Follow Me On
The Woman in White Marble

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Follow Me On


Poetry by James Lawer


Can Wind that Coarsely Sweeps the Soil

Can wind that coarsely sweeps the soil
Then brush away life's toll?
Can rolling winds dissolve our skin
And clean away our soul?
            We see our last horizon dawn
            Like gold upon the farthest reach,
            Our fading mem'ries whispered there
            From wren's nest on the ledge.

A silver bell rings near the well
Where travelers quench their thirst,
The mist of spirits gath'ring there
Drink death and their rebirth
            Our footfall on the barley fields
            Roots all our trust to there reside
            For this our land has surely been
            Our husband and our bride.

            We hear the beckoning humble tunes
            Now cradling soft in shadow's hand
            A comfort where we'll lay our head
            And pass into the land.

My lover sits beside my grave
Wherein my body lies
He listens for my bones to sing
For surely songs shall rise.
            He hears the wistful haunting songs
            My bones had learned before I died
            So I might sing and comfort him

            With wonder when he dies.

Copyright 2015 James Lawer


I’m Looking on the Bright and Open Sea

I’m looking on the bright and open sea
Through the mist and morning glare,
I am searching for that rumor
Of the ships come sailing near.

For the ghosts of old invaders
Drift at large upon the waves;
I have dug through thousand bodies
Just to reach their bedrock graves.

And the years get worn and weary
While our time moves steadfast on,
But the stones continue speaking
‘Til the day is soft and done.

Then I’ll sleep beside the hay field
So to feel the northern wind,
And I’ll dream my family’s wandering
Since the world was first begun.

(Lyrics for a melody yet to be written:)

Copyright © 2014 James Lawer


Song of First Frost

Night lace            Dawn’s face

Beard of the North

Sharp horn           Deep thorn

Spear of the Earth


Grass Breaker      Breath Taker

Guardian of stealth

Chill Maker                    Bone Shaker

Harvester of health


          Lean your torso     pressed into brown moss     dead on the tree:
            The ferocious alban lion      brave       overwhelming wave
            Smells your numb repose     Leave off words      to your secret counsel flee
            His breath is a keen blade     he swears in mists     stealing gaps of teeth


Black thaw           Scratch raw

Whiskers of light

White day            Frost way

Sharp grip and bite

Copyright © 2014 James Lawer


Mountain Song Has a Path to the Snows

Mountain song has a path to the snows
High over ice floes
Birds in hollows below
Warning in the leafy surround

Up here is peace
After you grunt through
Storms and streams
To this cabin at the peak

Snow otters greet you around your feet
White goose carries food to table
Snow owl harvests herbs with its beak
Sunrise glistens on the beams

Now I am singing
I am saying
Many tears water the climb
To the summit
And the dead lie scattered
Frozen in the crevasses

Copyright © 2014 James Lawer


Dumping Grounds

Where are you?
Why are we so much this way?
Why are we floating in rivers of our own blood?

The sky is blue
There is water over there
I am walking barefoot in thorns

This place of extinction
Dumping grounds
Embracing love and forgiveness
Our dark history

Shall I deny my truth?
Shall I bury my heart in the sand?
Shall I throw my children in the river
            to save them from the coming horrors?
Shall I hold my perpetrators to the mirror?

What inner reserve incites scaling
These nightly wails
Peeling flakes from screams shot to the stars
No balm for shredded fingernails
Clawing at weeping rainbows

Here is my voice:
            Crawling up the mountain of my heart, removing silence.
Here is my song:
            Lowering into the well of my love, gripping tools of hope
            Scraping the mold off our dark history.
Here is my resilience:
            Lighting a raging fire among the timbers of my compassion.

 My limbs may be shackled by grieving
Pursued by sniffing hounds of tradition
But my mind is awake for leaving
Indestructible under pounding hooves
And I can sing
And I shall sing
Into your ears
Wherever you are.

Copyright © 2014 James Lawer


Don’t Be Afraid of the Horses

To My Grandson of Mixed Heritages:
Don’t Be Afraid of the Horses

Don’t be afraid of my ancient British horses
Heads flying down-scooped into the winds,
Black manes on fire screaming over the hills,
Flashing eyes under long, dark lashes
Keeping off the dust from their sight
As they pound the earth
Into your stomach, into your boiling blood.

