Paul carried a bonfire in his vest pocket.
From time to time he took it out and let it lick his face.

He collected wishbones and sent them priority mail
to his congresswoman as a political donation.

This week’s twelve feet of snow on the Sierra Nevadas
was all the world’s crocodile tears swept up by the wind.

Paul’s heart is made of bees wax
and fuels the bonfire in his vest pocket.

It is his silver cord not a candlewick
that connects the two.

The whalebone archway where couples marry
was flown to Albuquerque by a rookie hurricane.

Paul dismisses the notion
he extracted his bonfire from whiskey.

He found a baby wildfire abandoned in the forest
and raised it as his own.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Five Pound Sack

Paul juggled doubts.
Six of them.

Whether to visit Jackson, Mississippi
and its old black neighborhoods.

If he should wear stone washed jeans
that looked like a cloud puff sky.

If he should pin-drop every pothole in Albuquerque
and send the map to the city.

If planting a cross in his dead lawn
will resurrect it.

Which presidents’ heads
to carve out of russet potatoes.

Whether to take his sweet time
on the dance floor.

One by one, Paul tosses his doubts
to the audience.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Good Luck

Parakeet particulars populate
the restless morning.

My weight sifts foot to foot
until centrifugal forces topple me.

Does my fourth floor drain drop
straight down to the sewer?

Society’s tectonic shift occurs
when children keep their mother’s name.

Where do I draw the line of minding my own business
when trying to safeguard the neighborhood?

I feel vexed sharing my father’s genes
slightly more than my mother’s.

I lined my iron kettle with poetry magnets
and simmered many stews to serve to my writing group.

The parakeet has flight of the whole house
and is not paper trained.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Addition by Subtraction

Sitting in a puddle
of what leaked from his brokenness
Paul felt good to hurt.

The hurt felt more honest
than anything he said over the last few days
and felt like a cloth cleaning a slate.

The slate fiercely held on to
commas, periods, semicolons
and an ellipsis that lead to the next sentence.

The next sentence was from a dream
where Paul was a number two pencil
whose eraser refused to remove past mistakes.

He judged his mistakes to be much larger
than they actually were.
He lacked perspective.

He tried to change his perspective
about his manliness.
The change included the sort of pill

his equilibrium required each day
to make it through interactions
with the remainder of humanity.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Melancholy Replay

Paul dropped his apology
in the grass under an apple tree.

He thought it easy to find
but it proved as difficult as a green contact lens.

He returned to Lori without the apology
and attempted to rewrite history.

Paul’s second versions of history
trespassed, left muddy footprints

all over Lori’s self-esteem
and further fractured their relationship.

Paul without Lori felt a brokenness
where an expectation of approaching perfection failed.

He crafted a new larger apology
that was really a Swiss Army Knife apology

with sixteen different tool shaped apologies
for both assembling and dismantling.

Paul stopped at Lori’s to give her
this red and stainless steel apology.

Lori examined the exploration-ready apology
opened the knife blade and sliced an apple.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cartesian Coordinate System

Lori wakes with irrational words in her mouth.
She tries to calculate them to the ninth decimal point.

In those words she locates a sleeping giant.
She kicks it, but it does not stir.

Lori falls asleep again so she may wake next to herself
since no one is there to ease her loneliness.

She slings her arm over a pillow to create the illusion
she hugs a wounded polar bear and makes it whole.

Lori wakes with the Pythagorean theorem on her tongue.
She tastes the Euclidian air of five-seventy B.C.

She sits up bent at the waist into a right angle
and feels the hypotenuse form

from the top of her head to the tip of her toes
but her mattress blocks one of the squares from forming.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul stood outside a cave
and listened to the earth breath.

He pictured two pink lungs
deep in the earth

drawing in and pushing out
a vermillion atmosphere.

Paul imagined a bear deep in hibernation
half way down the cave

confident the earth
would breath for it while it wintered.

He viewed active volcanos as the earth
coughing up fiery phlegm.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mechanical Dementia

The clock decayed
as time ticked each second forward.

A gear lost a molecule or two
that fell to the bottom of the case.

A dusty detritus that must be
periodically cleaned out.

Like skin sloughed off the body
disappeared into the carpet or grass.

The laughing children ran counterclockwise
trying to unwind time for grandpa Stephenson.

But his ghastly deformities held sway
discontent with black & white youthful photos.

Death came for my clock in its finality
unable to discern A.M. from P.M.

Hours from Seconds.
Ticks from tocks.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Your star-spangled tongue
twisted red, white and blue
around each utterance.

At the same time
your originalist mind
worked to replace

all of the amendments
after the ten
in the bill of rights.

Safe with your 401k
over a million dollars
you thought slavery

the province
of those poor people
unable to pay their bills.

In your mind
it would be the destination
of every asylum seeker

and anyone convicted
of felonies
no matter their color.

Your capitalist mind
translated everything
into property.

So much so
you never had children
due to the expense.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


My latest collection, Far Away Right Here, is available in print. Dianne and I cherry-picked all the poems I wrote in 2022 to create this collection. If you like this poetry blog, purchasing a copy is a good method to support this effort and assist me in paying the yearly internet fees.

One Cool Evergreen

Our hike stops
stands perfectly still
for an out-held
smart phone
to identify a birdsong.

Sunday morning
this canyon
is our church
with its granite pews
and piñon statuary.

We prefer the trails
halfway up the slope
over the arroyo below—
all dry sand
footprints and tracks.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


My latest collection, Far Away Right Here, is available in print. Dianne and I cherry-picked all the poems I wrote in 2022 to create this collection. If you like this poetry blog, purchasing a copy is a good method to support this effort and assist me in paying the yearly internet fees.