Thank you for adding color commentary
to my open mic performance
so the television audience knew
your interpretations of my Civil War allusions.

Thank you for the heat lightning above the desert grass,
the foolishness of your thunderous voice
booming curses over the draught stricken desert
that caused the rabbit brush to quiver perceptively.

Thank you for pointing out the iron ball
you wear about your ankle and drag along
as an impediment to your own slam poet glory
and explanation of your son’s two-eighteen batting average.

Thank you for the birds your house cat scares out of your yard
to decorate my trees like Christmas ornaments,
but I insist you maintain your cat within the boundary
of your titled land and the property lines you deem sacred.

Thank you for the woman standing in my latest poem.
She thought my living room was the event horizon
and escaped the black hole of your latest conspiracy theory
of the blighted deep state and an old testament marriage.

Thank you for your lack of gumption and preference to complain
so that your Ex got clean away on the tangerine contrails
of birds migrating north during the sun’s last light
toward the sound of the Taos hum, which I have never heard.

Thank you for the bitterness you chew
at your son’s absence from your life
and never let it grow into results we’d all regret
like the stumps that dot your yard.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I lived in Taos for three years and never heard the Taos hum, though I met many people who claimed to have heard it. Wikipedia entry on The Hum.

I have had some bad neighbors during my adult life, but none like the character I conjured for this poem. My worst neighbor stuck a gun in my face and threatened me for saying hello, how are you doing to his wife. She fled soon after with the help of her family and lawyers.

Over my years I aided, in small ways, two women to get away from abusive husbands. Both of those men viewed the women with a concept of property ownership akin to slavery of old.

Once, when I lived in Colorado, I met a man who believed that because he owned property (land) he could do anything he wanted to the land, including burn it all to the ground to spite everyone who lived around him. His goal was to close the state road that ran through his property and lead to the mountain and national forest beyond his land from the rural highway. He wasted a lot of money on court cases against the state of Colorado and got into trouble of his own for erecting road blocks to stop traffic from driving across his land on the state road.

Although I participated in slam poetry for eight years, I rarely made it to the second round. Some of that is on me since I focused far more on writing, than performing. How much of it was my being an outsider compared to the core slam group, I cannot say. It makes sense that a familiarity of style and structure scores well, if the judges are chosen from the regulars. I always liked the saying at the beginning of the slams, “The point is not the points, but the poetry.” Even though I did not advance much and won only once, I had a good time and remember it all fondly.

Love & Light


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