You’ll See Someday It Will Happen To You

Not aware that he was cursed
Paul walked through the shopping mall
totally unaware he radiated
this sensation that caused people
to be disappointed in him
for random reasons
that had nothing to do with his life
but the life of the person
who came in close proximity to Paul—
which is a measure of two meters
an anomaly in America which uses inches
feet and yards.

On a day when no one sang
Happy Birthday to Paul
a woman with a device
clicking like a geiger counter
approached him.
Her device drowned out her words
which appeared to be a simple greeting
on the lines of Hullo. My name is ….

Without so much as a by your leave
the woman hugged Paul.
A long disarming hug
that approximated a hug
of a beloved wife whose husband
had been away at war
for four or five years
and just now returned to their doorstep.
That image suggests
a long passionate kiss should ensue
and a news photographer would capture
the warmth and release of worry
but this woman had just met Paul
and was not that outgoing.

What did happen was the clicking device
became totally silent.

The woman speaking with a French accent
asked Paul to coffee at the Starbucks
at the corner of the street
where he happened to be walking
when she located him.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Editing

Paul does not like poetry.
Paul does not like other people’s poetry.
Paul does not like some people’s poetry.
Paul does not like incoherent rambling poems.
Paul does not like thinly stretched rhyming poems.
Paul does not like overly green nature poems with yarrow.
Paul does not like putting green poems.
Paul does not like new mother changing soiled diapers poems.

Paul does not like apple pie poems
unless the poet provides slices of apple pie to all attendants.

Paul does not like Spanish grandmother
making tortillas by hand poems.

Paul liked those poem categories the first twenty times
he heard them, but has grown weary of them
over the poetry slam seasons.

Paul likes hot meals better than poems about hot meals.
Paul likes sex better than poems about sex.
Paul likes walking in nature better than hearing nature poems.
Paul likes playing baseball better than hearing
Mighty Casey at the Bat or Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Paul supports his independent book shop
by purchasing copious amounts of small press
and university press poetry books.

Paul reads each poetry book once
then places them in a sidewalk poetry edition little library box.

Paul keeps one out of every one hundred
poetry books he purchases to collect dust on a bookshelf.

Paul has become his own get off my lawn poem
when it comes to poetry.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Vine Ripened

Paul takes
an evening walk.
Albertsons offered them
as free samples
in aisle seven
by the frozen foods.

He wishes
Albertsons
offered
orange wedges
like after
Little League
baseball games
when he
was young.

Or if the produce
section
had free samples
of fresh love
on a stainless
steel tray
pierced
by toothpicks
proffered
by a girl
from marketing
who wore
a dangerous
smile.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sunday Night Baseball

Paul arrived with a garden sized trash bag
full of dirty clothes, an orange peel
and the start of a story he got lost in
somewhere toward the middle
where the hero seemed like a pudgy kid
with hairy feet and a stolen ring.

The clothes were not his clothes.
He found them along the road
and on the sidewalks on his way over.
Serendipity caused him to bring along
the garden sized trash bag in his left hip pocket.

The orange peel was actually two half orange peels
he picked up in our yard
unaware that we cut up one orange a week
and put it out for the song birds
on the belief or mistaken belief
it makes their songs sweeter.

The middle of the story is set in Middle-earth.
Which is something of a translation of the Norse
word Miðgarðr for this earth.
The one we live on now
with its pandemic and catastrophic hurricanes
and rise of authoritarian rhetoric
by people massively uncomfortable with change.
Like climate change.

So the pudgy kid is actually a hobbit.
A creation by J. R. R. Tolkien.
In this case Frodo.
As is the story and the ring.
But the moral is pertinent to our earth.
The evil of the world is defeated
when the common man decides
to take up the burden of setting things right.

Paul washes the clothes from the garden sized trash bag
so we can drop them off at Goodwill
or another five-o-one-c-three resale shop with agency.
Dianne invites him to stay over for supper
since it is easy to add another bratwurst to the grill
and there is enough sauerkraut and potato salad
to go around.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Division

In America we do not have classes.
We have collars. Blue. Or White.

Paul alters that binary choice
to voter and non-voter.

There are no visual cues to tell
which people are which.

Paul points out that the person
who complains too much does not vote.

It could be America is bracketed.
As in income brackets.

Money does not create barriers.
Lack of money creates barriers.

Paul once met a woman
and they really hit it off

until she wanted to have dinner in Paris.
He could not afford three Michelin stars.

Let alone the supersonic airfare.
Let alone a tux rental.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tyranny Sonnet

Pandemic face mask tyranny.
Stop sign tyranny.
No littering tyranny.
Stay off the grass tyranny.

Clean up your dog’s poop tyranny.
Slower speed in construction zone tyranny.
Professional licensing tyranny.
Restaurant health code tyranny.

Water quality tyranny.
Dumping trash tyranny.
National Park land conservation tyranny.
Currency tyranny.

Golden rule tyranny.
Love thy neighbor as thyself tyranny.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Face Value

Paul got engaged
when he was nineteen.

It did not last long
because the girl did not wish to marry.

She did desire to wear
a diamond on her ring finger

and show it off to her girlfriends
for a couple days.

She loved Paul for not being mad
and for understanding her desire.

He did not understand
but simply accepted facts at face value.

They had a dis-engagement dinner
the equivalent of the dinner

on night he originally proposed
happily-ever-after-ing together.

There was no breakup sex
since neither of them felt broken.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Left Him Alone While It Rained

Paul sat at a cafe table.
A sign stood on his table with the words
Arguments five dollars.

He played to his strength
since he was not good at reading
tarot or palms.

Business was not brisk.
In fact a cafe patron took pity on him
and brought him a burger with fries.

Paul looked her square in the eye
and said he asked for ham and Swiss
on pumpernickel with chips and a dill pickle.

The woman walked away in huff.
She failed to read the fine print on the sign
that said he accepted barter.

Paul would have added Coke no Pepsi
in quasi-honor to John Belushi
but the woman had brought him a ginger ale.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

I am not Religious

My idea of God
does not fit in a church.

I visited great European cathedrals
to view the artwork in the windows
statuary and architecture

not the reliquaries
and saintly crypts.

Churches do fit
within my idea of God.

Though not as well as forests
or mountain meadows.

I once started a count
of the everyday saints I met
as I traveled these United States.

Six full legal pads
and a box of pencils
sharpened to nubs
and I was only one week
into the adventure.

My idea of God
fills the void between protons
neutrons and electrons.
The galactic distances between molecules.

Something in the weak and strong forces.

Something that remains
gracefully and elegantly
out of my grasp.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Bounty

Paul traces
his genetic ancestors
back to Maryland
the Eastern Shore
a grand house of slave owners
and halts the historic search
at the shores of the Atlantic
not wishing to know
what atrocious portion
of feudal England
taught them
this historic violence.

He would not be welcome
in that house.

He may have met a young
Frederick Douglas.

He wonders if their faces
would look familiar to his mirror
or if their privileged countenance
would cause them to appear as strangers.

He checks himself.
His own barely acknowledged privilege
in these days of John Floyd
and Black Lives Matter.

He plans to go there one day
once the Eastern Shore pandemic
is safely in the history books
so he may stand on that land
and see how it bore up
to the unchristian mistreatment
of the people who harvested the fields
and carried milk to table
but were not allow to share
in the bounty.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney