For No Good Reason

As if you needed one,
as if you could help it,
for no good reason
a tune out of nowhere
pops into your head
when you least expect,
riffs effortlessly in the
folds of your cerebrum—

your own private jukebox,
your personal music device
on random minus the earbuds—
drumming itself up to keep
you company: here, a little
Janis Joplin while you vacuum
cat hair; there, a John Denver line
as you peel potatoes at the sink.

How can others not hear it,
this frequent odd gift?
Sometimes you forget
and blurt the words to the chorus,
which, after all, is all you can remember,
those take me home, country roads,
that feelin’ good was good enough
for me
, even conjuring

the gas station in Colorado
back where you, wearing
those bell bottoms and that
paisley, were about to fill a tank
of freedom into the blue VW Bug
when Carole King belted out
and it's too late baby, now it's too late
though we really did try to make it

and you couldn’t move, couldn’t
quit sobbing to the steering wheel
that would not console those blues
or say what you had left to lose,
wouldn’t question why in hell
you were going down that road
where for no good reason
you seemed to be heading.

More by Twyla M. Hansen

Homestead National Monument

—Daniel Freeman, first to file claim, Jan. 1, 1863

Here, an abundance of trees, stream, prairie—
enough to sustain a family, prove up this plot of land,
the first of thousands to be claimed across America.

Place that was first inhabited by natives, lodge-
and tipi-dwellers, who also relied on the wood, water,
flourishing wild game—hooved, pawed, and winged.

Prairie, where wild grasses are capable of growing
taller than humans, sustained through heat, drought,
cold, hail, snow, wind, by roots of unimaginable depth.

Today, those lives and roots have been forever altered:
settlement, industry, and agriculture that marched
our nation westward, the trails that led us to homes.

This nation-center of sod-grass that was plowed,
its soils rich, yielding an abundance, the foundation
of farms and ranches that sustain the multitudes.

Here, on the Homestead trails, we touch a multitude
of seed-heads, inhale green-blue-gold, hear the music
of insect-leaf-bird, bridge the creek-flow that connects

us to the past, where we ponder the flow of hope,
hardship, joy, and sorrow of this preserve, from all
that once roamed, to those spellbound as we step.

The Other Woman

as I picture her
she has no basil
no cumin
no sun-hardened hyssop
nor sage around her eyes

she never catnips
but laughs comfrey
tansy with a primula smile

as I think of her
she's angelica
foxglove and jasmine
somewhat peppermint
not letting you see
all her saffron at once

one day I’ll meet her
that rue woman
that wild indigo teasel
somewhere neutral
free of woodruff and of dropwort
some summer savory

she's the nose
set to lavender
eye full of sesame
ear ringing rosemary

she's wind
through wild thyme

Sorting

Picture him amid the rust—hand tools, jars of screws,
bolts, half-useful wrenches—assembling miniature farm
wagons, windmills, trains, as if one day he would return.

And return he does—in the various and sundry nails,
boxes of brads, wood scraps, lengths of wire thick
with dust—as the waste not want not farmer.

Which fills you with regret: not spending more time,
not listening, not facing what you could not save.

Now, you empty the pegboard of worn saw blades,
the calendar with pig photos and corny quotes, toss
handles, staples, hinges, caulk, tape, string, metal, and

weep, knowing this is as close as you will ever be to him,
his world reduced to tinkering alone down in this city cave,
touching what his rough hands touched, his curiosities,

your father under a bare bulb sawing pieces of his last
unfinished project, a sea-faring ship, its instructions and
pattern carefully numbered and folded—the glued, carved,

and sanded basswood—as if he sensed this full-blown
final creation might help him sail across that ancient sea.