9/11 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago, I lived ten miles outside of the Port Angeles, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. Being on the pacific coast I was 3 hours behind the east coast time. I woke, wrote poetry for a little over an hour and then checked the news on the internet. I saw a little feed-rectangle in the upper right corner of the screen showing a plane crashing into a tall building. I discounted the moving image as an advertisement for flight simulator game software and changed to the sport webpages to check baseball scores. I went about my day as if nothing unusual had happened. I mowed my lawn, played with my neighbors dogs, went hiking on Hurricane Ridge trails, stopped at the market for fresh seafood to make for supper.

It was not until 4:30 or 5:00pm that I noticed I had received a flood of emails. Most of the email writers knew I edited a small press poetry publication. They asked if I had heard from any of the New York City poets who I had previously published and were they okay. That was the moment when I realized something big had happened. Not having TV or dependable cell phone service at the house, I went to the internet to look up news and learned what I thought was a game ad was a terror attack and catastrophe.

One of the last emails of the day was from a NYC poet letting everyone in her email address book know she was physically okay, though shaken to the bone by the day’s events.

I did a lot of blank staring at the wall that evening. I knew the USA changed that day, but not what the change would be. My hopes were different than what took place over the last twenty years.

Love & Light. Love & Unite.


Thanksgiving 2019

I woke this morning to find three inches of snow upon the cholla outside my bedroom window. It is very beautiful, up until the point I go outside and shovel the snow from the walks and clear the cars. The snow will be beautiful again after I take some aspirin for those shoveling aches and pains.

Link to Wikipedia on Thanks Giving.

This Thanksgiving day finds us at home. It is just three of us. Myself. Dianne. And her grandson Zane. We have the lazy version of a feast with food prepared by our local organic coop grocery. Less fuss for us. Less dishes for me to clean after eating.

There is too much football on TV today. I have set the Bears – Lions game to record and will watch it at some point.

Tradition has us pay extra attention to what we are thankful for during the past year on this day. My choice to share with you is a category of thanks. It is all the little things that caused my notice to focus. This is when that something to notice causes you to pause and savor the moment. The light on the Sandia mountains. The yellow of the lesser finches. The Canyon Towhee’s call. Thrashers running. A glint in another person’s eye that expresses how alive they are in that instant. Warm smiles. A line of poetry I write that is perfect and I have no idea where it came from. Dianne’s hugs. Any time a face of someone I know pops to mind and I say a prayer for them. Letting 72% dark chocolate melt on my tongue. Every email I get from my pen pal. And so on.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


Getting Dora To Make Pancakes Sonnet

Buttermilk is a fissionable material.
Pancake batter is the only thing that makes it stable.
Even that cheap dry powder stuff
from the dollar store generic box will do the trick.

Grind up a magazine photo of Mahatma Gandhi
and add the powder to the mix if you want the flap jacks
to keep Aunt Angela quiet as a church mouse all day,
so you can read your latest western gunfight novella in peace.

You do not need any musical blueprints
or ergonomic light emitting diodes
or The Journals of Josiah Gorgas,
or a magpie’s dissertation on Beyoncé’s Faustian dealings.

Please add a drop or two of Anisette, beat until frothy,
then pour each cake so it looks like Micky Mouse.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I miss I-HOP (International House of Pancakes). Ever since I learned I was allergic to a protein in grains like wheat, I have avoided I-HOP out of self-preservation. I miss the early morning or late night comfort meals shared with friends when all topics were open for conversation.

We have found a substitute for regular pancakes and those are coconut flour pancakes. On special days, Dianne makes them for me. I could make them myself, but I have not in a while.

My favorite things to place on pancakes: Almond butter and a little honey, roll the cake up and eat it like a weird cannoli. Maple syrup is too sweet for me these days. Shredded coconut is good, but they are coconut flour pancakes and this might be determined to be overkill. Chocolate shavings or melted chocolate is good too.

