BIO: President of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Michael Kriesel, 51, is a poet and reviewer whose work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, Rattle, Small Press Review, Library Journal, Nimrod, North American Review, Rosebud, and The Progressive. He served on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission 2006–2008 and was the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Conference Coordinator 2006–2012. He’s won the 2012 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Triad Award, the 2011 Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Contest, the 2009 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Muse Prize, and the 2004 Lorine Niedecker Poetry Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. He was featured poet for the 2010 Great Lakes Writers Festival. 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 1980–1990. He’s currently a janitor at the rural elementary school he once attended.

Whale of Stars (sunnyoutside,, 2012), letterpress hand-sewn chapbook; $20.00
The Light of Fields (mini-chapbook of reprints from his second chapbook of 1982), Alternating Current Press, 2009 - $3.00
Moths Mail the House (chapbook ), 2008 - $10.00 includes shipping
Soul Noir (23 pages of prose & justified poems) Platonic 3Way Press, 2008 - $5.00
Feeding My Heart to the Wind (Selected Short Poems 1999-2005), 2006 - $7.00 includes shipping
Chasing Saturday Night: Poems About Rural Wisconsin, Marsh River Editions, 2005 - $10.00 + 1.25 shipping & handling
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Hidden Snow

Staring at the picture window’s winter
yard, I focus hard and try to freeze time
from under the couch. Halt each flake of snow.
I’m six and watching Twilight Zone alone.
A silver flying saucer delivers
cancer and I know sooner or later

it’ll find me. Now forty years later
it’s late November. Another winter.
My uncle Dale and me, delivering
firewood. Later, there’s still enough time
to cut red oak. The two of us alone,
his tumor in remission. There’s no snow

yet, so our hands stay dry. Most years there’s snow
before Thanksgiving. Each day it gets late
a minute earlier. Back home, alone
with my thoughts and a bottle of winter
bock beer, dad’s old paperbacks kill some time.
“Swinging his broadsword, Conan delivered

a killing blow.” Cancer of the liver
killed my dad. “Like twin piss holes in the snow,
the wizard’s eyes flayed his soul.” The last time
we brought dad home the clouds were bone. Later
I walked to Dairy Queen. It was winter
then, too. Two years ago. I drink alone,

thoughts looping down a logging road. “A lone
figure trudged the tundra where nothing lived.”
Cancer just keeps coming back, like winter.
“Rolling downhill he grappled with the snow
ape—sheathing his knife in its guts.” It’s late.
I unsheathe my chainsaw, sharpen its tines

and brood on Conan’s grim God, Crom. One time,
he helps, granting strength at birth. My dad’s one
gift. The scabbard’s orange, plastic. It’s late.
I sheathe my blade and rise; deliveries
tomorrow. I see where this all goes. Snow;
no snow. Banal repetition. Winter.

Trees. Time. Lives. The way my stoic liver
works. I drink alone, waiting for the snow
and a later season, beyond winter.

—Michael Kriesel

Winner of 2009 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Muse Prize.


Zen. Zero. Zilch awaits all afterlives.
Yet somehow we can’t imagine nothing.
X marks the spot. X must equal something.
Whether math or death, Nothing must be named.
Vending machine? Why not? Let X be death’s
Ultramundane, unknowable chrome-legged
Toy dispenser. Souls sucked in, toy coffins
Spit out—unless that soul is on a string.
Remember Lazarus, recalled by Christ.
Qabalistic texts agree how he was
Pulled back from death like a coin on a string.
Oh, Jesus knew the secret would be safe—
No one who ever comes back recalls much,
Mostly since there’s nothing to remember.
Laugh if you want, it’s good for the soul—though
Killed, hope resurrects like dandelions.
Jesus knew all this. Still, he was right. We’re
Immortal, since mind can’t survive its end.
How do I know all this? Easy. I died.
God wasn’t there and neither was I that
First time in Madison, Wisconsin.
Evening. I was leaning against a
Dull red brick wall, chanting. And then I was
Chanting, leaning against a red brick wall.
But there was a gap, and in my hand was
A toy coffin. Can I get an Amen?

—Michael Kriesel

Published in Free Verse and North American Review; finalist in 2007 Hearst Competition