I was asked to explain wisdom to a class of high school kids, because I am a poet and assumed to possess more wisdom than bankers or lawyers or septic tank cleaners or baseball stadium hot dog venders.

I formed a mental picture of wisdom to fuel a thousand words that I may speak to the class of creative writing students waiting to be enlightened, pretty sure all I have for them is forty-five minutes of catch phrase bullshit.

Knowing my personal wisdom was limited to my personal experience and the philosophy and science books I read over the years, I scribbled random thoughts on cafe napkins, then organized those napkins at home into a stack. I unstacked those thoughts as I typed them up and added photo images to illustrate a budding point especially dear to me.

The day of the class visit arrived and I tucked my papers and laptop into my highly reflective backpack. The number ten bus jostled down the road, and delivered me to within a block of the school, an alternative school—though alternative to what, I do not know.

That gave me a last moment pause, wondering if these students required an alternative wisdom.

The show must go on in the human theater even if these are creative writing students. After the introduction, I greeted them replaced my papers and laptop into my backpack. I stood stock still, mum through the time limit. My eyes met their expectant eyes, their disaffected eyes, their sleep deprived droopy eyes, their you’re stupid eyes, their lunch is next hour eyes.

After fifteen minutes of no words, a girl in the second row broke into a smile, stood and turned, shushed the others when they began to snicker, to chitchat, to text on smart phones.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This piece is made up, a fiction. Although I have done poetry workshops in high schools, I have never been asked to give my views on wisdom to a high school class, knitting groups, book clubs, a baseball stadium filled with fans, or friends late at night when people loosen up and reveal themselves.

I do believe that the foundation of wisdom is silence. Silence in not saying too much, especially things you do not really know. And silence means that stillness in your heart and soul.

I believe most people do not appreciate the difference between knowing and believing. Jumping to conclusions, especially false conclusions, is a great basis for a TV drama script, but not for wisdom.

Letting go of ego is a tool to achieving wisdom as well. Some of you might think it odd that “letting go of ego” is a tool toward something else and not an end in its own right. My experience is that it is an early step to many worth while things on this earth.

Enough philosophy for a Wednesday morning.

Have a productive day.

Love & Light


Long As It Takes

This poem’s purpose is to heal you.
It is antiseptic and an antiviral.

It will kill all that festering shit
that constantly loops through your brain.

It will kill all those circulating internet memes
that numb your heart.

This poem reminds you of your value.
This poem rebuilds your self-esteem.

This poem supplies words
when you require them.

This poem remains hushed
when silence is what you need.

It exposes all your flaws and fractures
so you may see your truth.

It reminds you and your body
there is no deadline for getting adulthood right.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Unappealing art
smacks the witness
like a subpoena to testify
in a court case
that proves
the petty injustices
of modern life:
failing landfills,
opioid junky flophouses,
schoolyard bullying,
and the old guard’s
sense of privileged

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I wish the USA supported art in all its forms more than it does. Vastly more. Even bad art makes a statement. I should not say bad art, because art sometimes is meant to poke you in the eye, to make your skin crawl.

There is a popular type of art my university friends and myself labeled “Hallmark Art”. It was happy, easy art designed for a Hallmark greeting card. It was meant to put the viewer at easy. It was the beer and pizza of art.

Over time I came to realize it has its time and place too and should not be put down.

Art is often used to lift the social conscious. To expand the viewer’s experience.

I would much prefer troubled people to express themselves through art, than through a gun in a robbery or an overdose of a drug habit. This includes the large number of alcoholics, who turn a car into a lethal weapon.

If each hurting person could express their pain and society listened and then acted to fix systemic problems that would be a good thing.

Love & Light



It begins with a pencil drawing.
Four-B graphite on Arches paper.
Lines arc with imperfection, without a rule.
The white space between lines varies.
The white space absent a form—a white shadow.
A ghost. Her truancy interrupts each line
as I assemble syllables into words.

The white void is eager to receive.
A word printed in colored ink
with old wooden block type,
one inch Helvetica letters
from a dusty press set.

Love is my choice to fill that void,
that emptiness defined by arcs,
archangels—that negative space
that loses its shape
the closer my eye moves to the point
where my pencil halts
and lifts from the page.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


My first university degree was in Drawing & Printmaking. At my best, my drawing skill was near photographic in quality. I have done very little drawing since 1990. That was the year that my daughter was born and died on the same day. After that for many years my hand suffered as if hit by a hammer when a pencil was held in it for drawing. I could draw mechanically, but not with art. In 1993 in switched over to poetry. (I type my poems and dislike hand writing a poem. My creativity requires both hands.)

I feel that I write poetry like a painterly artist. I mean, I use a lot of my artistic eye and concepts in my poetry.

The loss of my daughter affects me still, but not so much as the years pass. So, a poem writes itself when the old pain makes itself present. The best advice I received was when the void, then pain shows up, fill it with love, a loving act that shows the world I still care.

Love & Light



I have said things
about you
I meant
to keep hidden
until my last
will and testament
was read aloud.

will have to determine
thru the blur of truth
and distorted memory
what punishment
your crimes demand
from the just.

If I am
the last of our line,
I am sure
your chained ghost
will deliver me
a hard face
full of denial
and victim blaming
while you suffer
infernal torments
from below
your conscious

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

All That Happened Happened

As much as I do not miss my mother,
I am persuaded, in spite of her faults,
to the best of her ability, she was a good person.

I have some understanding of trauma
and how it limits a soul,
especially when forward
is deemed the proper investment
of time and effort.

Though I was subjected to…

To form accurate conclusions
when you view me,
an intergenerational story
must be inspected in detail
before convictions, if any,
find their way into sentences.

For my own good
answers must come into focus
from the shrouded past,
resolve my own traumas’
subservient emotions,
thus remove their leaden influences
from the energetic day.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The hull of the last slave ship
was found on a Mobile River’s shore this morning.

Its sand encrusted beams
carry a painful bitterness in the hold.

Its rusted metal rings
chain the harassing abduction to memory.

Civilized meant something
different back then compared to today.

As did black and white.
Freight. Cargo. One hundred and ten Africans.

As did constitutional respect
fifty-two years after the African slave trade was outlawed.

The descendants now have
corroboration, evidence to confirm family stories.

The descendants now have
validation for Africatown, Alabama.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Clotilda is the name of the last slave ship to sail from Africa to the USA. Its hull was located recently in the banks of the Mobile river north of Mobile, Alabama. National Geographic Article link. Wikipedia Link.

Personally, I am in favor of reparations being paid to African American descendants of slaves. Congress held hearings yesterday. I do not think they went well for my desired outcome.

I think reparations should be paid to Native Americans as well. White America took most the land from them, then broke everyone of the treaties we made. Not very good behavior on our part.

I missed noting yesterday was Juneteenth, the day news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas. Wikipedia.

Have a productive Thursday everyone.

Love & Light