They carry wrestled medicines on their backs,
Leather pouches full of lightning,
Owl talons, hawk feathers, apples and hazel nuts
All for dancing in your bright veins—
Our ancestors’ council weaving long threads
Into mossy British forests and wild plains
Because you, too, are wild and intrepid.

Stout legged beasts, they are,
Leaping on hilltops, prancing animal warriors
Rushing in to set up wallows in your heart,
Circling into your mind on prideful hooves
Hosting bronze and leather shields of men.
Don’t be afraid of the horses, my young son,
Bringing you home to roots and mud.


Copyright © James Lawer


Lyrics for "The Tide That Washes Clean the Shore"

The tide that washes clean the shore
Will scour and clean life's toll
The rolling waves dissolve my skin
And wash away my soul.
I see the last horizon dawn
As gold on mountain's blackest ridge
The singing of my journey heard
In wren's nest on the ledge.

A distant bell rings near the well
Where water eases thirst
The earth wraps me in moistest prayer
Of death and my rebirth.
*  My footfall on the mustard fields
Implants my trust to there reside
For this my land has surely been
My husband and my bride.
*  I hear the quiet humming tunes
That lay their notes in shadow's hand
A pillow where I'll lay my head
And pass into the land.

My lover sits beside my grave
Wherein my body lies
He listens for my bones to sing
For surely songs shall rise.
He hears the simple haunting songs
My bones had learned before I died
That I might meet and comfort him
With wonder when he dies.

* Note:  in the song, these two * are sung one after the other to the same second half of the melody, with leading notes into the second time.

Copyright © 2014 James Lawer


See the End of Wisdom

See the end of wisdom
Watch the salmon die
Villagers are slaughtered
When your drones are flying by.

Watch the elders vanish
See it on your screen
Keep your polished distance
Where your drones are being seen.

Give each child a number
When they dare ask "Why?"
Shame their curiosity
When your drones are flying by.

Every word one whispers
Every sentence, every sigh
Is recorded in Australia
For the drones out in the sky.

Pretend your brain's encrypted
And none can see you cry
Though your life was long recorded
Once the drones were in the sky.

Now the snow has fallen
The world is hushed and dry
The pride of war is swollen
With the drones up in the sky.

I'll sing to all my lovers
And the gifts they lay near by
I'll freely laud their beauties
Though the drones are in my sky.

I'll sing my heart in prison
I'll sing in soldiers' files
I'll sing to their amusement
While their drones are in my sky.



Samhain Curiosities

The world winds round its firm procession
Gripped by gravity, its leather threads unseen but felt
Within the flesh.  We, too, are held to earth
By haunting and murky insights, pathways
Threading through our sessions in the night.
No one, not one escapes this wilderness that sculpts the mind,
Nor can resist stumbling towards a harvest of peace
Through the shadows of constant change,
Nor does not hope to find durable threads
Unraveling from the skeins of time and place
To follow from the monster’s cave into the light.

Do we mind being here in this feast of carnality?
Touching, tasting, exerting, plunging soulward
From blossom to the splendor of red maple leaves,
The golden crowning of the oak, yellow aspens,
The plucked by chill wind and toppled to the ground?
My mind doth so hallow all the Mindedness of nature
Wrought within, worked, conjoined by breath and limb.
Might we also choose to leave, to push off, no longer useful,
Dropping the brilliance of our effervescent, lit display,
A leaf upon the trunk of all creation?
Is it not also in the fullness of the Mind, being creature,
That as nature purposes to undo in the shift of tidings,
We might also, being one of nature’s features?

Why do leaves fall?  Oh, I know (schooled and comprehending), but
Is comprehension just a blister on the skin of sensation?
How do knowing and feeling become relationship:
Flowers and death, cello sonata while letting go,
Awe of beauty and saying goodbye?
What makes it so, first blaring with colors of youth, then aged and gone?

Standing at the mirror,
Who are you?
Underneath, I mean, within,
Where the raven recalibrates your bones
So  you can take its shape and shift and fly.

How the sturdy flush of growth turns brittle.
This autumnal shattering of limbs
Presses me trembling, naked into the cold mud.
Why is it so?  Where have the dreams gone;
Where did this preternatural Thisness come from; and
Is this also dreaming:
Drifting listlessly on the northern wind
Towards piles of leaves and rotting mold?
Merry joys of spring
Are flung into the leather weir of death.
This is that weaving eager for the earth,
Hungry for burial,
Learning contentment by acceptance,
Weaving our threads into dark roots.

I am old now but nonetheless whisper the moon to glow
On and on after my descendants have joined me,
Themselves having fallen into the making of soil.
The earth rocks back and forth
Along its humming, seasonal lullabies
Within the vast embrace of darkness.

Copyright © 2013 James Lawer


A Carver Through Some Old Woods Walked

A carver through some old woods walked
On soundless soggy paths in splintered light,
Sank his heels before the hut.

“You stand here seeking,” Wild One said,
The crackle of her voice, harvest of the hanging limbs,
Through the forest broke and spread.
“Place your offering in the bottom
Through the iron cauldron rings.
There we’ll cook it, greet your dread.”

He placed the parcel, and she filled the pot
High with brackish water
Dyed with leaf mold filtered through the fallen logs,
Lit the fire, then arched one eye
And spoke: “Now, your questions, reach and try.”

Your wisdom draws the night sky in
On whispered promises of sleep
More gripping than forest wolves:
What is loneliness at night?

She pulled her rough skirt hard between her thighs
And squatted by the deerskin square.

“A Caravan of Jugglers
Tossing bits of fractured life,
Rocks and ribbons, plastic balls,
In high flung circles, intricate and tight,
Out from which the whistling goddess falls:
Her scratchy road of sound an endless pall
For divers shrieking riding on their eight legged thralls.
Is that enough?  Or do you want
To know yet more?”

Your wisdom holds the mountains up,
Older than their roots, before the autumn beech nuts form,
More searing than the harshest truth:
What is the name of doom before it falls?

She harshly wrapped the rough skirt round her waist
And sat her buttocks on the deerskin square.

“Litany of Monotony,
Hymn of Pleasure as the Hungry Children Yearn,
Irretrievability of Imbalance,
Power of Dismemberment Unearned,
Watching WhileYour Own Limbs Burn
While Quick Your Blood Flows to the Floor:
A Gored Tree Dying where the Pews are Stored.
Is that enough?  Or do you want
To know yet more?”

Your wisdom calls the clouds
And makes the rain descend on deserts
Harsher than rocks scorching bald flesh:
Who are those who bring hope?

She pulled the deerskin square
Tight between her thighs and slid to dirt.

“Those who dare to name the doom before you,
Where dancers on the edge of panic go
Laughing when the risk is great,
Whose very breath is ecstasy in flow,
Whose wise wild thoughts erotic phantoms make.
They craft with dragonflies a path towards hearts that break
While listening to the bleak, deep mirrors of the lake--
They, the Bridgewrights of the Rainbow Ways,
Craft edge to edge the traffic of unbounded love.
They stand and sing to plunging cliffs below,
Where layered pasts are stacked, and studied,
Then often twice born farmed, to then be harvest whole:
Some will always eat their layers of remembered hurt for lunch
And cling with ripped fingernails to their separate ledge,
But others—hear this—float new currents towards the light,
Outpace old falling boulders screaming downward from the edge,
For from the palms of singers outward flows the living stream,
And songs of singers move the air to set their sailing free.
Would you know more?

“Now,” she said, “the water boils and glows.
You must reach deep for what you seek to know.”

He plunged his hand in, stirred and searched,
But ah the gifting bundle now was gone.
His hand came out unscathed and clean.

She pulled the deerskin square
Into her teeth, and then began to suck and sing.

Then the willows hummed beside the stream,
The birds spoke freely of the gods who dream,
The ancient Wild One into grey mist leaned,
And Carver stood alone whereon the wet earth gleamed.

May 30, 2012

Copyright © 2012 James Lower


There is More than One Diaspora

There is more than one diaspora on this planet,
More than one people who want their homeland back
With guaranteed return passage to their heritage
To restore what once was stolen and never lent:
The land that gives them shape, where ancestors speak in trees.
There is more than one sage of old, ancient Moshes and Siegfrieds
Or great grandmothers in solitary huts beside the sea,
And others in their forests leaning on their knees,
Remembering prophecies of sacred soul relationships,
Reaching along paths of peace.

This is their song:
My hair is flying in the wind
Full of sparks and flames
Razor shreds of lightning flashing in the sun’s heat
Showering every shadow with revealing light.
For I am a wild horse
Snorting through unkempt forests and apple trees
Prancing out onto battlefields with harp and song
Laying down arms by the glow of my ancestors’ hearts
Flush to my skin and in my voice.
My hair has grown children of songs and circles
My silver hair has gardened all my heirs and grandmothers
My hallowed hair has gone from whispers to shouts
Against all blandness, and in canyon winds,
Mountain winds, meadow winds, desert winds,
Ocean winds, river winds, winds of red spires,
Winds of thundering trees, snow winds and icey fingernails
Scratching along icebergs, wind to wind to wind:
My hair has become the earth the stars the moon
My hair has weeping of children and elders’ stories
My hair has howling of wolves and waterfalls
My hair has cumulus clouds before rain
My hair has the patter of mice in summertime
Hiding in stalks of wild corn
Where in its shade is heard the sharpening of the scythe,
For a thousand thousand harvests and firelights
Glisten in my hair where colors dazzle the flanks of trout.
Come, dive into my hair of blue mud for scrying
And fly in the wind and sing the eternal chants.
My hair and my heart are fragrant with fire of roses in the wind,
The dense smell of a spice market on Iona among the sheep.
I am the wind.  Did I tell you?
Blowing sparks over the landscape.
Did I tell you?  And my teeth
Are rockets of words
Singing on the ocean floor where luminescent night creatures
Pulse into existence and pulse out,
Delicate threads of antique forms
Yet to be known, and this my teeth are singing
My tongue licking the salt and waves and sail winds
North winds, west winds, south winds, east winds, trade winds,
Catching the breeze wind that fans my hair into
Long long long ribbons upon the rolling sea,
Swimming in front of the eye of a whale.
I am the eye of the whale.  Are you seen?
And my sonorous humming
Is in the waves.
I am the waves.
Swim in me.
My hair is the waves and the wind and the whale.
I am the quite ordinary human heart
Beating deep, deep, deeper than before
Reaching back, back, back farther than before
Into the soil,
Every day birthing again the vital earth.

Copyright © 2012 James Lower


There is a Sleep

There are some, who
Having struggled against the sun,
Have absolutes
Repealed all variety in nature from their senses.
Creatures of infinite variation -
Their tasseled tails and dapples hues
Flung carelessly against the moon
To casue their wild beauty to be given away
Extravagantly - even against these
There are some whose motto often repeats in the air:
Reducio ad absurdum, which always means
"Nothing outside my own limitations
Can be thought to have substance." These (and they have
Generation and populations)
These have all gone to sleep,
While the melodious shimmer of God's hand
Plays lightly in the night.

There is a sleep from which some
By cultured acquiescence
Have tenon ores against the tide of their ow nature
And, grimacing, held their place in the swirling stream
By anchors to any doctrine
Crying, "Out!, tidal demons!" and therewith
Curse every joy that watches in puzzled wonderment of this struggle from the shore.
The they speak harshly to the lovely grass, calling it "Your vanity!,"
Then, beholding all the lovely creatures that beckon them in
Cry out against the invitation, and would sooner drown then be
Thoght less a warrior by quitting their tirade against the flow.f
[Water was not mean to vanquish our energies
(though often enough some of our brothers sleep in her depths)
But to quench thirst and fire, to provide
And to nourishing blood through veins in the earth.]
Those tired struggles, like blood born diseases,
Shall all be washed away, because they would not unanchor,
Would not row to waiting tribes of earth, and dance.
There is a sleep to which some are eternally consumed.

But you, my lovely family, who have so often beckoned to the dance of life,
Who have yourselves walked healing paths through nettles that blistered every footfall,
Who have sufficient beauty to hallow your stories and make them a nie language,
You, you, you, be outrageous, and taking all in, be the inclusive world you year for.
Leave no one out, even those asleep, for they most deserve your grace and your love,
Being, as they are, insufficiently kind to receive their own wounds.
Remark only that the sun is shining, ther rain falls, all is good, and everything is

Copyright © 2005 James Lawer


My Hands Split Open

My hands split open,
Earth climbs up my blood
The voice of salmon beckon it,
It flows through every vein,

Pauses in the heart for breath
And then is pushed on through,
It climbs the horses of my pulse
And gallops headlong to my brain.

It filters back and forms a film
That drifts upon my eyes
There the mist can cloud my sight but
Joins my flesh to earthen dream.

And as my skin grows weeds and grass,
I stop becoming what I seem.
Ah, the edges soften more
As water off of hot rocks stream

Until my feet have gone to root
And shot my hair in twigs and leaf
Wherein the dust will blow on every breeze
And I receive the rain.

Copyright © 2011 James Lawer


When Richard Died

There are, of course, always
angels slipping away at 3 o'clock or 4

          from terminals of departure
          onto a last flight
          before the devil pisses on the blackberries
          their work done, no one listening
          to what they must hear alone,
          the final call to board

Angels departing, lying on sanitized sheets
Then slipping sideways through another hole in their lungs,
Exit portal for the soul

          hands relaxing into wax on this chest
          eyes sinking forever into bowls too deep to use
          anymore, muscles slumped against face bones
          workers who have lost their rights to negotiate.

My angel is a musician now,
Whispers rhythmically
To oxygen pumps and whistling face masks.

          In the hallways, behind the curtains
          muted speaking, words creeping
          on crepe soles down linoleum halls
          voices disappearing into kindness.

I ache for a requiem to your going,
O my shriveled angel:

          Kyrie!, Kyrie!, Kyrie!
          Even though there's not enough mass
          to call your attention thisward,
          even your gaze having gone soft and waxy.
          I hold your bones in silence:
          This is my body, your seem to say.
          Behold, and do not turn away
          from these ascensions into death.

After the last softening grip,
When your fingers tightened with finality around my skin,
an electric surge shot into my hand
as I was holding you.
Your last breath pushed through your body into me
as an impetuous shove from flesh to flesh,
one more intimacy between us,

as you headed for the drifting clouds, saying:
"Look for me there when you need me."

          A last tear rolled down your cheek.
          The nurse saw it.
          She said so, sweetly leaning in my ear:
          "Look, one, little tear."
          But I,
          I had already memorized it and was
          already flying towards the open window,

          a fistful of tubes
          limp swords against the lord of life,
          a fistful of wilted lightning bolts
          hailing upwards from outstretched fists,
          banging against the ceiling of the sky,
          arcing upward, searching,
          wanting to see even one, fine etched cloud
          and wailing, Wait for me! Wait for me!
          flinging my voice into the hot afternoon sun
          until it took flight
          a light thing
          with bright wings.

Copyright © 1995 James Lawer


Boy Soprano

Boy Soprano:

I am the daylight
          And I am the hours;
I am of this name
          This hallowed night:
Seasons pass from day to age
          In the palm of my hand;
As in the sound of silence
          From a falling leaf;
I am of the green moss
          The down-spun stones in the well,
As well as of the silver salmon
          A sunlit pool under ancient oaks.

On my thin forehead
          The veil rests inbetween,
Through which emerge
          The vast embraces.

          And desire is good.
          And the unseen touches skin.
          And all living things are healed
          By unspoken words.

When I whisper
          Meet me under the moon.

Copyright © 2006 James Lawer


Three Short Poems from November 15, 1994

Snow geese drifting southward
          on a white hush of autumn,
Slipping through soft fog
          on distant horizons.

Clothed our soil with violet
          and acid.
now, the rain descends to
          immortal sins.

Pedastals and predators alike

Copyright © 1994 James Lawer


Look Out Northeastwards

Look you out
Over a mighty ocean.
See, my son, look there::
Its green depth
Teeming with sea life,
Home of seals,
Sporting, splendid
Its tide has reached

Aye, tune your ear
          What's on the waves
Those harkening voices
Your grandmother's bones
          Are singing to you::
Songs she learned
          Long before she died
The earth is beckoning
          Home to you.

The wind of life
Will fill your sail
And bring you
          To that shore
Where you shall land::
And if the mist seems new
Then stand you upon the sand
Weep as a man
          Come home.

Copyright © 2011 James Lawer


HAIKU, of Sorts


There are three things untouchable:
          A child's laugh
          A swan flying over a frozen lake
          A heart breaking

There are two things imponderable:
          The other side of death
          Awe in the eyes of a wolf

There is one thing unreachable:
          The depth of love

And yet:
          We seek to grasp it
          And trust less
          As wonder diminishes


There are three things of impenetrable mystery:
          That we exist
          That we experience existence
          That we know it

There are two things of wonder:
          A mandolin accompanying a flute
          Fog on the horizon

There is one thing we cannot know:
          That limit of unquenchable desire

And yet:
          Without seeking
          We arrive
          By removing obstacles


There are three things creating awe:
          Snow falling through dancers at a fire
          Red throated flickers drinking from an icycle
          Shadows illuminating hidden grass

There are two things emerging out of silence:
          Morning sunlight flowing down a canyon
          Rabbit tracks under a piñon tree

There is one thing unattainable:
          Perfect balance

And yet:
          By releasing
          We fly
          Into the Source


There are three things to be trusted:
          Being pushed away by a lover
          A wound that will not heal
          A word that pierces

There are two things inviolable:
          Corn pao feeding a bundle
          A vow by a person of integrity

There is one thing pure:
          An impeccable act without attachment

And yet:
          Over the edge
          Is a net
          Held by two eagles


There are three things puzzling:
          Sand in a cupped hand sifting away
          Amazement without explanation
          Heavy sounds of a large bird beating the air

There are two things aggravating:
          A formidable answer that doesn't satisfy
          Floating details without a web

There is one thing unending:
          The Book of Life of the People

And yet:
          We walk in light
          As a deer
          Assessing shadows


There are three things of amazing beauty:
          A butterfly in repose during a raging storm
          A child watching the moon rise
          A footprint gently filling with snow

There are two things that overcome fear:
          A pool of flowers in a deep forest
          A friend who walks besides you

There is one vision of inestimable power:
          A whisper spoken to an advancing army

And yet:
          We stand humbly
          As the sea
          Sculpts the sand


There are three nagging questions:
          Why should I struggle?
          Why grasp the past?
          Why not step into the river?

There are two good ways to set out on a journey:
          See the end before you start
          Be there already

There is one action that always finds treasure:
          Stop digging for difficulty

And yet:
          A crow
          Is always talking
          In the East


There are three things that induce understanding:
          Observing how the day becomes night
          Knowing the inside of your own face
          Experiencing the sun warming the soil

There are two things that bring healing:
          Standing in a meadow hearing the river
          Realizing the entire universe is in your own backyard

There is one enduring way of respect:
          Walking gently on the earth

And yet:
          A blue heron
          Watches in silence
          To catch fish


There are three circus acts to applaud:
          Siamese twins discoursing on the unity of all things
          A bearded fat lady on a high wire
          A clown in a business suit

There are two realities that defy explanation:
          Immaculate conception by komono dragons
          Forgiveness in the midst of righteious pain

There is one act that unites heaven and earth:
          A newborn laid on the chest of a dying elder

And yet:
          A venomous snake
          By grabbing its tail in its mouth
          Becomes eternity

Copyright © 2011 James Lawer


A Good Death

When she comes, death deliver my last pulse--
My limbs cooling, all energy closing in;
Unspeakable knowing kissing my terminal breath
Combing my matted hair, sweated into dark pillows,
Returning me to the vast, perturbable realms of new creation.
          Requiem aeternam dona eis, domine
          Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

I shall be birdsong, burrow the bark of trees,
Share soil with dampness and beetles, and
With the shroud's worm sail on green fusion,
Singing my bones into rusting cannons of our last war.
In my good death I forego my distinction.
I go interred to mud, into the eternal song,
My ancestors invoking my sweet trouble into their midst
Of which there is no end, no beginning, no flush of separation.
May the name of this be spoken from my forehead: Awen.
          Requiem aeternam dona eis, domine
          Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Copyright © 2007 James Lawer


Blue Nose (The Wild Boar)

Shield of strength
Guard of helmets
Sharpened tusk
Edge of sword,

Truth digger
Clan protector
Man maker
Hoard of food,

Wing racer
Edge of harvest
Sidhe sniffer
Grip of peace,

Blood spurter
Gouge maker
Flesh ripper
Watching eye of the Great Wood,

Song beasts
Flute of wings
Poem of th'avernging sow
Dance of newborn squeals:

From brood to Boar
You guard the dream
All pathways for
Great Danu's stream.

Copyright © 2011 James Lawer