House Divided

My driver’s name is my name.
Chauffeur and passenger simultaneously.
Sometimes while in conversation with myself,
I become misplaced on a highway
that is not my destination’s highway.
Somedays, the highways know best
where I am truly headed.

On those somedays, I ask myself
Where are we headed?
I never know, but I trust the highway
like it is a black asphalt angel.
In the upper midwest, it is a grey concrete angel.
In the desert southwest, it can be a red clay angel.

In April, the highway took me
all the way to Appomattox, Virginia.
I guess I needed a beginning to an end.
Reasonable terms for the cessation of hostilities.
The highway just informed me
it is time for me to end my divided war.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Drum Minor

I marched the football field.
One end to the other end repeatedly.
I scored a great many touchdowns.
No one kept score.

I marched as much as humanly possible
in a non-marshal manner.
I did carry a long paper tube baton and twirled it,
but that was to keep mosquitoes away.

Much of the time I marched I pretended
I was part of a drum and bugle corp band.
The rest of the time I marched I pretended
I was a protester near the White House.

There was some overlap in my pretending.
It was not my intention to interrupt
the President’s tea with India’s ambassador
with a hundred and twenty bandmates.

The geese at the nearby lake
paid me little heed after they learned
that I did not bring them any bread
and honked their disappointment.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Redemption Story

Forlorn in the feeling his god forsook him,
Paul sprints through four beers,
then muddles through five more.

He keeps his eye on the bathroom door
as if his god will return from taking a piss
and sidle up next to him, suggest a game of foosball.

Paul looks through the window to old glory across the street.
At this hour, in a rain storm, the flag looks much bedraggled.
So much so, god’s will seems to have abandoned it.

He exits. He sits on the street curb between parked cars.
The gutter water washes a drugstore bag to his feet.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap.

Paul strips. He starts washing with gutter water.
The rainwater rinses his body. He raises his head,
mouth open for the rainwater to rinse his mouth.

The energy to replace his clothes on his body is absent.
He sits on the curb between two parked cars.

A commotion in the bar’s alley jumps him.
He stands and sparks to the brick building corner
and peers down the sodden alley.

Three men attack a woman and rip her clothes.
Her teeth gleam in the narrow light.
The street lamp bends around the corner into the alley.

Stark naked, Paul stands in the alley.
He jumps up and down screaming, splashing a puddle.
He makes ape sounds. He makes elephant sounds.

In his loudest voice, he trumpets I Sing the Body Electric.
A flash blinds everyone in the alley.
An instantaneous boom deafens everyone in the alley.

Some bricks fall from the top of the building.
Paul feels his god has his back.
He picks up a fallen brick and advances on the three men.

The stunned men exit stage right,
leave the woman behind scared, but unharmed,
though soaked through to the gooseflesh skin.

Paul returns to his clothes at the curb, retrieves them.
The rain splashes his naked walk home. The woman
authors a cursive signature on his back with her eyes.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

University Girlfriend

The evening after I read your obituary,
you crawled into bed with me.

Your spirit did not muss the sheets
or bend the mattress.

Your voice could have been the breeze,
but the breeze never tells me to eat more avocados.

In your sleepy whisper you recite the lord’s prayer,
but change father to sister.

Your last goodnight is to the birds
as they tuck themselves into the cholla.

Your breathing eased, my breathing eased as well.
Your slight snore signaled you slept. I slept.

All these years and still you snuggle your back into me.
But farther in than in life.

So it is, I wake alone. Dirt from your grave on my hands.
An indelible track shimmers the air.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Demens

I returned to the kitchen.
I’d been gone since breakfast.
No one was there.

A broken egg spread on the floor.
The brown broken shell.
The whites like mica.
The yoke intact.

I did not drop it.
I cannot imagine a burglar stealing an egg.
Only to drop it.

I have no memory of dropping it.
Maybe the burglar stole my memory.
My memory of dropping an egg.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

The title Demens is the Latin root of the word dementia. It means: out of one’s mind.

Dianne suggested that egg whites look like mica when spread on the floor. I did not believe her at first, but the internet provided photos of mica and I have to tip my hat to her for the suggestion. Well done.

Love & Light

Kenneth

Swoosh

Paul skirted a gentle invitation
to join a girl on a front porch
passed on an oak-shaded walk
by flawlessly manicured lawns
and flowers put to bed early
on a Thursday evening.
Ellie on the porch swing
offered no second chance,
but kissed her palm, leveled it,
then blew in Paul’s direction.
Such a lovely goodbye
flew into the soupy dusk,
but was stolen by a bluejay
that cleft the red-orange clouds
on its homeward flight.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Flap

Paul moves his back muscles
in a manner he thinks will grow wings.
He checks the mirror each morning.
He blows no smoke on his torso.

Paul spends an hour each day
meditating on the blue sky wanting it—
the wings. Not to emphasize his angelic nature,
but to pursue his wish to soar on thermals.

He studies the animated motions of the dinosaurs
that turned into the first birds
to get the arm movements correct to build muscle,
while he pictures his body hair evolving into feathers.

When honesty frosts the mirror, it tells him
his wings will be as flightless as the emu’s.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney