I once asked my friend

When he could remember being happy.

He responded, “Back when I was poor.”

A woman in my church

Lost her husband to cancer,

And then her children to a fire a year later. 

She still attends worship every Sunday.

There’s a patient in the psychiatric ward I work at

Who sits at his window every day

Staring at the same tree.

He said his father lives in the branches.

I wonder what would happen

If someone went out with a rake

And knocked all the leaves down.

The weekend came and I found other concerns.

Now it is wishing

There was a cushion in this booth.



From lawn chairs and blankets,

On the roofs and hoods of automobiles,

They watch the soulless needles rise,

Racing to find heaven before the end.

Young children tremble

Deceived by the flash and trailing thunder.

The remains drift through the sky

Like the skeletons of spiders

Caught in a breeze.

A car alarm sounds from the dealership.

Birds take from trees and steeples.

Lost behind colored smoke

They search the strange storm for rest.

It isn’t long before the teens grow bored,

As fathers point out to those on their laps

The smiley faces and hearts, brief constellations.



The farther ones

Slivers of light

Fresh upon the sky

Make me think of portals

To other worlds,

Opened by the cut of an angel's wing.

Pretend you're a god and hold one

Between your thumb and finger

Like a needle against the sun.

Think of where they're going

And how you touched their lives

So delicately, they will never know.


Trapped in an Elevator

It is never that long until the batteries have died

And all they can do is guess the wait.

Courtesy will take its cue

And strangers will talk like friends

Returned from rehab clinics.

Lock them in a box where a man with special keys

Is not on the way

And they’ll agree to a corner in which to hold each other.

Perhaps it’s the dread of such a future

That causes them to smile

When passing each other on the sidewalk.

Or dying in a strange land years later

Where humans have no shame in robbing a body

Before it has stopped breathing.

Show them there is an end and they’ll

Forget what it means to kill for sustenance. 

And by then I’m sure our cities will have drowned,

Inhabited with monsters

Blindly luring food with the light of glassless lamps.

Above ground, those who were taught such a trick

Will eat each other;

And though it seems a terrible time

They’ll still walk side by side

Like children afraid to hold hands.


Copyright © 2014 Nicholas Kriefall


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