Two Poems from The Lyric (Fall 2020)

Here are two more of my poems published in Lyric poetry magazine. These are from the fall 2020 issue.


By Robert Crisell

Wherein resides the soul of art–

The head or hands or restless heart?

Is it Chopin, Flaubert, Magritte?

Is it graffiti on a street?

A verse or picture that instills

Our mind with awe, our flesh with chills,

Might be the work of journeymen,

But does it matter in the end?

No matter craft or messy muddle,

No matter blunt or super-subtle,

Our endless longing to create

Is spirit-sent, immaculate.


By Robert Crisell

The vacant plains of arctic poles

Are nothing to our desert souls

When inward springs that nourish us

Dissolve to dust. 

The dust entwines us, blinds our vision, 

Abandons us without provision,

Confounds our spirit, till at last

Our hearts are ash.

But in the end, our mortal sting

Is cured by sempiternal spring,

That stirs the blood and melts the frost,

Redeeming cost.

Be grateful for your days of mirth,

But gather grain in case of dearth

And water for a time of drought,

And bear it out. 

Six of My Poems Published in The Lyric Magazine

I haven’t updated this site in a while, but I thought I’d let you know that my poetry has been published in the last three issues of The Lyric (summer 2020, fall 2020 & spring 2021), a 100-year-old poetry journal out of Vermont. Sadly, the poems are only available in the hard copy magazine, not online. This is a link to their main website if you’d like to order a copy.

In the meantime, I’m going to reprint the six poems over the next three posts, beginning with my pieces from the summer 2020 issue. The poems from that issue are “Night Chorus” and “Father Fears.”


By Rob Crisell

Inside the fountain’s hedge, a thousand frogs

Flood midnight in infinite iambic song.

The heavy storms sowed them like dragon’s teeth. 

And now, slime-green soldiers leap from the soil

To flabbergast their enemies and lovers,

With juddering harmonies, resounding

Belches that rattle bedroom windowpanes, 

And chirps high-pitched enough to make dogs wince.

An apparition sweeps across the moon,

Alighting on the fountain, its wings spread wide.

All sounds cease as summoned silence, quickening

And rising out of the writhing earth, unwinds 

Its velvet limbs and mossy trunk, bestriding

House and garden, humankind and universe—

A god of night, a dream colossus, watchman.

A bullfrog’s bass note interrupts the spell. 

The spirit’s gone. The Earth erupts again.


By Rob Crisell

He takes up arms against his father’s reign;

Rejects the olive branch and seeks out wars. 

With marksman’s eye he conquers new terrain;

The friends he once held dear he now abhors. 

I give offense because I represent 

The foe he dreads he may or may not be.

Behind his walls he hurls his discontent.

He will define himself away from me.

But all my ships are burned—the siege goes on.

I scan the barricades for gaps or flaws;

Above the parapets I look for dawn;

I search for firelight through portcullis jaws. 

My father, too, laid siege on me for years.

His triumph soothes his grown son’s father fears. 

Performing the “Dagger speech” on Halloween with San Diego Museum of Art & SDSS

In October, I had the opportunity to be one of five actors chosen by the San Diego Shakespeare Society for this year’s Halloween-inspired Virtual SDMA+ performance, which combines art from the San Diego Museum of Art’s collection and spooky poetry and selections from William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” “Othello,” and “The Tempest.” My monologue begins at the 8:30 mark…