July 6, 2018

Three Poems by Nels Hanson: "Let's", "Care" and "Angels"

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.



Let’s hitch the tandem disk and break hard ground
between rows of Thompson Seedless vines. Let’s
hook spring tooth with trailing steel coil to blue

Ford tractor and fork and press earth fine as talcum.
Let’s steer furrower to dig twin ditches for Sierra
snowmelt, let thirsty vineyard drink. In winter let’s

prune orchard’s red sucker shoots and shape hand-
like hangers for summer harvest, thin green plums
for larger purple ones. Let’s shovel thieving Johnson

Grass a fool brought from Australia. Let’s watch sky
for hail pitting fruit and September rain to spoil grapes
drying in the sun. Let’s get up late and early to roll in

cigarettes brown paper trays from drenching southern
hurricanes. Let’s run raisins over the roaring shaker
into great boxes. Let’s rest in walnut’s shade, safe

from wind lean against barn wall to eat, from dirt
lift and taste the fallen bit of bread. Let’s wash at
evening, lie down to sleep before morning comes.


Dear Hearts unborn with wings
you tire enduring wounds you
can’t heal or fly from or relieve
with satisfactory respite though

like a robin you devote all your
span and all those hours new hurts
await your tolerance. Ah feathers,
it’s a long age to care, tall orchard

trees do grow weary, year by year
set fewer scarce flowers and fruit,
gradually, until limbs fall, hollow
trunk, dry heart, a basin brimming

after winter rains, kit fox’s bowl
of quiet water. For firewood aim
absently aslant the grain’s ringed
seasons, let smoky saw repeat old

same story, “So hard to care, not
to care,” before admitting a truth
coheres, how easily empty center
holds its emptiness, a transparent

eclipse, shadowed full moon of
waiting phases, door to mornings
awake in ghostly sleep, a womb,
round egg of air. A hearty blue

jay calls, sun through tail casting
dim blue light, but not one falcon
answers falconer as your own scent
returns, flavor of peach or plum or

Asian pear offering such sweetness
its savor wafts the January’s pruned
corridors and rouses bare branches
with Spring nectar of swelling buds.


Some say the angels come and go
like shafts of light through passing clouds,
occasionally leave a penny. Descend and
rise, they arrive then depart like thoughts

of something real but vague, lush trees
seen from a distance through a window,
wind-swept branches in their sway and return
and sway writing some message on the blue.

Once in a nightmare turned a blessing
from outer space invaders at last attacked,
small silver ships in dense formation,
thousands everywhere, numerous as stars.

“All resistance futile,” a sad voice spoke
as the human race acknowledged its certain
end, accepted final extinction. From each
craft now a shining silver ball fell to Earth,

bombs ready to explode. And then, height
of hopeless terror, each metal sphere pulled
back its hidden door of platinum skin
to reveal a single long white plume.

Nels Hanson

Total Pageviews