Native to Missouri, Nicholas Kriefall’s debut collection, Attic Pieces, was published in 2014 by Unsolicited Press. His poetry has appeared in Enizagam, The Conium Review, Barrow Street, The Ampersand Review, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow, The Healing Muse and The Spoon River Poetry Review, among other journals.


Aside from being a poet, he is also an artist whose paintings have been exhibited and represented by prestigious galleries in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis where he currently resides.


The Aquarium

Nicholas Kriefall

This space station at night
With its glowing windows
Into distant worlds
Houses only one mammal now.
He sweeps mashed popcorn
Down blue painted hallways,
The laughter and awe
Now silent as the schools
Darting back and forth
Watching his work.
Morays smile out from their holes.
The giant clam does nothing.
A girl had tugged on his coveralls
And asked if the sharks ever sleep.
He said he didn’t think so
Before her teacher called her away.
He stands now, broom raised,
Peering at the cavern mouth
Where the group of sharp tails
Rest like flags of surrender
Gathered by a victor.

Bird Watching

Nicholas Kriefall


In winter it is easy to spot the cardinal.

My brother once shot a woodpecker

After a friend’s dare.


He cried for it that night and learned the truth about death.

I wonder if my father had the same experience

As a boy.


The pile of frozen blue jays

Rests behind the tree that holds the rope swing.

He told us to keep it secret, even from our friends.


With the jays gone, my mother keeps an eye on the squirrels.

They are friendlier than the jay

Eating with two hands alongside the titmouse.


Miles above, buzzards circle like ashes.

They wait for my father

Who, for now, has put his rifle aside to eat his lunch.

Christmas in Hollywood

Nicholas Kriefall


It is a cold night, yet most of the actors

Are hoping for snow.

Stars move through the muddy sky,

Blinking like flash bulbs.

In a large dark house, lit by the moon

Suspended between two slender palms,

The kitchen glistens

With stainless steel appliances.

The dining room holds the darkness of a closet

And table set with plates of half-eaten food.

Even the lights on the tree are off.

Everything is coated in black and blue gloom,

But for the teal pool

And bathroom where a maid

Scrubs the claws of a priceless tub.

Christmas in Purgatory

Nicholas Kriefall


Midnight; the freeway is cluttered with traffic.

Drivers move methodically

Under a light snow.


The houses in the subdivision are dark,

But for one with a flicker at the window

Where the fireplace warms small hands

Or the tree has caught on fire. 


Nicholas Kriefall


The diver finds a pearl

Just as a king


On a piece of meat,

A farmer loses an arm

To his saw,

And a criminal

In his cell

Dreams of fire.


Nicholas Kriefall

A girl the papers will be talking about

Drifts down the river like a plastic bag,

Her nightgown fleeing up the bank.


The crack of a nun’s ruler

Still sends shivers down my spine.

Might be the old boys still hunting.


I have seen their cans half buried in the earth,

Their weathered signs

With gray, dimpled faces.


Not a man or footprint though,

Making me wonder if I’m that much gone,

Or have misplaced the cemetery.


This house has been long forgotten.

The dirt smell of a cellar

Crawls up my nose like a spider


As I play Russian roulette

With my grandfather,

Hoping he doesn’t lose again.