Last Days of Uncle Arnold (a poem series)

By on Jul 16, 2017 in Poetry

Nebraska farm with red barn and rays of heavenly light
I see you
perched on a 
Nebraska hay bale  
communing with
your delirium
while all around  
the rolling
Sand Hills
gently beckon
to one 
whose life 
was lived
among them.
these Sand Hills, this ranch,
home for far-journeying winds, 
sandhill cranes and willful, way-
ward nieces and nephews
Nebraska hayfield
brother, cousins, uncle and
grandma’s dinner bell
our rancher uncle
as the cancer advances
I drive the pickup
on a last outdoor errand
checking on his newborn calves
everyone, a neighbor
born in the heart of 
these Sand Hills 
this remote ranch  
homesteaded by our 
Danish grandparents 
life as cattleman and
beloved uncle, sturdy 
friend of neighbors, 
surrounded by all 
who loved him
as his lifespan ends
Uncle Arnold, you 
were what poetry is


as twilight finds my chest
white sand, wetlands, and
rolling green hills beckon
walking among memories
on grandfather’s homestead, 
a catalogue of ranch-land,
hay, cattle, horses and
everyday interactions, of
uncle, relatives, memories 
that sing. . .  and, yes, 
I will come, crossing my 
old and worn boundaries
exhaling peace.


ayaz daryl nielsen was born in Valentine, Nebraska, attended schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Monterrey, Mexico, has lived in Bonn, Germany, and now lives in Longmont, Colorado, with beloved wife Judith. A veteran, former hospice nurse, ex-roughneck (as on oil rigs), he has been editor of the print publication bear creek haiku for 25+ years and over 135 issues. ayaz can be found online at bear creek haiku - poetry, poems and info. His poetry, published worldwide, includes senryu chosen in 2010 and 2012 as "best of year" by the Irish Haiku Association, and, with other deeply appreciated honors, is especially delighted by the depth and quality of poets worldwide whose poems have found homes in bear creek haiku’s print and online presence.