Poetry by Eric Stiefel

Read More: A brief interview with Eric Stiefel


Being carousel, caught carnage and glint,
rope taut around the dumb mechanical neck,
reconstructed, found effigy or calculating clone
ripped from the feedback loop, being motion
and then motionless strife, bloodied, the violence
promised in being blooded, chaos cleaved
by reports of radio snow, a mouth moving elsewhere,
threatening the end of the anthropocene,
the eventual silence I suffer before turning out
and gnashing forward, ruminant, the animal
I am therefore cunning as a swarm of flies thinking
deeply about the difficulty of knowing,
the cup overflowing, coated with murder, cursed,
as one becomes after a period of living,
until fugue, a season of mists, tendrils spilling into
the sepulcher, dirt-drowned before waking,
being made predator, indicted by my own devices,
bewitched, waking post-midnight, drawing
myself into fervor, then floating, being un-
enlightened, part-forgotten, the waves
of a blind sea curling in and encumbering back,
cloud-formed and listless.


Semper Augustus

I’m an archive of the vestigial impulse,
a shadow cast on vellum, white streaks
on a red background.  When I sleep, I dream
of the furnace turning inside me,
a catalog of 17th century watercolors depicting
the birth of some mania in the form
of the most expensive flowers in the world,
avaricious leaves and a long, brittle neck.
I’m loss.  I’m marrow and splinter, fallen
in the underbelly of a soft, dark
birdcage.  Gold bars suspended as if time
were a metronome trapped on the floor.
Uncanny, insignificant, and clever.  Don’t bother
asking what will become of us.


He Questioned Everything, Starting with the Pile of Balloons

left alone in a room for a scattered few days, the wallpaper
dulled to a dimension of color he hadn’t lived through yet,
which made him reminisce, possibly for the first time,
over the tyranny of everyday life
and the rigid curve
each morning presented in front of him, his body lingering on
while his spirit stumbled a few paces in front of him,
as if guiding his limbs through the dark or some cruel
copy of it
while the foxes bloodied their teeth half-buried
in shades of ochre and rust as the leaves began to melt
and the entire world became an ocean of something new,
somehow less stable than it was before,
as if the earth
had turned itself from his modular way of thinking
and taking a moment to himself wherever he could find it,
as if the quiet were a nest he’d built only to have it
swept away when he least expected it,
as if this constantly
changing constellation could act as a kind of omen
facing out toward the depths of the horizon before
it softened into a column of waves that he couldn’t quite see.

Subscribers can read all our publications by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all our publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today


Eric Stiefel is a graduate of the MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also served as junior fellow in poetry. Eric’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Menage, Communion, Action, Spectacle and elsewhere.

Read More: A brief interview with Eric Stiefel

Stiefel’s poems, “Roil;” “Semper Augustus;” and “He Questioned Everything, Starting with the Pile of Balloons,” were selected as first-place winner of the 2018 New Writer Awards (poetry).