Garden Spots

I’ve wandered this desert so long,
the shitty little towns
appear inviting.

Each one has two or three saloons
per gas station
and stray dogs by the dozens.

Occasionally I spot
a state patrol car outside a diner
and presume a waitress-romance

seeing as not much else
seems to be in play
to sustain a single person.

The wild horses, heads down,
approach watered yards
and anything growing green.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Clover Leaf

With a finger pressed
in chiseled white letters,
Delphi rubs silence
from the stones lining Arlington,
washes once bellicose soldiers
with an old prayer recited,
hears the long roll of drums.
Her bare feet press the echo
of church bells into the ground
beyond the bent green grass
grown about the singular flower
of the old Second Corp.

Copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


This is another poem from my past as I regroup from a week of spare creativity. Tomorrow will have a new poem, recent poem.

Father On His Son’s Birthday

Alone, on the old Manassas Battlefield,
I wait for you, for what you might be,
what I might become. I sit
on the thick grass near the Robinson House
and listen to the voices of birds,
the voices of the old bronze monuments,
the voices on the wind as it moves through the branches.

If you have grown into yourself, as I hope,
how will I recognize your voice,
the different tread of your footsteps,
the recent histories you speak?

Lonely, I walk down to the stone bridge—
Bull Run flows as it has for years uncounted—
to the new road that layers itself
upon the old road that once carried limbers
and their combative cannon.

Lonely, I trust that our battles ended,
that a reconstruction of our friendship
returns like the song birds
to find the berries ripe upon the branches,
like the farmers who till the fields
as all their forefathers before them.

If you have grown into yourself, as I hope,
you do not need me anymore,
do not require my advice or guidance.
Boldly, you make your own history.

Alone, on the old Manassas Battlefield,
I walk the slight path past the farm ford
and up the flanks of Matthews Hill
where Evans once stood up to Burnside,
where you, my son, first stood up to me.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I ran out of new work that I felt good enough to post, since I had a tough writing week where creativity was scarce. This poem is from my book Fluid Shape Of An Empty Womb. It is one of my all time favorites of my own poems.


A man we tabbed
Bunny Foo Foo
goes about
bopping city rats
upon the head
then loads
the limp bodies
into a garden size
trash bag
and lugs it around
he goes.

There is a place
below the streets
where he lays
the bodies out
in long neat ranks
and files.
He sprinkles them
with mushroom spores
in an effort to recreate
the fugal forests
from Journey
to the Center
of the Earth.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


An idea turns my head
to the night-dark sky

and I ask, Why is Heaven
placed in all that emptiness?

I lost myself looking up
and fell into simple easy breathing.

I move to relax
under a late Autumn elm tree.

I notice how its slim branches
connect stars

the tips plug into the sky
and channel Heaven into Earth’s soil.

I reach my hand up, fingers spread,
to accomplish the same.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A dog waits for the right person.
Her nose records stories.

The right person will know her name.
There will be a ball of the right size.

It will not squeak.
No squeaky toys!

The yard will house three point two squirrels.
She will keep the squirrels treed.

The person will understand her contract
prohibits killing squirrels.

As long as they stay in trees.
On the ground—fair game.

Her right person will not use her
to torment frightened people onto slave ships.

Her right person allows laborers to unionize
and drive hard, but fair bargains.

No rounding up cattle.
They have enough problems.

In a famine her right person
will share the last scrap of food with her.

She half-closes her eyes
and sniffs more stories as they walk by.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Simple & Ruinous Hunger

In the air this morning
a fog lingered
a few feet above the ground.

Droplets congregated
on the window
over the deck.

The mountain lion
blended into the wildflowers
and fog—or mist.

I might have missed it
if not for the goat
it carried through the yard.

At the next count,
my neighbor will recognize
the vacancy in his pasture.

Unless I inform him
that the mountain lion
took his goat

and ate it behind my toolshed
where the tarp extends past
two cords of firewood.

Though I knew,
once my neighbor knew,
he would lay in wait

and some near morning
I would hear the report
of his rifle.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dora arranged giraffes
like flowers
in the fenced backyard
instead of a vase.

We thought their heads
would turn like flowers
toward the arcing sun,
but they peered north
over the roof
toward the noisy kids
playing kickball in the street
between speed bumps.

And one giraffe
strained to lick the green kite
the next door neighbor girl
flew not too high
afraid a low cloud
might snatch it away.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Head Turning

In the yard next door
a bucket of frogs croak
unable to bump
the blue plate set atop it
as a lid.

My neighbor
wishes them good and hungry
when evening arrives
with its mosquitos
that breed in the little pond
with red and gold koi.

If my stone wall
were any taller
I would know none of this
from our conversation
as I trim the lilac bush
so the sunflowers
catch the late rays.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney