The Toll

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.

The Toll

Into coral fire, the volcano’s
round mouth, new hole in
pack ice, salt waiting sea’s
shipwrecks, up whirlwind’s
spout to tornado its father,
down the lightless warming
shaft until Earth’s liquid iron
core, falling miles of frozen
air from Everest, split rope
the cut umbilical, a different
episode begins best viewed on
the dark side of our moon or
Pluto’s largest moon named
Charon after lone bearer of
the dead, blue skiff crossing
black Acheron even as your
coin wobbles, tips facedown
first time, last time your eyes
wear old pennies for the fare.

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