Whale of Stars by Michael Kriesel

Whale of Stars by Michael Kriesel

Reviews, Vol. 7.4, Dec. 2013
Sunnyoutside, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-934513-33-0
Saddle-stitched, 16 pp., $20
Review by Cynthia Reeser

In this slim, hand-stitched volume of thirteen three-line poems, poet Michael Kriesel evokes rich worlds. Some of these capture the interplay, the push and pull, of the natural world versus the created world, as with:

empty beer can
chip away the light

Some poems evoke hidden worlds:

door flies open
Miss September
barely hides me

In which we can imagine that Miss September, ironically, is the one who is usually hidden in her space on the back of the speaker’s door. Other worlds are hidden in plain sight:

empty lockers
the janitor sweeps
a red mitten

These are worlds rarely noticed. The trope of the unseen is evoked as if it is the author’s intention to reveal how small, how temporal, we all really are. Nature—vast nature, covering the earth—is so large in comparison to our own individual worlds, the things we create (like beer cans, posters), which ultimately become swallowed in the larger landscape. Where will the beer can end up, the poster of Miss September? In a landfill someday, surely. Where will we end up eventually, if not in the ground? As if to put a point on this, the following:

drinking with your ghosts
raccoons steal corn
as if no one’s there

Kriesel does a wonderful job with concision of language. Every word counts, and has to, thanks to the three-line form. And the poems evoke more than just what is immediately being described, which is what the most effective poets are able to achieve.

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