Lance Hawvermale’s poetry has appeared in Mid-America Review, Crosstimbers, ByLine, The Same, and other print journals. In 2006, his collection Old Codes was named Best Poetry Book by the Oklahoma Writers Federation.
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.
I bought fresh saliva
in a jar; I bought gypsum
dust to dry my hands;
I bought a belt buckle
and polished it raw
to signal passing planes.
What more do I need?
This isn’t Chernobyl.
This isn’t a school fire
or church service where
strangers speak in tongues.
Still, I carve my canoe
with porcelain hands,
anticipating the sea.
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.
The Route to Water
He climbs the ladder in time-lapse
uncertainty, pausing on each slip-
resistant rung, no less thoughtful
than Newton contemplating velocity.
His trunks drip as he ascends,
goosebumps rise as Braille along
his shoulders, looking for a father
to read his fear by touch. Yet
he continues alone, as we all must
continue, and then crests the long
blue gangplank that juts
like an exclamation mark across
this paragraph of his nine mighty years.
He advances, little monk with clenched
fists, then pauses on the edge of the
world. No one knows what happens next.
In his heart is he sailing, leaping,
or is he retreating to locate
a less acrobatic route to water?
He will never understand or say
but at some point he bends his knees.