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About this poet

Twyla M. Hansen was raised in northeast Nebraska. She received a BS and an MAg from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Hansen is the author of several poetry collections, including Rock • Tree • Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017); Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011), which she cowrote with Linda M. Hasselstrom and which received the 2012 Nebraska Book Award and was a finalist for the 2012 High Plains Book Award and 2012 WILLA Literary Award; Potato Soup (The Backwaters Press, 2003), winner of the 2004 Nebraska Book Award; and In Our Very Bones (Slow Tempo Press, 1997).

In 2013, Hansen was selected as the Nebraska state poet, a position she will hold through 2018. She is also the recipient of a Mayor’s Landscape Conservation Award for her work creating an urban wildlife habitat. Hansen lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Selected Bibliography

Rock • Tree • Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017)
Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011)
Prairie Suite: A Celebration (Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, 2006)
Potato Soup (The Backwaters Press, 2003)
In Our Very Bones (Slow Tempo Press, 1997)
How to Live in the Heartland (Flatwater Editions, 1992)

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.

 From Rock * Tree * Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.

 From Rock * Tree * Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.

Twyla M. Hansen

Twyla M. Hansen is the author of several poetry collections, including Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011). She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

by this poet

poem

—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-

poem

Adult: I have trouble falling asleep at night.
Child: But don’t you close your eyes?

The art of sleep isn’t tough for those who have the gift—
they're puzzled at the rest of us with trouble in the night.

And during the day, that tumbling sensation, anxious,

poem

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