Extra things we place in the pancakes—we often grind up almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and/or walnuts to place in the pancake batter. We use to grind up pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as well, but it turns out they contain the allergen as well.

Love & Light


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.


Dimmed by lacy cloud cover,
the North Star blues the visage
of suicidal ghosts
as they slurp the isolation
of the digital cloud.

Might as well gnaw their own bones through
to free themselves
from the bleached pallor
of midnight screens
as opaque sighs settle in tossed covers.

This floating island
remains anchored in a claustrophobic studio.
A box that fails to shut out the voices
of the recent dead
and the doubt they express
carted about in carved-stone backpacks.

copyright © 2018 Kenneth P. Gurney


In Albuquerque today we experience our first ever recorded blizzard. This is the first ever recorded snow storm that qualifies as a blizzard. 4″ of snow cover the ground. Winds blow from 25 to 35 mph. The wind chill is at 6° at eight in the morning when I type this.

My bones remember this type of weather from growing up in Chicagoland, but my bones are older now and do not care for this type of weather, no matter how beautiful the snow on the mountains or the cityscape draped in white.

I had thought to walk through the snow to my favorite cafe for writing, but the conditions cause me to think I will hunker down in the warmth of my poetarium for writing and reading.

Love & Light


Holiday Message

Well. Christmas day arrived. Just like every other day really. It was four a.m. when I woke (early to bed, early to rise is just the way I am). Our studio houses me each morning after rising, so I do not wake Dianne with typing and lights and a little music if I play some. I am more of a solstice person myself, but I appreciate all the different religious versions of shortest day commemorations of the return of light in all their various forms.

My holiday wish for all of my readers is that each of you succeed in discarding all those learned and society enforced behaviors that are not really who you are, so you become fully (100%) yourself. To aid this wish in manifesting, I waved my magic wand (which today looks like pink bunny ears) so the constant bravery required to be oneself 24/7 is available in your personal skill set.

Ah. Dianne (she is so wonderful) just delivered my Earl Grey tea in a cup with a Roosevelt Elk printed on the side above the words Olympic National Park. Lovely place. I once lived adjacent to the park for four years. I hope at one point in your life you get the chance to visit the park and cash in a few Karma points (I know karma does not work that way, but…) and thus convince the elk to let you see them.

Love & Light.


Alive Fifty Years Hence

I lay sprawled on the gravel
like some nineteen-fifties western
movie extra shot in the back,
belly pushing up against my spine,
heave of dusty breath,
knees digging into small rocks
hands and face impregnated
with granular sharp corners.

Waking darkness settled my mind
as my jeans slid off
after three wooden blows to the backbone
broke my wings of flight—
my shriek tunneled
the blackness to remote ears.

Weightless, I saw it all third person
suspended upon the nearby swing set,
the metal chains a perfect pendulum,
the rubber seat became rock-a-bye cradle.

When it was over—it’s never really over—
I pulled myself together
three score jigsaw pieces shy of a thousand
with darkness filling those voids
while memory dug furiously to bury
the dying sense of childhood safety—
knowing go home makes nothing better.

copyright © 2018 Kenneth P. Gurney

Thanks Giving Day 2018

It seems to be a tradition to relate to others what you are thankful for on this day. At least it was so when my family gathered together before we grew up and scattered to distant points across the country. I think it a good tradition. The following are in the order they popped into my head.

White Crown Sparrows. I call them bicycle helmet sparrows, because the color pattern on their head appears to me as a bicycle helmet. They just have an indefinable quality that I love. Canyon Towhees, Juncos, Thrashers and Magpies tie for a close second.

Trump. Okay. I know this sounds odd coming from me, who thinks Trump is a horrible, terrible, very bad, wannabe-dictator president. But, his presidency has woken up the citizens of this country and caused earnest participation in our democracy. A democracy requires a civilized, non-violent revolution through the vote about every twenty to twenty-four years. I think we missed the revolution that should have happened in the 1990s. So, I am thankful citizens, no matter their party affiliation, are actively participating in our democracy.

72% Cacao Dark Chocolate. My desert of choice. Best served with a dark red wine—a good claret (as Rumpole of the Bailey use to say). Perfect to top off every meal of the day (without the claret at breakfast and lunch), if I can manage my self control to consume only 2 squares per meal.

Poetry. I know I have reported to you that I dropped out of the poetry community and doing public readings, etc., but I still love to write poetry and read poetry. Most of my poetry reading is of living poets. I never found the great-white-dead poets moving. Sorry Robby Burns. Sorry Tennyson. (I do own a leather bound edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass). The poetry I find most moving is living Native American poetry, with poetry written by women preferred over poetry by men. Anyways, poetry has been my creative expression vehicle for twenty-five years and has served me well by bringing me a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.

L. L. Bean. This seems a bit commercial, but they are the clothing company that carries my size, large tall, on almost all of their clothing items. It is such a pleasure after years of wearing ill-fitting clothes to wear my size with proper sleeve length and fit around the shoulders and torso.

Dianne. I do not doubt that the women who shared my earlier, pre-Dianne life loved me, but Dianne’s manner of loving connects best with me—closest to my wave-length I think. Her love has given me a foundation to get unstuck from some stuck areas of my life and to be open to recognizing my faults and improving where it needed to take place. How can you not help but be thankful to the person who, out of love, allows you to grow into a better person. Smaller ego. Bigger heart.

Mountains. All my life I have loved being in mountains. In a primal sense, I feel safe in mountains. This is an important feeling if you consider the childhood traumas and adult traumas I have gone through. Wonderfully interesting how geography can give you a sense of safety. Technically, Albuquerque is in the Rio Grande river valley. But, Dianne and I live in the northeast heights, on the flanks of the Sandia Mountains. The foothills trailheads are a seven minute drive from the house. Twenty minutes of walking takes us past the line of sight of the city and beyond an acoustic barrier that blocks out the city sounds.

My Pen-Pal. Beth is my pen-pal (email pal). I never knew how great a long distance friendship could be. We made initial contact through a poetry project I produced a couple years back and traded books. The pen pal thing got going on its own. We met in person last year when I was on a trip that passed through her part of the country. What a great person. We are both poets. We both have our life struggles (who doesn’t). We are comfortable enough to share honestly about our lives, thus being able to tell our story which lightens life’s burdens. It is also good to share photos, too, which I could do on this blog, but for some unknown reason have not—maybe in the new year attached to a resolution.

That is my 2018 list. I am sure there is more than this, but that is all that popped from my mind as I sit in my favorite cafe (which should be on the list), typing this blog entry the day before Thanks Giving.

Remember to practice the Golden Rule every waking moment. Especially with that family member who has the polar opposite political point of view from yours.

Love & Light





The Democrats took the House in the midterm election. Now they are maneuvering to determine who will be the next speaker of the house. Nancy Pelosi, the previous Democrat speaker of the house, works to be speaker again. Other democrats work to unseat her.

Personally, I do not wish to see Ms. Pelosi as speaker. I have soured on people from my generation (baby boomers) as leaders for this country. I feel the last twenty to thirty years of baby boomer leadership has been fairly abysmal and contentious for the country. So I want new blood, with new ideas, with new energy.

Whoever is picked requires enough experience to navigate the politics to get things done, but not so much experience that they are rooted into the old conflicts, instead of compromise. I do not care if the next speaker is a man or a woman. I do not care about their racial or religious background. I do care if they are effective.

The problem with any new person who is promoted to speaker is that future performance cannot be predicted when new responsibilities are involved.

Another problem may be that whoever is chosen as speaker will have the same old republicans blocking the way forward to reasonable compromise. Maybe the newly elected republicans will be less obstructive, maybe not.

Time will tell.

Love & Light




Hmm. What to write.

