Crisler's poems online:






Curtis Crisler







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.