poem index


Twyla M. Hansen

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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)

by this poet


When you leave it will be empty:
dried leaves on gray-haired limbs,
clumps of gooseberry minus the berries.

Tracks across frozen water will lead
to a frigid channel,
springs seeping away from the source,
snow-covered hills reminding us
of the rolling, frozen sea.

The sun,


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


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,