A father sledgehammers his son
with the “big boys don’t cry” lie.

The son learns to cry
in his own time, his own space.

There is a large rock upon the mountain
that collects his tears in a granite bowl.

The steel of the son’s spirit
strikes sparks upon the rock with each drop.

The son realizes the polished steel
is a looking glass and a weapon.

He chooses to use that steel
to prop his eyes open to the light.

In that light, he discerns the generational pain
lashed to his father’s hard words.

The son searches family photo albums
to learn what is long gone and sharply missed.

The photos devolve from color,
to black and white, to a stiff sepia.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Should Be Transparent

Paul takes the term locked and loaded,
applies to his state of stubbornness and inebriation,
looks down the barrel of another beer can,
digs in the desert soil with bare hands
and replants a prickly pear his bare foot knocked over.

There is a cage called his apartment.
Lori disassembled all her illusory barricades,
then mined the sofa for change
to pay tolls on the road out of Paul’s life.
She left no note.

Paul watches a roadrunner size him up
as if it could swallow him whole
or at least peck out his shriveled liver.
He bleeds dots where he removes
spines from his calloused foot.

Lori’s hand bag is full of Paul’s gun metal blues
bullets, bullshit and a turtle rattle.
She intends to pawn these toward her escape.
She presses her tongue against a molar
tastes the last minty swish.

Paul limps back to his car.
The trailhead lot keeps his car stationary
and sand drifts like snow around the tires.
The wind blows a heavy chill laden with grit,
blasts blurry what should be transparent.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


In all the stories
I tell my daughter,
Jesus is a woman.
God is a woman.
The holy ghost
is a nurturing spirit.

In our creation myth
all life exits
an earthly womb
from a crack in the bedrock.

If my daughter was adopted
and brown, red or yellow
the Jesus and God
in our stories
would be the same color.

In our creation myth
there is no Adam,
no Adam’s rib.
Man and Woman
emerged from the earthly womb
together and equal,
requiring the help of the other
to proceed into the land of plenty.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I believe that our myths and religions form much of how we think in our society. Because of this, I think we should create new myths and religions that present the world in a manner more to our striving. The new myths / religions do not need to be totally new. Take what is deemed good from the old (like the golden rule) and add it to the new. Since I find equality of both genders important, my myths promote that cause.

I realize we could debate what equality is under these circumstances. In my mind in equality current male mindset of hierarchies (where is my place in the totem pole and how do I rise) would dissipate. I find it more important to get the needed tasks of society accomplished.

Also, I am tired of Us and Then mentalities. There is Us, no Them. Us encompasses all people. Universal rights of man.

Oh well.

Love and light. Tree and leaf.


If He Returns

My dogs drag home a doe
and pull her up the stairs to the porch
where they tear hunks of flesh and chew.
The drag marks upon the snow
lead three-quarters of a mile
into the wood to where she collapsed—
blood loss from gut-shot trauma.
I follow the drops another half mile
to a slight ravine where a red spray
displays the bullet’s direction
and spot the spruce tree it thudded into.
Nearby, I find human bootprints
that refused to pursue the doe
and finish it off with a mercy blow
then take home the meat.
The bootprints lead to a tree
with wooden rungs up into a blind
vacant except for an empty whiskey flask
and two Egg McMuffin wrappers.
My big waffle stompers
create an easy path to follow
through the snow back to the cabin
as I get tools to dismantle the blind
and relieve the spruce tree from its burden.
I know unless it snows to cover that path
it leads the hunter back to me.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This poem is part truth, part fancy. In the 1980s I lived at the dead end of a dirt road in rural Colorado. My dogs did drag home a dead dear once and pulled it up onto the porch to feast. But that was the end of it as far as truth goes.

It was bad enough being out for walks with my dogs and getting the occasional pot shot taken at us by stupid people who should never have been issued a hunting license. The federal land my acres backed up against were not hunting lands. Those lands were a few miles away. The house got hit twice over four years by shots that missed the target.

When stupid people mistook myself and my dogs for deer, antelope or elk and fired their rifles in our direction, I did get to practice (and increase) my cuss word vocabulary. Due to lack of use in the new century, my cussing is not as colorful as it once was.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.



Pockets of smoke
broken cloud ragged
signal California
another fire erupted
from the Salamander’s
furnace steps
as it drags its tail
up then down
the Pacific Crest trail
charring the dead wood
to clear the way
for a new era.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ash Wednesday

If I stare long enough
I see my father in the rearview mirror
his visage overlapping mine.

A smudge marks
our forehead.
A thumb sized reconciliation.

Now he is distant.
At the far end of a gray, unlined highway.
Deceptive in its twists and turns.

On that highway’s shoulder
the litter of broken promises
as tossed bottles broken to shards cut tread.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul is challenged by a three night stand
as to why he cuddles only after fucking.

He searches for her name under the pillows,
knowing this holiday weekend will soon end.

As he locates her name on the nightstand
under the poetry book The Woman Who Fell From The Sky,

he says, Helen, sex is the only way I know
to remove the protective armor around my heart

He wishes it was not so. He wishes he could
hug for thirty seconds instead of freaking out.

Paul watches her dress in the early slanted light.
Sees a heavenly angelic beauty upon her.

Sees a mythic dragon on the verge
of engulfing him in flames.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney