Dear Friends,

On the eve of the birth of our daughter and the beginning of my fiftieth year I have gathered a selection of my poetry from the last twenty-five years into a celebration/book called THE SEASONS. These poems, as the title suggests, are loosely gathered around an architecture of the seasons. I began writing them in 1989, the year that I moved to Omaha to help start the Blue Barn, and they have been a kind of ever expanding love letter since that time.

Matt Mason, Executive Director of the Nebraska Writers Collective (and kind man that he is), had this to say about the collection:

“THE SEASONS is a collection of meditations on home, heart, and the world we watch from a window in our geocentric universes, trying to figure out these planets and suns in orbit around us. Each season passes thoughtfully and wonderfully, with a splash of wisdom and a fine-tuned eye for joy."

I am excited to share this book with you and grateful to everyone who has read and responded to the poems over the years. I will continue the tradition of posting my new work here and in twenty-five years (or less) I will have book number two, poems inspired by family life, ready for you.




The Tall Grass Futures

I am driving across
the comb-over
of the prairie

up to the north
where the stars 
are less pretentious

though on a still night
a mirror universe
will sometimes
burn its way across
the black skin
of the lakes.

At the truck stop
all the strangers 
are familiar.
The rain
the children
the diner,
all familiar.
Our drop ceilinged
fluorescent lit
discount America.

Back on the road
in the belly of the storm
halfway between 
here and there
I scan the radio
for the farm report.
Nothing but the occasional
sound of lightening
and the wipers rhythm
in the curtains of static.
Or is something else there?

Finally, from some 
distant planet,
a young woman
with the voice 
of tall grass
reads the futures
of the wet earth.

I’m driving to see my father
in his apartment
above the interstate

with an almost view
of the stone brown river.

He is alone 
for the first time
in eighty-seven years.

Eating frozen dinners.
(All my mother’s spices

Attending Mass
as often as he can.

As gentle as
a step-wide stream
surrounded by a thousand
miles of prairie grass.

His prayers 
are the falling leaves
in the north.

They’re the cars
with exhausted
people inside.

They’re the water
that moves underneath
the fields.

His prayers
are our bodies
and the years
and the stars

still here
but fading
as they move
into the distance.



So the walnut dropped 
early to the earth
with a bruised green skin.
What a life this is.

The hard shell underneath
smells like the hull 
of a wooden ship
on the pitch dark sea.

My watch, ever faithful,
tells me it’s the end
of the sleepless night, 
but I know better.

The bulk of the world
are finishing their work
in the fading light 
of an endless day.

Lulu, our poodle,
who is 105 years old
stumbles coming down 
the creaky wooden steps.

She lies beside me 
waiting patiently.
The pack shouldn't be 
apart this late at night.

A nut,
a ship,
a watch,
a dog.

The fall is fast approaching.
Maybe it’s already here.
Even the farm kids 
are back in school

twisting in their desks
watching the sun run wild
through giant clouds
above the tiny schoolyard.

Here at the kitchen table
the night watches me do nothing
as if I’m a reality TV show -
Will a Poem Happen Tonight?!

The heater clicks on
in the subconscious of the house 
and warm streams of air 
rush up through the lath.

Back on the other side
they’re wrapping up for the day
having a bite to eat
and getting ready for bed.

Over here the east is beginning to tint
so I rise and wind the planet’s spring
with the small brass wheel
in the cabinet behind the fridge.

And so we’re good 
for a few more days
of slow tilt and spin
the final notes of summer.

Maybe now I can close my eyes
before leaving for work
and spend a few minutes 
back on the storied ship

where my family has been sailing 
wrapped in each other's arms
with a wind of soft breaths
all along the coast of night.



Here is the clothes line filled 
with the favorite sweaters
of the dead (that we love)
all waving to the window
as instructed by the the wind.

Thank goodness I was frozen 
there before the glass
lost in the tiny kitchen
with a spoon in my hand.



In April I watched my daughter
struggle to take her first breath of air

in May I watched my mother
struggle to take her last

all the while the spring rains
fell across the rolling earth.

Now it is August and the museum 
of days deepens into red.

My father eats dinner alone by the window
watching the northern clouds burn
as they sail into the night.

Remember swimming out
to the far dock for the first time?

If you grow too tired
you can float on your back and rest.

We are building a fort in the thicket
of love called family.

We are swimming out together
across the lake of time.


The Crickets

The crickets
are back
from the northern 
meadows of time.

Back down to our
hairy prairie land
of high summer
just in time
to save my sorry ass
with their dark 
green chorus
in the cool
night air.

The eerie
fibrous music
circling in the moonless
air reminds me
of where I left my joy
and just like that
it’s back 
old friend 
by my side
on the back steps
where I am sitting
with a cigarette
in the middle of this 
holy night
along the crooked
road of time.

I don’t smoke.
That’s why the cigarette
is in the poem
and in my hand
in the darkness
in the backyard.
Drastic measures 
have been taken
with the confluence
of sadness and loss
of struggle and pain
the bloody 
crush of love 

mostly of love
with its carefully 
laid out garden
overtaken by weeds
thick and twisted,
wild and alive
they sting
leave a rash
wrap around 
the body
and hold on tight
then flower
with nectar
and the bees 
tumble by
humming their 
yellow prayers.


urine soaked
with the iron will
and vicious genius
to find the deepest
the oldest veins
of pain and dig
into them
o drill     
o needle
o fiery lash
of lightening

that love

Love love.

I stand and walk
into the back yard.
There's the dipper
quietly flashing
in the black
while balancing on
the sagging roof line
of our beautiful 
old, tiny 

Seeing that I am
no longer blind 
the trees crowd in.
They lean over me
these giants of time
on the move again

and I can see

I can see 
the thick
of this fleeting
love filled life.


thirty birds

                                       for jenny

so grateful
to feel
these waves
of love
the shores
of time

while our 
tiny days 
are caught
in the wind




the poetry of Kevin Lawler

The gift economy . . .
from Wiki - In anthropology and the social sciences, a gift economy is a mode of exchange where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. Ideally, voluntary and recurring gift exchange circulates and redistributes wealth throughout a community, and serves to build societal ties and obligations.