Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California 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.


Weekdays the ghosts of revenuers
search the ghost of my grandfather’s
four-room farmhouse on Road 384

for a trapdoor to the cellar. Again
his bending ghost in overalls distills
whiskey from purple raisins, brews

dark beer, brown bottles hidden in
white dairy barn’s cool stacked bales
of hay, a cold surprise while feeding

cream-colored Jerseys. Each Sunday
Irish in-laws once well-to-do arrived
for chicken dinner until my father’s

red rooster fell with last hens. City
men in suits stood outside in a circle
passing the clay jug of strong sweet

liquor Armenians call Rocki, then
back to Fresno in the blue Packard,
last vestige of vanished wealth. One

time the long car stopped three times
in 30 miles, so the drunken relatives
could get out on the gravel shoulder

to fight, cry, make up and hug, drive
on before the next argument wafting
high-proof and hot to sting the eyes

of sober Depression wives. The fried
chicken my father wouldn’t touch
was eaten, flowered dishes washed,

put away, my grandfather in changed
clothes milking 13 cows as the sleepy
agents snored in cloth 1930 recliners.

2 thoughts on “Sundays

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