Excerpts of “What the Lizard Said”: Written by Nels Hanson

Author Bio: Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher, and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 12, and for 2014. Stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, and other journals. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Heavy Feather Review, Pavilion, and other magazines, and are in press at Pacific Review, Mad Hatter’s Review, and Sharkpack Review Annual. Poems in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.


Please don’t complain about my slime,

As if it were some awful crime

To make a trail both long and slick—

A single foot requires a trick

For walking home from leaf or stalk.

I’m tired that others talk and talk

About the snail’s too sticky track

And don’t perceive it is a lack

Of other feet that make me slip

Along a slide on every trip.

It’s hard, it really is a chore

To use one foot and not one more.

So when my feelers droop and sway

It’s time to put them both away

Inside the shell that is my boot,

The place I go to hide my foot

When angry neighbors shake their fists

At where my slippery foot has kissed.

But look! the silver streak’s a word

You’ve never read nor ever heard:

“Permit a single-footed friend

To pass by here and come again

Along the only road he knows,

On shiny foot he never chose.”


My life is opposite from yours—

I hang from ceilings, not from floors,

And sleep all day, wake up at night

With different eyes not made for sight.

Upside down in barn or cave

I count the blessings darkness gave:

A mask, and silence, open air,

And flying things a bat can snare

When quicker than a meadowlark

Radar guides me through the dark.

My cupped ears receive the news

And from the different sounds I choose

A single beat to chase with skill

Until the insect’s heart is still.

My eyes are ears, I hear my fate,

It’s the way I navigate:

I never really clearly see

What was or is or soon will be.

But who exists that has such sight?

My kite-like wings embrace the night.

Nels Hanson, What the Lizard Said


2 thoughts on “Excerpts of “What the Lizard Said”: Written by Nels Hanson

  1. The poems are from an unpublished book by Nels Hanson, WHAT THE LIZARD SAID. The cover (shown) and all other illustrations are by artist Mandana Talieh.

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