Loud fireworks’ falling sparks
hiss as they darken, turn to ash.
All swans know their V-shaped
wakes, ripples crossing mirrors

veiled in black when the prince
dies two centuries ago. Bogart’s
trail your tires give up to asphalt
led a detective to your hideaway:

He plants a porcelain green bird
you nearly stole the summer you
were 10 but raced straight home.
Schrodinger’s Cat in the locked

steel box always stalks a mouse
in the distant field until a doctor
turns the key and a tabby hurries
after an elusive scent, short gray

thread the tail etched in matted
grass. Silver coin in one closed
hand exists in both. The shy boy
chooses, potato chips at a corner

store grow light and start to rise
if oxygen could change to helium
in his balloon. A still vacant fist
remembers glories of lost wealth.

Nine last night the power went
out, a first match failed before
the candle’s wick caught fire,
a star blazed and disappeared

from the mountain’s powerful
telescope. This grows serious:
brave compass in an explorer’s
pocket thinks AWOL, the blue

needle spinning, tired of north,
until exposed to noon it forgets
the alibi and obeys, no charges
pending a double court martial.

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.