Dear Friends,

I have gathered a selection of my poetry from the last twenty-five years into a book called THE SEASONS. (You can preview or order the book here.)

I am grateful to everyone who has read and responded to the poems over the years. I will continue posting my new work here and in twenty-five years (or less) I will have book number two ready for you.




I remember the big one.
It was stacked
so high with
what needed
to be ignored
in order to survive
that the sky
would often
disappear for days
in the rush.

Far out 
on the plains
this little city
still feels
the ancient
body beneath
its streets.
There are
oneiric days
when the sky
is a deity
silent and slow
and I can breathe.



   Kids play area at a laundry-mat in South O

I am cleaning

          except the corners
               stained dark 
               and sweet 
          of mangled time

like someone 
has died.


Rest Area

Lying on the couch
awake since three
in the nursing home
with my dad
and all the other
saints of survival

I watch his skeletal 
frame disappearing 
into the pitch
dark bedroom.
Each shuffle step 
a psalm of frailty.

Eighty-nine year old
bones still moving.
Still holding him up 
in this weighted world.

On the drive home
I feel myself fading.
When I realize
that I can’t remember
the last few minutes
I pull off.

In the rest area
I sleep in the front seat
with the windows down.
The sun and wind flow in
along with the smell
of warm sweet grass.
When I wake 
I am lost in the world
for a wonderful moment.

I climb out of the car 
and slowly walk the perimeter
of the picnic area.
There are no people.
Just a lone semi
parked by the edge
of a corn field.
A driver named Winkle
may have been sleeping 
in its cab for fifty years.

I find a curved hiking path 
mowed into the waist high 
“restored prairie”.
It’s surrounded by wildflowers
and tall, brown grasses.

Fifty yards out
there is a sculpture.
A boat with no skin,
only broken ribs.
A plaque explains that it is
symbolic of the Viking explorers.
It has been surrounded 
with a fence so 
no one will touch it
or get too close.

I watch the fall bloom
golden rod and more
rocking back and forth
on the moist wind
coming up from the south.

Monarchs go tumbling by
diving again and again
into the wind
fighting their way
across North America
on paper wings.

Off in the distance
the windmill giants are
waving their arms at something
beyond the horizon.

The earth is tilting.

I think of my father.
No longer able to kneel and pray.
He lies on his back in bed
and prays for the world.
He sleeps and prays.

He has fought 
the wolves of loneliness.
He was wounded but now 
they lie quietly by his side.
He lies quietly by their side.

When I am with him
(and even when I am not) 
I feel his grace.
It gives welcome weight
to the ballast that’s needed
in this storm of days.

Back in the wild field
an old fence post holds
a twisted strand of wire.
It sings so softly with the wind
that it can hardly be heard.
It sounds like the ghost 
of a drowned woman 
calling from far 
beneath the water.

I am in love 
with these quiet things
that have nothing 
to do with survival.
I stand in the field 
listening to this sad music
and watch as a long 
spine of clouds
slowly bends itself
over the ancient world.


the waves

Each summer
paints another brush
stroke down
the giant’s back.
A canvas of dark gold 
with blood running

The old day floats
its red hair in
the rising tide of night                     
takes a breath
and disappears
in the down below.

I drift away
from a dream of a life
in my dead Aunt Mitza’s 
96 rust Honda.

Failure and the stars
bloom in the black
iris of night.

Sweltering today
it was my turn
to sit in the car
on a side street
in the shade
because I did not want 
to go home to what
was once home
while missing home 
beyond reckoning

and without moving a hair
I was carried
on waves of sadness
out past the past
with its tinted colors
and the future
with its cool morning air
and into the open water
of the present.

          Once, deep in the wilderness, I lost my bearings. I knew where I was in the wilderness. I lost my bearings of identity. It's happened many times. It’s one of the reasons that I go there when I can. On this particular trip there was an afternoon after a day of paddling and portaging that I stripped off my salt stained clothes and carefully waded out over the sharp granite rocks that had been there for thousands of years until I could safely launch forward and glide out into the dark water so cold that it made me breathe quick dollops of air as if I was running or making love. I swam away from the tiny island. No people, no cabins, no boats, no electricity, no roads, no society. Just wilderness. Surrounded, cocooned, for days by wild forests and lakes. Moon, wolf, fish, bear, water, granite, pine, birch, sun, clouds, waves, wind, fire, flower, eagle, night, day. I turned over on my back and lie among the waves. The sun warming my face, chest, cock, and legs; the lake below making my skull, back, ass and legs shiver. The only sound was the wind and the tiny music of the waves lipping by. Over the heavy days of passage back into this wild place my identities had been slowly melting away and as they did I felt more and more of the wilderness until eventually there was so little of me left that a great quietness was able to grow in the space where all those other me(s) used to live.

Now I am soaked
in sadness and sweat
in the car
on the side street.

Now it is night
and I am driving away.

Now this prairie city
with its ten thousand roads
is a sacred ground
for the passage of our lives.

Now I am eating alone
while the sun disappears.

Now I am lying in bed
with fear by my side.

Now I am writing
this as a prayer
to the great 
quietness inside
which lets me see
everything more clearly. 

Now I am lifting my daughter
high into the air.

We are spinning
like the universe
as she laughs and laughs.




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.