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Nels Hanson


Nels Hanson grew up on a small raisin and tree fruit farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, earned degrees from U.C. Santa Cruz and the U of Montana, 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. He lives with his wife, Vicki, on California’s Central Coast.


I think sometimes someday I’ll
shed the mask, cape, tall boots,
black tights, armored tunic etched
with animal, trade the heavy belt
at surplus store for kind carpenters
put on, linemen who climb towers.
In daylight in red t-shirt, corduroys,
tennis shoes with thick cushioned
soles, I’ll warn, lower the hammer
once on knuckles of few admiring
only force, still magic in this arm.
I’ll dress in ivory, a simple shroud
men or women in Muslim countries
choose to stand for Justice and later
on streets on market day everyone
steps back for a dead one walking.
Tonight when shrill alarms go off
I won’t don my part for worshipers,
no jet-car in secret cave, searchlight
with silhouette of wings demanding
help but half moon above a stranger
in same frayed suit who choked on
Evil and walks alone since years ago
lightning rained from blue sky, gold
zigzags burned him into who I am.

Eastern Star

First light in the east in this purple
fading black, star on fire or freezing
planet mirroring fallen Sun, I don’t

know your name and soon like a lit
match against a blaze, a sugar grain
on table of spilled salt, your radiance

will dim among a trillion stars. West
of my roof gold Venus and Mercury
climb above the Pacific’s darkening

wave but these nights I look opposite
where a changing Moon arrives and
later the constant Sun, as a plant or

scaled thing with cold blood turns
for light. I found you without looking
for you, moments only green solitary

flame, your own or borrowed like
moon glow or the blue Earth shining
on an island in the Lake of Dreams.

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