Lance Hawvermale's poetry has appeared in Mid-America Review, Crosstimbers, ByLine, The Same and many other journals. In 2006, his collection titled Old Codes was named Best Poetry Book by the Oklahoma Writers Federation.
Below are a few of his latest poems.
If I were the Martian rover with silicon
marrow and fake fingernails of carbon
fiber then I would not cry on the toilet.
The search for tears on Mars has begun.
Never mind whose boot will first crimp
the sargasso soil or what wise crap
he’ll speak across sixteen minutes of
silent gulf to reach us, dying to cheer him.
Tell me instead who weeps the first
lava tears at the base of Olympus Mons,
whose eyes sting so much for a mom
60 million miles away and the shape
the falling drop makes in the rusty sand.
Or for a husband. Or even a lost dog.
Shut in my bathroom where it’s mostly
dark I can shudder with the force of them,
breathing sadness in lieu of air on shores
where being first matters more than love.
They asked me to teach Beginning
English on the seventh day of trapped
men in a mine. Cameras built like quarter-
mile snakes show only conveyor belts
and a red toolbag. The clearance is five
feet and the air like that in the nose
of a plane; the thinness and coldness
and alien darkness either terrify them
or crawl without sound over their teeth.
In four days the rescue will reach the captive
amber space, and I will offer the word
conjugate like the serpentine camera
through 400 meters of rock, both of us
blinking, peering, wanting only to be
transmitters of hope, middle-men
in someone’s desire simply to be seen.
The Field in May
Sometimes my dog comes back from death
quite less dramatically than it sounds,
chuffing through the green wheat of spring
and asking with brown eyes about summer.
I have no answer for her, just a smile and eager
hand to touch her head as she draws near.
My fingers close only on the unbronzed wheat
tossed by sudden breeze to reveal me alone,
searching for a single ripened stalk
swishing the field with obvious intent.
Before lead was poison
we cracked a John Deere
thermometer to watch
mercury run across the desk.
Darren liked the destruction
of glass, the escape
of something almost feral
from its shell.
Travis favored its science,
the secrets it vowed
to reveal of God and perhaps
in some way of girls.
But all I could see
was that alien motion,
a bullet with an ink trail
writing calligraphy too fast
to read; thirty years later
I want my blood like that,
water and weight, inscribing
molecules of me but always
while running away.
Yesterday she bought a bucket and filled it with nails
pulled from the hooves of horses that had died on her father’s farm.
They were not killed simultaneously, but ruined in vibrant
increments of affection, the big bay with cancer
groping for the lightswitch in the dark of its bones,
the pinto with the heart too small to support the Noah’s ark
of its ribcage, the appaloosa with a broken foot
and the subsequent bullet from Daddy’s gun. So many tears,
so many visits from the vet, so many motions of the forklift
as it hoisted the corpses to a blue tarp on the back of a truck.
She carries this payload in a pail she bought in town,
stopping at the roots of a sycamore in which her little brother
builds his Fort Apache. The tree overlooks the pasture, the mare’s
new colt testing gravity with legs hinged like uncertain scissors.
She hands the pail to her brother when he asks, and he makes
the nails part of his watchtower walls, standing guard over it all.