Remainder Of The Day

In sepia
a photograph
captured
a girl dressed in
Victorian garb
mid yawn.

It captured
blur as well
since period cameras
had long
exposures.

A thumbtack
holds the photo
to a corkboard.
Three other holes
dot the top edge
of the paper.

Written in cursive script
by a person
with excellent penmanship
is the line
Lily Powell in the parlor.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Old West

Several floors below heaven
a passing train startles Paul awake.

His cotton mouth misspeaks
the planet’s name to a oompah band’s brass.

This unintentional misdirection
opens a seam in the universe to another

where twenty-seven children
wear cardigans and sob at the direction

of an orchestra conductor
lifting a photogenic baton.

Paul wets his face at a hands-free faucet
while portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte

and Thomas Jefferson eye each other
from adjacent sides of the mirror.

Paul notices his doll-skin pallor.
He thinks this a clue to contact his therapist.

But is afraid to interrupt happy hour
half way around the globe.

As he towels water off his face
a gunmetal quote appears on the mirror’s surface

as a cloud wishing thunder
not Smith & Wesson shots fired in a hold up

of the morning train’s mail car
as it clickity-clacks out of Dodge City, Kansas.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Prepackaged

It was the Battle Cry of Freedom
that woke Paul to feel
the blue exhilaration of Appomattox.

Throughout the day
he asked all of his friends
if they heard it too.

But they were all too busy
preparing for commercial airline flights
reversing the middle passage in coach.

Paul then turned to the pink flamingos
wading in the swimming pool
filled with water too electric to be real.

He saw they were not wet
and the one bather was suspended
like a banana slice in vibrant blue jello.

For the first time since waking
Paul considered he might be dreaming
and sleep’s storm tossed ocean

tried to message him
with a reconstruction image
destined for his conscious mind.

He tried to be calm
and hear his inner voice speak
but received only Christmas carols

way too early in the season
with Halloween a few days into the future
and a wicker basket

filled with a variety of bite-sized candy bars
ready for the doorbell to ring
with little surprises.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pieces Falling Into Place

In your bedroom
a package of chocolate chip cookies
rests on the unkempt sheets
waiting for you to eat the surviving half.

From the swollen cookie crumbs
in the bottom of a nightstand tumbler
that smells like whiskey
I deduce it will be later today

when you right-swipe
more photos of women
a couple years younger
than the fifty you recently turned

so the money you spent
on condoms is not wasted.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

All American Breakfast

You poured a bowl
of fireworks for breakfast.

This diet explains
your star spangled disposition.

Your glorious flag
leans upon your shoulder

as if seeking comfort
like a child.

In solidarity, I let you
finger paint the stars and stripes

on my left cheek
but refused to wear

an Uncle Sam suit
to visit your homing pigeon roost.

I checked the freshness date
of your boxed pyrotechnics

and found the red
had an earlier expiration

than either the white
or the blue.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Your Side Of The Bed

I see you have a new
boa constrictor.

Your voice tells it
to stop crushing the elephant

decorated comforter
or you’ll put it out to the dog house.

Last year’s dandelion puffs
cloud your bathtub

in place of fragrant
bath bubbles.

This prevents you from
soaking too long

thus pruning your skin
into a bushel of peri-wrinkles.

Our dog started eating
the boa constrictor’s tail

just as the boa swallowed
our dog’s tail

in the imitation
of something mythic

I once heard you murmur
between your petite snores.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

You Wonder Why I Am Not Home

I dropped my pants
in plain view of everyone watching.

There was no one watching.
I was in the wilderness.

I stood adjacent to the tree
that stopped my downward tumbling.

My tumbling started
when I forgot to pay attention.

The wisp of ice on the trail
gave me no warning.

Warning people is not part of ice’s
job description.

I dropped my pants
to be sure no leg bones were broken.

That proves my head hit the tree too
because when a femur breaks

it breaks out of its fleshy container
in a very messy no-standing-up manner.

The sun hurt my brain behind my eyes.
It was on its descent.

I began limping past the nausea.
The trail was mostly downhill

to the trailhead and the car
two point four miles away.

There was enough fresh blood
in the scrapes and cuts

to draw any animal with a good nose.
All predators have good noses.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Glass Houses

We built a house of glass.
We kept throwing stones.

The glass we used was bullet proof.
Thrown stones bounced off.

The seals were not tight enough.
Rain entered the house.

After the rain the sun shown in.
Greenhouse effect fogged the glass walls.

Our glass foundation unintentionally formed
an expansive ant farm.

The glass ceiling gave us
the spectacle of lightning storms.

We threw stones at passing clouds
to burst them before reaching our house.

Often the thunderheads
dropped hailstones in response.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Drink

We dig the well
deep under white sands—
not deep enough
to escape the click-click-click
of the geiger counter.

Your desperation is so great
you claim out loud
that coffee and boiling
neutralize excited particles
and half-lives.

We dig the well
deeper than the old ocean bed
and the calcified remains
of animals that pre-existed
dinosaurs.

I pour you a glass
of water so clear
it bridges back to an era
when this land mass
was equatorial.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Persistence

Delphi tells new people she meets
they wear the face of God.

Those people who see
a demon in the mirror

choose not to believe her
for at least ten hearings.

It is only after the twelfth time
a crack in their marble facades

appears in the faintest
glimmer of a smile

that the unassumed dare
might contain an ecstasy.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney