Get Moving

Instead of attending the Indian Market
in the village square,

we chose an afternoon
below the clouds cloaking Wheeler Peak.

The aspen welcomed us
to the lake, to the hinged stand of stone

for a picnic and the chatter
of pinyon jays and pikas.

A petroglyph spiral and turtle
speaks to nineteen-seventies hippies

more than the ancient ones,
more than the current residents of Taos Pueblo.

We remained until the shadows informed us,
Get moving or you’ll be descending in the dark.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Going With The Flow

Paul realized he was igneous rock
molded into a middle-age man
addicted to habaneros and Tabasco sauce.

It explained his volcanic appetites
and steady state of venting steam.

It explained how he bled
for his core issues.

Paul understood his eyes
see through ultra-thin,
polished obsidian lenses.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Last Will & Testament

The crows will let you know for sure
when God is dead.

They will glide the stilled winds
and land upon the unmoving shoulder.

Bit by torn bit, the crows will carry
the dead God across the river,

reassemble that mighty visage,
and the cacophonous multitude

will caw and chortle and caw again
until they wake the dead to new life

in a shady glade of alder trees
recovering the forest from an old burn.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Trout Scales, White Oak, Red Corn, Buckhorn

All of Dora’s tattoos
resemble pictographs

cut in New Mexico’s
sandstone canyon walls.

She claims they were
under her skin first.

She remembers when
believers placed antlers atop her head.

Dora exhales the gravity-fires
of earth’s formation.

She remembers reaching out
and drawing in asteroids made of ice.

She remembers
the crucible of loneliness

filled with the ingredients of life
and casting double helixes.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The character Dora, who shows up in many of my poems, is some mix of person and mythology. Really, she is a vehicle for writing poems. She started out as my version of a Pandora (from the Greeks) character many years ago. I wish I was a bit more consistent in portraying her, but I am not. Oh well.

Over the years, I have had many characters arrive in poems who are a mix of person and mythology with fantastical characteristics. I think they arrive out of my dissatisfaction with the Bible and other holy books combined with my desire to be the writer of such tomes, since I believe them all to be human generated no matter the authors’ inspiration.

Love & Light.



A predawn runner turns his head
when my studio light comes on,
but is a half block gone
when the first keyboard-clicks
form words upon the screen.

His red windbreaker
enters the poem
as a brush stroke by Turner
down the shoreline
along the sea wall.

What I take as the world turning
is the runner’s feet powering rotation.

When he stops for the traffic light,
dawn is seven seconds delayed.

If his ankles sprout wings
does this display an ancient divinity
or a marketing strategy
by some global shoe company?

He reaches the end of the seawall.
Caught in the sun’s first gleam
the breakers splash white and gold
on the harbor, the docks, the channel lights,
the gentle sway of sleeping boats.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


When I first moved to Port Angeles, WA in 2001, I lived for 6 weeks in an apartment 3 blocks from the harbor, while waiting for the previous owner to vacate my new house outside of town. Occasionally time seems non-linear, because I had a visceral moment back in that apartment overlooking the harbor the morning I wrote this poem.

Embudo Canyon

I wait for
the thermal imprint
of the sun
upon my pasty
white skin,
by cotton
or lotion screens,
while the wind
the rabbitbrush
with miniature
dust devils
that fail to prevent
a canyon towhee
from its backward
ground scratch
and peck
as a riven
piñon branch
that music
I feel
more than

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

More Than A Year

Dust Bowl wind stripped the land.
Foreclosure notices pasted most windows.

Going means losing everything tangible.
Staying means losing everything intangible, too.

Grapes of Wrath style westward journey,
doing odd jobs to purchase food—

penny candies for the kids
are the greatest of extravagances.

Truck breaks down in Albuquerque
not far from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe station.

Empty stock-car blues player on mouth harp
and another on banjo

pass the hours west toward California,
to Flagstaff and savvy rail-yard men with dogs.

Thankfully more bark than bite
hounded our skedaddle.

Hallelujah preacher directed us
to forestry work available in the Kaibab.

More than a year before we make it to view
the Grand Canyon.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I have spent a many years of my life living adjacent to national parks. In those years I have met a variety of people who have never visited the national park they live adjacent to. This baffles me, because I love natural wonders. They were city people or had city people priorities, as in their needs were met by the city or town or church.

This poem is a fancy (fiction) to tell a story about what it took one imaginary family to visit a national park—the Grand Canyon.

I think every American should visit the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone national parks at least once in their lives. I believe it should be required by the constitution, but that amendment is not likely to pass or even be introduced on the floor of the house of representatives.

I encourage people to make lists of things that cause them wonder, a wow sensation that tingles the body. If it is seeing Beyoncé live in concert, do it. If it is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, do it. If it is running marathons, do it. Each reader knows what is important at the core of your life and I encourage you to place your time and effort into making it happen.