Pub Food

On Tuesdays it’s quarter beer night
and two hot dogs are seventy-five cents.
That includes each and all of the traditional everything
that can go on a hot dog and bun.

Two hots dogs for seventy-five cents
brings the quality of the hot dogs into question,
unless they were purchased from some chain smoking mob type
at the back of a stolen delivery truck with the motor running.

The quarter beers are limited to domestic national brand taps,
not the local craft beers that are on tap as well.
Got to read the fine print of any advertising poster,
if you only have a dollar to your name.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This is a nostalgia poem. I have not seen quarter beer night since the early 1990s. I have not had only a dollar to my name since the early 1990s either. I do remember the people sitting around the pub, eating bratwurst or hotdogs, drinking our beers and watching baseball in the general camaraderie of the pub. My memory has probably makes the times seem better than they were, but such is the way of memories.

Love & Light



Paul rocked back and forth upon the porch glider.
A lap dog occupied his lap with quiet contentment
as Paul stroked her back.
Dora ignored the kitchen’s stack of dishes.
She typed new species into existence
to replace those who went extinct this year.
Paul watched the rain exit the downspout,
instead of looking through the silvery rain curtain
two arm-lengths before his face.
As the puddles rose through the grass,
he relayed his Noah’s Ark concerns through the kitchen window.
Dora knew better than to let Paul’s fantastical worries
affect her outline of new tiny creatures,
especially the one who seeks out
splintered oak bark exposed at dangling branches.
Paul watched the rain gush a river from the downspout
and its stream disturb the splash dotted puddle-mergers
that now covered all the grass in his normally well manicured yard.
Dora let the rain continue another five minutes
before flicking a kitchen light switch,
which parted the clouds for the sun to shine
in about half the time Milwaukee’s Miller Park roof opens or closes.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Until Tomorrow

Paul, who skips stones across the water,
wonders who loves him.

He knows it is a common ailment
and Indian Pale Ales only treat the symptoms.

He watches the sparrows flock
and feels the green flicker of jealousy cross his eyes.

Paul peels the label off his water bottle.
His fingers plow furrows in his hair.

He looks up at the sky unsure if it is his.
He fingers an Indian head penny he keeps for luck in his pocket.

Luck always has strings attached.
He feels he is a placeholder, like the ‘c’ in luck.

Paul knows he’ll be fed-up with this feeling tomorrow
and will bicycle on country roads all day long.

The sparrows tell him over and over and over,
You need not wait until tomorrow.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Shower First. Clean Clothes

We wake Paul up,
banging with a stick on the downspout outside his window.

The brass doorknob
turns to the low rumble of cuss words strung together.

Twice he cusses me by name.
He flips us the bird when the door opens.

The door remains open as he walks
toward the kitchen and the reprieve of brewing tea.

Dora and I preserve the quiet—
all rituals deserve respect no matter how bent the performance.

Paul introduces the first sips to his lips,
still dressed in ragged red T-shirt and paint speckled sweats.

We say nothing.
Paul runs calculations through his head, Sunday?

Tuesday, Dora laughs
like we were transported through time to university.

Paul holds his hands out
as if we are police who caught him fare and square.

Shower first. Clean clothes, I suggest,
before we drive him to the church hall for twelve-stepping.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Young As You Feel

Paul rolls his eyes.
Paul barrel-rolls his eyes
and dives arms spread fixed-wing-like.

He strafes a line of Hannibal’s elephants
before they enter the Alps
on their way to conquer the Etruscans.

Paul does not care the Romans
conquered and absorbed the Etruscans first
or that his P-Fifty-One Mustang is twenty-one centuries too soon.

He really does not care that he is forty
and this type of make-believe
is normally reserved for children.

Yesterday, he purchased a bottle
of special reserve imagination from the wine steward
at his favorite curiosity shop.

It does not matter that the special reserve imagination
was a can of A&W root beer from a Coca-Cola machine
in the back of the curiosity shop.

Paul considers the inside of his insides
and scans the walls for Peter Pan and Lost Boys graffiti
painted with the red stain of yesterday’s Strawberry Twizzlers.

He finds I won’t grow up repeated forty-one times
across his inside’s insides,
then rounds his P-Fifty-One into another strafing run.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


We are all sinners.
Or so I am told.
It all depends on who is empowered
to define the term.
I hope it is not white men anymore.
I hope it is not Coyote or Loki.

Now I find myself asking,
when does sinning become truly wicked.
I would say it is when you do something
to someone, instead of with them.
I hope my friends create clear and present boundaries.
I hope they always say No to mean No.

Then there is the issue of divine law
verses the changing mores of modern society.
Thank goodness for my LGBT friends.
And my over-sexed philandering friend.
And my friends who cuss up a blue streak.
And my football hotdog stand work of the Sabbath friend.
And my tarot reading, palm reading and phrenologist friends.

We are all sinners.
We all are oysters with some irritant-behavior
around which we build a lustrous pearl.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Loudest Loud Sonnet

It took a while for good words to locate my tongue.
After Trump’s latest border wall speech, I mean.
The scattering is my failure to remain non-judgmental,
to see the long view, my equanimity.

The rain spattered window reflects my
fake it until you make it face.
Sometimes a hot bath is not the cure.
Or chocolate. Or a deep red claret.

These are signs for me to shut off the news:
television, internet, papers, all of it.
Before I scratch my eyes out
or pour concrete into my ears.

A dose of Walt is in order.
I sing the body electric, man, in my loudest loud.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney