Uneven Undoing

A slide manufactured
from sleeping pills
midsummers the faculties
and renders permission
impossible to be granted
for the ride downward
into a legitimate oblivion
and the intimacy
of a swiveling easy chair.

The television continues
to tell the story
of an infantry lieutenant
on the back nine
of a Gulf War battle
and an extraordinary
rendition of a snowball
located in hell.

Above the television
across the antlers
of a mounted elk head
a spider strings new silk
into daily temperature readings
in a Montana gas station
where the Coke machine
is so old it charges
a nickel for a green bottle.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Hundred Hues

The world reassembled itself.
It had not really fallen apart.
Bethany’s perception of it fractured
in the glint of the storage unit’s
razor wire.

Only a guest in the hidden chapel,
the light through the stained glass
worked better for her
than Christ upon the cross
with his decorative piercings.

Bethany sharpened her sense
of broken-down-in-urban-America
so the pieces fit properly.
No light shined through rough edges.
No cold winds pressed bare skin.

She relaxed into herself
as if lying on a pile of raked leaves
with the smoke of other piles
thick in the air before cities
banned such fiery rehearsals.

Bethany heard the song of the world
and how flat and out of rhythm
her life-notes were within it.
And the counter melody
of the long scars upon her body—

her repeated dash in the buff
through a thorn bush thicket
thinking she could embody
the Christ’s thorny crown
under the watchful eyes of owls.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Indifferent

The fever that burns through
the old white men
in a show of republican theater
cloaks them in sweaty lies
fabricated from a mad parrot’s preachings
under DC’s furtive grind
as it chews up the impoverished
and spews the bony pits
to the tune Yankee Doodle Dandy.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Solstice

Snow falls
like God’s
white hair
undone
as a ribbon
pulls free
and the locks
cascade
down upon
the rounded
shoulders
and curved spine
covering
the series
of separate
and articulated
bones
of faith.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Metaphor Taken Literally

Paul decides
he is more dust than ash.

Even with this declaration,
he remains mostly ocean.

Some days he is intimidated
by absences.

He places those voids
in a closed-off room

behind a red door
with a Gone Fishing sign.

This past week the world
scrutinized Paul for one news cycle

via more social and mass media
than he was accustomed to.

Because, in a poem he posted to a blog
Paul took on all the blame

for the third of the four years
of the Trump Administration.

It is so raucous under the microscope!
Their pens scratch baseline notes.

Arising, Paul bumps his head
on its glass ceiling.

See! Dust. Just like the dry scrapings
of an archeologist

around an uncovered artifact,
a carved figure of unknown origin.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pent Up

Paul let his hammer sing
through the air and crash

on two small plastic toys
that broke previously

under his boots
because he did not bother

to carry a flashlight
on this well known patch

of woods and rocks
last night after dark,

returning from watching
a cormorant at dusk

out of place
on a beaver pond

on the stream
carrying snow melt

down the unvisited
mountain top.

Paul’s dog flinched
each time the hammer struck

and little pieces flew
in all directions

for Paul to vent is rage
at turning his ankle

a deep blue-black
and swollen

after sidestepping
other might-be toys

and landing on
a tree root wrong.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Where Things Go

After overhearing me
speak into the phone
and say, The moon
is made of green cheese
,

the mouse in my library
opened all my old
physics and astrophysics
textbooks

and shopped on-line
for rocket parts
after abducting my credit card
from my wallet while I slept.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Argument

Paul seeks a starting point.
He wishes to un-scroll a set of disagreements.
He remains sure it is a language issue.
Cultural differences of the same words.

Everything is specific to human emotion.
Reactions often not coupled with decisions
where knowledge and will overrule
the visceral, the adrenaline rush.

Divides to span. Walls to scale.
Like cutting a strong raw onion
with company present in the kitchen.
Forced tears are unstoppable.

Again. A starting point.
A beer over Irish nachos in the pub?
A walk to the mountain top?
An email first to test the waters?

He tries to make sense of his memory
of the causal interaction.
Maybe the exchange is best viewed
as water downstream of a bridge.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Happy Meal

Dora clanged
her pots and pans
to wake the city
to the ghosts
freed from
their fleshy shells
by fast food
and sugary treats
but only managed
to annoy
the two occupants
of a fishing boat
riding the tide
for the outer banks
as the sun’s
bald head
first breached
the horizon
and everyone else
was too hungover
from New Year’s
solitary celebrations
to respond
to an alarm
about their
pandemic comforts.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Message From On High

Do the dead
pardon us
for our trespass
against them
during their lives?

And for speaking
ill of them
after they
are gone
to memory’s pasture?

The postal service
delivered
a postcard
from my father
fifty-two years late.

It was a photo
of Aspen, Colorado
and its snow glossed
mountains
with a blurred

blue note
in his poor
penmanship
that I could not
decipher.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney