Senseless Repetition

I left Jerusalem.
All warned people left Jerusalem.

We expected a godly demonstration
and feared turning into salt.

I traveled alone
in the company of others.

All of us looked at our feet
as we stepped away from tradition.

I hoped this was the end
of perennial war.

But the weight of Nothing changes
kept my head down.

My footsteps covered the footprints
of those in front of me.

A man by the side of the road
with his head broken open

had a votive candle where his brain
once was.

This is the beginning
simultaneous with the end.

A single mother struggled to keep her children
from looking back toward home.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


We lay still for a while.
Clouds crawl across the sky.
Sweetgrass in the wind tickles your ear.

The land slopes downward south and east.
Say’s Phoebe flies over us catching.
We eavesdrop on an extinction event.

Our lifelong volcano without surprises.
The geological alarm clock steadily ticks.
It accumulates seconds. Pressure.

The bulge not yet showing.
In the ancient cone, rainwater
does not pool for long.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I wrote this a month ago, three weeks before I learned the caldera under Yellowstone is filling with lava and has lifted the landscape (the size of metro Chicago) by 5 inches.

Our volcano cones west of Albuquerque are as calm as ever.


My parents lied.
They said they loved me.
Not really. Not once that I remember.

It was not from lack of trying.
It was from seeing my brother’s ghost
when they looked in my direction.

How dare I not be him.

Still, they had love in them
building up in a large reservoir
behind a grieving dam.

My mother was a girl scout leader.
She spread her love over the girls in her troop.
Her three troops.

They lapped it up and cherished her.

My father was a professor
and poured his love into calm instruction,
so patient with slow learners.

I never learned how his students felt about him.

I do not hate my parents for withholding love.
I was angry with them for it.
Anger resigned two decades ago on this grudge.

How simple, complex and lovable our humanity.
Love’s riverine capacity
to flow around the obstacles of grief and pain.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Face up.
Salt water.

Blue sky.
Passing gulls.
Contrail ribbon.

Limestone bluffs.
A long cave.
Old as Methuselah.

Old man.
Kicks and swims.

Fresh water.
Thin current.
Buoyancy loss.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

And Counting

Off ramp.
Black ice figure eights.

Over the shoulder.
End over end.

Briefcase thrown
wide open.

Blown Papers plaster culvert.
New headlines.

One errand gives way
to another.

Rollers and sirens.
Poppy derivative oblivion.

Time lapsed.
Unconscious exit imminent.

Medical mechanics.
Beeps and bells.

Tubular lupine muttering.
Round about.

You under my eye.
Three days and counting.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A silk scarf hints sweet balm.
A bee hovers midair.
A fingertip nudge.
Moistened lips glisten.
Incoming honey light spear.
Infinite prism subsets scatter.
Widening temptation.
A syllable caught on inhaled breath.
A sharp amber bulb.
White shudder impact.
Cupid’s rubber tipped arrow adheres to glass.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Without asking,
my computer makes a video of me
and sets a loop as my screen backdrop.

It displays my eyes darting about.
My fingers type an unfocused poem.
You believe I mouth, Mule Shoe.

You believe I play a murderer.
My eyes glow with a blue light.
The word Murderer repeats across the crawl.

In a rainstorm, on a muddy berm,
the loop portrays me killing
anonymous hyperactive men point blank.

My mouth fountains red blood.
A hole opens in my breast.
I fall backward and splatter mud onto the lens.

For another three seconds
raindrops hit the muddy lens and run.
The drops clear the lens a little.

Fade. The End appears white on black.
No credits scroll.
My personal history produced by Hardware.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


The Mule Shoe is a portion of the battlefield at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. Link to Wikipedia page about the battle.