“As Crickets Chip Away the Light” by Michael Kriesel

Michael Kriesel


I quit the news, turning my back on the world
except for the weather robot on the radio:

chrome manikin sitting all day, all night
at a gray metal desk in a white broadcast booth

reading the page of our future over and over
into an old microphone big as a silver cucumber.

His monotone of highs and lows soothes me.
He’s always there doing his job, not beating his

platinum wife or confessing some sordid affair
with an orange Cuisinart to the priest

who listened to our hearts for fifty years.
People don’t want to grow up he confessed,

when asked what he learned in that dim cubicle.
I lotus too long on the floor and my foot falls asleep.

A frost advisory follows me into the kitchen.
I hop on one leg. This could have been heaven,

except for humans over-farming Eden’s fertile plains.
There’s always some Solomon cutting down Lebanon’s cedars,

building a house for a God who moves on.
It’s getting dark. I snag a beer and stumble out.

Crickets chip away the light, drowning out
the droning voice in the house behind me.

Squatting on the steps, I watch a line
of fireflies stream the interstate,

remembering a firefight a friend confessed,
a navy buddy. We were drinking Mad Dog 20/20

when he told me how the tracers in
the river’s mirror were an eerie beauty.

I press the sweaty can against my neck
and stare at a cattail’s frozen explosion.

We’re more than just a tribe of monkeys
writing angry haiku. It matters, what we do.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Michael Kriesel: “‘Crickets’ was a breakthrough, juggling multiple symbols toward the same meaning (something I admire in Bob Hicok’s work). Increasingly my mind hands me an anecdote, idea or image right when I need it. Some of the items in ‘Crickets’ go back twenty years (the navy conversation). Others showed up during writing, all of them true … even the hope at the end.”

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