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 Goddess of Whores by Jenny Heineman

There is 
a red ribbon
of liquid
so quickly
just behind 
your head.

Or is it 
a bolide
in the back 
of your head?

You can’t see it
but there it is.

Love now
as if it were 
the only food,

as if you 
are falling 
and love 
is a rope.

A tiny 
red river
of fire


going . . .


The Dishes

There is a window 
over the sink
that holds
a hundred years 
of nights.

In the winter I see
the neighbor’s windows 
glowing through 
black branches.

In the summer
there is a green cloud
of leaves cascading upward
with fireflies weaving 
their golden threads
in the leaves.

and cicadas 

Laughter and 
hidden sadness 
in the unwashed

I see myself 
from outside
in the dark.
There I am 
in the glowing
head down
moving slowly.

I have been 
blessed with 
so many meals
from loving hands.

Now I send 
them back out
into the world
the way my grandmothers
and my mother did.

Each fork and glass.
One at a time.
Some nights 
impossible to lift.

The stars 
looking down
as they drift 
and burn.

Oh yes.
The burning.
is changing.
How do I keep
forgetting that?

And the others
who stood 
in this place
and the ones
who will stand
here after.

I have not
been writing 
much because 
love has 
asked me 
for other things.

in the small 
hours when 
the day is done
or before 
it begins

my hands move 
as they have 
ever since 
I can remember.


Black sky

The storm 
passed over
and headed out 
across Iowa.

Since it is sunset
in the east
is illuminated 
against the black.

The glowing 
green tops 
of trees 
and white peaks
of roofs


It has been 
a year since 
my mother died.

I watch 
my daughter
and wonder 
if time
might move 
in circles
like everything else.

Vast arcs.

There are
old windows
on the prairie
that are filled 

only with stars 
and the unbounded sky.


The Storms

The storm rolls 
across the bed
three rolls 
then a sit up
dazed and lost 
and upset
then collapses 
in a dead fall
arms splayed
feet splayed
and out cold.

At four I am up 
changing a diaper.
I pull off her lion 
tights that say 
“super cutey”
on the back 
making me wonder 
what hands
from far 
away places 
made this clothing
gifted to us 
so kindly
but likely sewn 
by shaking hands.

I hand them to the storm
and she looks at me
with an expressionless 
expression and tosses them 
onto the floor.
I pick them up 
and hand them back
and she throws them 
down again.
I pick them up 
and toss them 
on her face 
she pulls them off 
giggling in the darkness
and throws them down.

When I finally hand 
her off to her mother
who rolls her back 
into the nest
Lulu the dog decides 
that it’s time to go 
out for a pee
so we creak our 
way down the stairs 
and out into the dying edge 
of the wild storm.

Poop happens
but it doesn't go 
as well as hoped for.
I bring the elder in 
and clean her ass 
with baby wipes.
And this is life
cleaning one ass 
after another 
in the middle 
of the tumbling night.

Once everyone 
is settled 
back on the raft 
and sleeping soundly
I find that I am wide awake.

washing the dishes 
a small spider 
rappels down 
from the front 
of my cumulonimbus 
hair and stops 
at eye level 
for a moment
before seeing 
my expression of fear 
and quickly dropping 
to the slanting floor. 

And the lightening 
carries on
with its instant
where to burn 
by some fiery
unknown calculus.

Upstairs I look 
in the mirror 
and remember
that I had forgotten 
to remember 
that life cannot 
be controlled.
It comes back to me
like a long lost map
of relief.

All the next day 
thunder storms 
drift over the city
like alcoholics 
after hours
stumbling along 
the black streets.

Somehow a sunset 
happens through 
towering clouds
and a fragile
golden light 
stretches across 
the upper reaches
of what we know.

we know more.
We know about dark matter
and cancer and market drift.
We know about systems
to channel energy.
Managing loss.
Systems like gauze
for unstoppable wounds.

Another night
another storm 
moves in.
Back in bed
in the raft
all is quiet
all is dreams.
These people
that I love
have gone 
without me.
I watch them
in wonder.
Each one 
a horizon
lying on her side
like horizons do
slowly breathing
rolling over 

I am trying
as I watch them
but I cannot
stop time
before I have to 
leave for work.

The storm fights 
through the south
rumble rumble
or is it the west
rumble rumble?

Far below 
our toy houses 
the almost 
empty giant
in the dark
and waits
for water.

More storms 
are coming.
The spring

I cannot forget 
to remember.


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.