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 Last Dance of the Trees

They only give 
us a moment 

with our churches
and our wars

holding their 
arms wide 

the sun

in each branch
a map of time

just long 

to shower us
with color

before they 
slowly retreat 

into the darker
halls of paradise.


Red Music

The notes come tumbling out of
the battered accordion of fall.
A dark red music
with the bodies of leaves
littering the streets.

My hands shake
thinking of my mother
as I change 
the hurricane’s diaper.

A catalogue arrives
selling the dream
of a well-manicured life.
with the patina 
of nature
in clever
and artful ways.
There are no humans 
in the photos.

Ants, bats, raccoons, spiders
cats, very bold squirrels
and fleas sneaking in
on the Trojan horse
of our geriatric poodle
have been guests in our home.

The sun continues
its pilgrimage
through the yard
only a darker yellow now
and even some orange.
I cannot remember a single day
when I have not stopped 
to read the book of time
on the light flying out
from its oceans of fire.

A barely perceived
inevitability creeps
into the news.
Didn’t I hear 
these stories 
several decades ago?

The hurricane arches
and kicks
and shits
and pounds
and eats
and eats
and eats
and screams
and giggles
and farts
and cries
and destroys 
and eats
everything in her path.
The nature 
of the universe

Love is such a sweet destruction.

She watches everything
with eyes as deep as the ocean.
She is voracious 
and tyrannical 
in her need to explore.
She is ten times smarter
than previous generations.

I assume it will be
ten times harder to live
but already
her heart 
is so full.

My father sends photos
from our early years.
He works each day
sorting through them.
They have a square
white border 
with tiny dates 
like 7- 65
and a fog
is slowly blooming
across their 
shiny surfaces.
There is always 
an underlying
narrative to the ones
that he sends.
A man of few words
his actions
are poems of love.

He laughs with joy
on the phone 
when I describe
the hurricane’s escapades.

The four small rooms
of our house are 
torn asunder
each day.
The scattered debris 
of exhaustion 
love and chaos.
The violent 
energy of our days 
as we fall 
through the light. 

Hang on friend
as we fall
ever deeper
through the beautiful 


Black Thatch

There is a black thatch of clouds
across the dome of the world this morning
except along the eastern edge
where a red snake
stretches and burns.

Walking through the dark
giant winds from the north
run across the prairie
and push me in the back.

Everyone is racing
in their metal cars 
as if they were cars
on a long gone
roller coaster called
The Roller Coaster
which is leaning and rusting
in the theme park of time.

Crosses with dirty plastic flowers
and faded photos in warped frames
and stuffed animals with dirt-matted fur
and deflated foil balloons
are all sinking along the roadside
as a thousand engines
fly past with their
smoky violent music.
Nobody knows who died.

Time is ending
but it’s taking its time.
The music of failure
is in the air.
Those who have made
survival a god
are hopelessly lost.

is running late.

Now the whole
sky is on fire!


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.


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.