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.
THE SNAIL DEFENDS HIMSELF
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.”
WHY THE BAT IS CALM
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.