Guest Poet Twyla M. Hansen: Work

Twyla M. Hansen Twyla M. Hansen

We had the good fortune to meet Twyla M. Hansen, the Nebraska State Poet Laureate.  While Hansen is a renown poet, and has published over a dozen books and anthologies, she also has a background in agriculture and horticulture.  Not only was she raised by a farming family, she also received a master's degree in agroecology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and worked as the grounds manager and arboretum curator at Nebraska Wesleyan University.  She currently lives and works in Lincoln, where her wooded acre is maintained as an urban wildlife habitat and was recognized in 1994 by the Mayor’s Landscape Conservation Award.  Her poetry struck us as hitting a harmony between the beauty of ecology and the science of agriculture, so we are thrilled that she is willing to let us post some of her poems on our website.  This is our second of three installments of poetry by Hansen, so check back for the next installment in September!

This second poem fits in perfectly with our recently published Pollinator Report.  Celebrate the bees!

Photo Credit: Andy Murray Photo Credit: Andy Murray


--The honeybee can fly nearly 5 billion miles

  on one gallon of honey. NPR news


On spring days you could hear it—

buzzing cloud back and forth between fencerow

and hives, over the rugosa roses and the field,

forty acres of clover with its billions of tiny blooms.


My father grinned as he opened a top, brushed aside

the bodies, pried out a frame oozing with sweetness,

my hands on the extractor handle sticky with the great

efficiency and substance of their labor.


Worker bees, like my farmer father, combed those fields

for a harvest of gold. Some years crop failure and bad luck

weather affected supply and yield. All that labor translated

into a meager existence, a tightening of the belts.


Worker bees kick out the drones to protect their winter food.

Back then, all we needed was whatever we raised, planted,

butchered and preserved. There were no guarantees.

We took care of the land; the land took care of us.


All honeybees need is pollen and nectar, an unspoiled spring-

fed creek, the occasional gentle hand to encourage them on.


© Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska State Poet

from Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (with Linda M. Hasselstrom (2011 The Backwaters Press)

2012 Winner, Nebraska Book Award, Nebraska Center for the Book

2012 Finalist, High Plains Books Award, Billings (MT) Parmly Library

2012 Finalist, WILLA Literary Award, Women Writing the West


honey, pollinators, organic farms, poetry, art, farms, pollen, nectar