It is the kind of morning where creativity has gone AWOL. In fact it has been AWOL for a few days of poetry writing. This periodic creativity disappearing act is normal for me.  I like to think my creativity is on a beach in the Virgin Islands debating on whether to get a tan or apply sun screen. Since it is November, it could be that all the Rocky Mountain river runners are doing their winter gigs in the Caribbean, teaching sea kayaking, thus my creativity receives instruction from someone I may know.

My usual creative pattern is I am creative for about three months, then creativity goes away for a few weeks. Some people call this “goes away” duration A dry well filling.

A lot of books are written about creativity and being creative and releasing your inner creativity. Some of those authors have made large sums of money and become something akin to folk heroes to their fans. I read one of those books a little over twenty years ago: The Artist’s Way. It did not teach me anything I did not know. It did emphasize the need to work at it every day.

So is Creativity a skill or a divine spark. I say a skill. It is something a person practices. With all skills, some people have a natural talent for it.  In some cases a person has a greater love for the creative skill, thus puts more time into the practice.

Tools required for practicing creativity: curiosity, an understanding that failure is part of the process, vulnerability, setting aside time every day to work on your creative pursuit.

Curiosity. Every creative person I have ever known has abundant curiosity. They want to explore. They want to learn new ways of using their art (form of expression / work). They just know that there is more and better way than the accepted method or current social accepted themes.

Failure. If you are afraid to fail, you most likely will not be creative. Creativity is often achieved by degrees of revision. In other words, if you start at Thought A and wish to create you way to brand new thought B, there are hundreds of little steps (failures) taken between the two.  If you are lucky, there is an “ah-hah” moment that takes a short cut. Usually “ah-hah” happens somewhere after you have completed half the required little steps to get to brand new thought B.

Vulnerability. This is often coupled with failure, because so many people are afraid of failing and being the momentary fool in others’ eyes. What I am pointing out is the openness to the unspoken, intuition, your inner voices. Many people shut out their intuition and inner voices, because those two experiences do not conform. There is nothing wrong with conforming, but creativity is non-conforming. In fact, creativity is by nature chaotic. Not total chaos, but breaking up of accepted patterns chaotic.

Time. Over the years I have spoken with many people who wish to be artistic, musical, expressive, but really are not willing to put in the time. Or set aside the time. Most of them have excellent reasons. The most common of which is kids. They invest their time into their children (very creative in itself if you think about it). What I am saying is you must make a conscious decision to be creative X hours a day. I suggest you pick a bare minimum of one hour a day. Usually, the first half hour of your set aside creative time is unloading the BS of the day that disrupts creativity. Once you have decided on how many hours to spend at your creative skill, build it into your schedule, then be disciplined enough to do it every day or at least 5 days a week.

Artists (poetry being my art) as a whole have a reputation of being depressed or troubled. Not all of them, but enough to earn that rep’. In my mind, in my case, the creativity exists for two reasons. One) to find a way of expressing the un-expressible from life traumas. Two) to distract me as the traumas surface from time to time to interfere with average American life. The worse the trauma, the greater the need for distraction, thus the more creative, sometimes too far out for most people. Art is a better distraction vehicle than whiskey (alchohol or your choice of chemical drugs), though many artists combine the two (think Hemingway and most rock bands).

Not all creative people are depressed or suffer trauma. For many curiosity is enough. Or passion about the subject. Example: when optic fibers were invented the signal did not travel far enough to be of much value, but a guy in AT&T’s R&D department kept futzing with the signal so it could travel farther and farther. Eventually he got the signal to go five-thousand miles before it required boosting. At five-thousand miles optic fibers became economically viable.

Each day when you start your creative hour, do not let little things stop you. This morning I did not know what to write in this blog. I simply started writing and a topic showed up on its own accord. In my early days of being a poet, I kept a daily journal that I would free write for an hour. Some days would start with these written lines repeated: “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.” Eventually writing “I don’t know what to write” repeatedly loosened up a subject and I grabbed it and was scribbling furiously with my imperfect script.

To arrive at completed art, creativity requires the partner of editing (for writers). They utilize different parts of the brain and should be done separately.  For me, they are done on different days when practical.


Love & Light