New Species by Nels Hanson

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

The North Pole is melting and we’re
running out of ice. Polar bears are
drowning, the survivors mating

with dark grizzlies in the forest.
Do you know the anxious warble
mourning doves cry just as they

start to light, wing-tips nervously
fluttering, as if their song asks
permission to touch Earth again?

After long dreams of frantic flight
we wake and set one foot and then
the other on land, making sure it’s

solid so we won’t fall through.
Other mornings a nightmare of
blindness, suffocation — we sit up

choking with mouths of salmon or
shark, gill and eye clogged with tar.
Constant alarms like calls to prayer

and penance go unanswered. Still
we sense these transformations warn
of return, dire omens from a fallen

world like ours of misshapen things:
Half-horse, half-man, a Minotaur,
winged harpies, the girl named

Nemesis who changed into a goose
to flee attacking god? Zeus turned
quickly to rapacious swan and their

egg hatched perfect Helen of Troy —
Each day now is a long day, hours
on end at work building, building

beautiful strange descendants who
don’t care for superstition or faded
stories, panic or ask for water or air.



Nels Hanson’s fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart Prize nominations in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, Montreal Review, and other journals. His poems have appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Heavy Feather Review, Meadowlands Review, Ilanot Review and other magazines, and are in press at Pacific Review, Pavilion, Sharkpack Review Annual, and S/tick. Poems that appeared in Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine and in the Citron Review have been nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prizes.