July 25th, 2014

by Nels Hanson

Try not to smoke more deadly
cigarettes tonight, second pack
today, because the 200th child
was blown to particles in Gaza
by guided missile, mother with
five children uncovered alive,
lone survivor among 20 family
members buried in the rubble,
dead as stone. Don’t drink more
beer because four boys kicking
a soccer ball were changed like
that to a million pieces, sunny
beach where bluest waves still
break like clockwork, regular
as artillery fire. Don’t consume
kitchen bare because old Arab
women and men who followed
neighbors to a school or shelter,
hospital, burst outward, random
shrapnel of flesh. No, pray again
to Wovoka, Paiute Ghost Dancer
who ended in a circus sideshow,
Jesus on the cross a stone’s throw
in Jerusalem, between we’re told
the Good Thief and the Bad, and
Martin Luther King shot standing
on balcony of the cheap motel in
Memphis half a century ago, day
my aunt had her first mastectomy.
Say your silent prayers for peace,
try sleep without rising ten times
for water, aspirin to keep my head
from throbbing like tom-tom of a
murdered Cherokee chief holding
beat my heart can’t follow surely
with a hope that matters anymore.

Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

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 2014. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review and other magazines and received Sharkpack Review Annual’s 2014 Prospero Prize and a 2014 Pushcart nomination.