Paul holds a fist full of crickets.
He fears they are suicidal.

They launched themselves
from the grassy bank

into the lazy stream
filled with trout.

The fish he snatched
the crickets away from

gives him an accusatory stare
and he worries

his saving the crickets
condemns the fish to hunger.

One cricket squeezes through Paul’s fingers
and launches itself into the current.

The fish gobbles up the cricket
then swims away from Paul’s empty hand.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

An interesting TED talk by Ed Yong about parasites in nature is at this link.

Below the News Helicopters

Our Friday ritual was to meet up
and walk the bosque
down by the Rio Grande
and stop for a late breakfast
at Flying Star cafe.

A fire burned a reported thirty acres
on both sides of the river
and the smoke made our walk

We watched two fire companies
put out hot spots
on a computer screen
as our drone rose high enough
over the backyard to view the action.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Closed With I Love You

My daughter’s voice
tumbled zeros and ones
into new configurations
on a phone company server bank.

Hearing her voice
thirty-one years after her death
droned my chest
with fluctuating neural signals.

Those skipped heartbeats
I will never get back.
My extremities blued
as I listened to her message.

The closing beep
signaled back to normal
at an unconscious level
of mental processing.

I smacked myself on the forehead
for automatically hitting delete
instead of replay
to hear her voice again.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

It Comes

When Paul sits outside at night
with dark spread everywhere
he pretends a window
keeps the bugs away from him.

He set a mirror against the south wall
at an angle to view the moon
to double the number
of reflections of the sun’s light.

Though we stay up all night
it needs to be minus six degrees
before dew forms
on the grass or our bodies.

The neighbor’s cat
is surprised and perplexed
to find us occupying the chair cushions
it likes to sleep on.

Paul posts an invitation
for the sun to rise over the Sandias
and delivery is guaranteed
by this morning.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul walked under a canopy of alders—
a thirty year restoration of a dry lightning burn.

He wondered if the earth saw the area
fire-voided trees as a scar

as part of the beauty of the earth being itself
or a surface matter of little consequence.

Animals repopulated the alders as to their liking.
Others remained away missing the old growth.

Paul admitted to no one present
that the shade was different. Cooling but different.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tumbleweed Collected on the Backstop

I woke to the complaint of trees—
too much carbon in the air
was making them fat.

I read in a science magazine
that not enough water
reduced photosynthesis.

I imagined both
shoving an entire Big Mac in my mouth
and not being able to chew.

No pollen floating in the air
is a sneeze-less wonder
and down right scary.

The future plays hide and seek
and the distant skyline
now appears to be an event horizon.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


All summer Paul drifted in and out of shade.
His inconstant blue was not the color of sky.

Each day the people he encounter
spoke of a new shooting in a grocery, school or church.

His patience with congress wore thin
thus exposing his anger.

He hid his anger by walking miles each day
and in the distraction of stadium lights.

Then Uvalde, Texas took place
and his anger grew too large to hide.

Paul wrote emails and letters to his congress person.
He left as many as twelve phone messages a day.

He knew he wished to punch
a second amendment braggart in the face

so he avoided bars and the parts of the ballpark
that served beer and margaritas.

For the first time since university
he entered a church so he may pray with others.

He noticed their fear at his unfamiliar face.
He removed himself from their nervousness.

He removed himself to the woods
where he would listen to God in a stand of trees.

As he listened to all vectors of God’s voice entering him
he noticed three tree trunks lodged bullets.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


When I saw the quadrangle
of your face done up in the style of Andy Warhol
I thought of Mao. Not Monroe.

In the lower right corner was your name
proving you remember the skills you learned
earning your art degree

before you chose a quicker path
to fame and fortune
and the decadence that tags along.

I knew I was on camera outside your door
but not inside each room
as we discussed an exhibition of Dürer prints.

Your patterned wallpaper with rows and rows
of Adam Smith and dollar signs
made unrecognizable to me the world you live in now

compared to our days at University
and the answers you stole from my test sheets
to get through that economics distribution credit.

At your kitchen counter you strained the flecks
out of the Goldschläger
before you served it on the rocks.

That cinnamon burn released your tongue
to critique the ink stains on my fingers
and why your understanding of Darwin

does not explain how artists
refrain from starving to death long enough
for the current culture to lean into their vision.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lori Carried Antlers

Some days the sky requires piercing
and a twist to gut it so rain falls.

Other days the antlers must be donned
to lead ungulates to new grazing.

Yesterday the antlers dissuaded a rattler
from crossing an open space

where a nearby eagle
waited and spied atop a dead cottonwood.

Tomorrow Lori will poke a proselytizing devotee
of their lord Jesus in the ribs

while shaking a gourd
with her baby teeth sealed inside.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lori Took a Seat in the Kiva

She heard the wind
skim over the mesa
and drop a little dust
through the opening.

This was not a trespass
of a national park treasure
or an invitation
on to the reservation.

Some white man with money
built a retreat and conference halls
far enough from the city
so the city lights did not dim the stars.

Alone with a rectangle of noon light
she sat on the stone paved floor
with her back against the wall
and thought about killing conquistadors.

This was the effect of reading
about Juan de Oñate
and his bloody determination
to end revolts and uprisings.

The light dimmed as a border collie
poked its head in the opening
above the ladder
and Lori looked up.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney