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Since my teens, twin interests in spirituality and comic books have warped me. Most spiritual poems are short (comparing a cloud to God's zit, for example), while comics burst with vivid imagery, our culture's four-color throwaway art. Hence, my short poems are often both metaphysically couched and glossy with vibrating imagery. 


As a form, short poems are largely ignored, dismissed, or reviled. They don't lend themselves to easy thesis-writing. Placing a different demand on the writer than other forms, short poems require a light touch, like cream puffs. They're the true American haiku. Few editors use them. They're fun to read. They should be in fortune cookies, instead of those generic fortunes. Thanks to Dale Wisely and the editors at Right Hand Pointing for being one of the few publications dedicated to short work.


And thanks to David McNamara of Sunnyoutside Press for his support of my short work over the years.


Michael Kriesel








Paper Navy—Main Street Rag

Radioactive Sonnet—Right Hand Pointing

Paper Plate Floats on a Lake—2014 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Calendar

The Night Before My Birthday—Nerve Cowboy

I Thought There’d be a River—Nerve Cowboy, Right Hand Pointing

Petitioning the Wind—Seems

The End—Shit Creek Review

Roommate—Arbor Vitae

Heart’s Migration—Chiron Review

Driving to Las Vegas to Get Married (as Sailor Drowning in the Desert)Quercus Review

Light Farms—Seems

Soul Noir—Pearl

The End2003 U.K. anthology Saturday Night Desperate (Ragged Raven Press).





Paper Navy


Stepping off a Greyhound in Milwaukee

shouldering a sea bag full of missing social skills,

I walk away from ten years in the navy.

Ben Pierce meets me with a pint

of homemade raspberry vodka.

We hit the nearest bar and talk ourselves empty

except for the seeds in our teeth.

I fold my DD-214 into a paper boat

and flush it down the toilet,

knowing it’ll never reach the sea.












Radioactive Sonnet


A radioactive sonnet

bites me like a spider.

I become a poet,

unlike Peter Parker.


Now lavender whales

pod the sky

where spandex sailed.


Now the sky’s

full of ghosts that

need laughing at.













Paper Plate Floats on a Lake


A leaf lands on my brain

like when I was nineteen,

sailor at a picnic table

halfway through a six

of Mickey’s Malt Liquor

and a box of Twinkies.

Inhaling, I can taste

the air’s lavender burn,

heart inflating until it

beats outside my chest.

Big as a duck, it loves

and loves against

the earth’s impermanence.













The Night Before My Birthday


I miss the Captain America comics

I had as a boy in my thirties.

Late summer stars freckle

night’s adamantium shield.

I miss the constellations

of your thoughts, miss

your face’s beam of light

connecting everything.

drinking with your ghost

raccoons steal corn

like no one’s there













I Thought There’d be a River


The motel’s empty, sun

almost done going down.

A pearl limousine pulls up,

jumpsuit Elvis at the wheel.

I close my eyes.

The dead drive fast.














Petitioning the Wind


Crows tumble like shingles ripped off hell’s roof,

calling God every name in the book.


They don’t give a shit what we think.

Crows eat death and tell the truth.


Caw what isn’t popular. What doesn’t entertain.

Like pain, some things can just be said.


Petition the wind with the names of the dead.












The End


The man who is writing

the end of the world

began like this: he sat down

in a chair beside a window,

closed his eyes and waited

for the steam to finish rising

from a cup of coffee—

pen and paper resting on

the windowsill, darkness

spreading from behind some

trees outside the window.

The trees are aquamarine.

What kind of trees they

are is unimportant.

What’s important is the way

it’s already begun: how

every night behind his eyes

a few less stars come out.














Helicopters chop

his sleep


I tell myself

two weeks












Heart’s Migration


She follows me into the bathroom,

afraid I’ll disappear.


When I disappear,

flocks of letters follow me across gray water.










Driving to Las Vegas to get Married


Tumbleweeds line the wire fence pacing the interstate,

wind pressing them in place.


I love the sunlight hot as coffee.

Even the speedometer’s orange needle pricks my heart.














Light Farms


At night the fields glow. You can read

by the light of the neat rows of bulbs

growing underground: everything

from children’s night lights

to butter-yellow vapor lamps

to Friday Night Football lights,

nova-bright and dreaming

in the dirt like baby stars.

Moths swarm the fields all summer,

powder from their wings

coating the fluorescent tubes

that sway like sugar cane or corn.













Soul Noir


I just walk out of the Neon Toad

when this big guy grabs my shirt,

spins me around like a carnival ride

and slams me up against the bricks.

All I see is cartoon stars

but his voice cuts right through.

Lie to yourself on your own time, punk.

Then I’m on the sidewalk, sitting up.

No one’s there. It was my conscience.

Bastard finds me anywhere.


















Winner of North American Review’s 2015 Hearst Prize and numerous other awards, Michael Kriesel of Wausau, WI, is a past President of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. His poems and reviews have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Antioch Review, Library Journal, Rattle, Right Hand Pointing, Rosebud, The Progressive, and Wisconsin People & Ideas. Books include Chasing Saturday Night: Poems about Rural Wisconsin (Marsh River Editions), Whale of Stars (haiku) (Sunnyoutside), Moths Mail the House (Sunnyoutside), and Feeding My Heart to the Wind: Selected Short Poems (Sunnyoutside). He has a B.S. in Literature from the University of the State of New York, and was a print and broadcast journalist in the U.S. Navy. He collects old comic books and works as a security guard.




Michael Kriesel

Every Name in the Book


p o e m s

Anchor 194
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