets turn.
      And still that damned dial crosses me. Tonight
      I dread that I should e’er again take flight.

Brian Yapko practices law and writes poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Grand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press and as a first-prize contest winner in The Abstract Elephant. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.