What’s Wrong?

By Nels Frank Hanson

First I asked the doves
what was wrong and they
only answered mournfully.

Next I tried to question
the gray foxes but scenting
my human smell they ran

far into the hills. My whistle
to a mockingbird received no
response, her warning song

to other mockingbirds. So I 
approached the rooted walnut 
tree. Green leaves flickered

just once before holding still 
as stone. Finally I visited 
the worms, received same

mute reply, too busy sifting 
dead for resurrection. Sky 
said nothing, no whisper

from a single cloud. Water
flowing to the bay wouldn’t 
pause a second and of course

the ancient rain repeated its 
one excuse. All books kept to 
their own story, white pages

with black lines like waves
indentured to an unchanging 
moon. Why a world refused

to say why men do the things 
they do is a different question 
I’ll remember if I ask again


Nels Hanson grew up on a small raisin and tree fruit farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, earned degrees from U.C. Santa Cruz and the U of Montana, and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations. He lives with his wife Vicki on California’s Central Coast.