Crisler's poems online:
I drove passed Pickneyville,
let the colloquial explosion of naming
a town slip into my drowsiness,
while I kept one eye struggling for light.
I was driving away from my grading
of composition papers, on an interstate
to St. Louis, while the fog outside
infiltrated my head space. All was white.
I fought at fighting, kept pushing lead
eyelids up until the muscled fog
swallowed me in an abrupt braking.
I saw where they escaped, the small
hilltop where fence was corrupted. All over
the highway, the horses hung out, majestic,
shinny with muscular toned skin representing
heaven's third ward—encircled by clouds,
car completely at full stop, on a lonely high
way with horses. Me. They stop-signed
my doubt, took over two lanes of road,
like an orange highway crew. Dreamy, we
all were in God's mind, no ground existed.
They were wild, life—free, roaming a great
expanse of faith. And for minutes the loud
words of hooves faded from road to grass.
They gave me passage, as the white around
their legs made them roll by me, before I
knew I was looking back at black voltage
thighs, or life's true burgundy of a buttock,
through my rear view; and still, no cars came
from the south. The black horse fiercely shook
his mane. The rest of gang eyed me going
north. A whiteness shifted, as sound tried
hugging my tires, tried playing with rubber
on concrete. My head cleared. Awoke,
I rode. Watched another phalanx of horses
trot down hill in rear view. Oh, so honest.
—for Liviu Librescu
Your hands on steel door, on entrance
& exit, put your mind back to camp, site
you fed breath hope in concentration of
Nazi dissidence. Only to embrace how
time made hope a man since Germany.
You have crested this threshold before,
waiting, wailing, accepting tremor & shake,
with brothers & sisters in a grand atrocity.
Yet here, old voices of young faces ghost
through your mettle & hold you to fence
this wall of suffering. You are not alone,
here, there are millions holding up their
weight against intrusion. You know all of
these somber brackets of change, like you
know adjustment, & time, & hurt. Hands
like strange-toed feet walk on vertically,
up towards a ceiling, walk on like a band
of musicians parading in streets to paradise
of tirelessness. To the right of you, hands.
To the left of you, hands, pushing down
structure to lunacy. A soft chorus looms.
Sparkling voices resound your childhood
song: fresh, exuberant, & tickling that off
spring wind marking a bulge in a boy's kite.