Long Low Notes

The fog plays its horn section
over the woodwinds.

A ghost emerges wearing only
my memories.

She wraps a moonbeam
shawl around her shoulders.

She traces my body
with murder scene chalk.

Against my will
I cry myself out of sleep.

My hands reach out
to pull her close.

The fog plays its horn section
over the woodwinds.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Blue

Bluegrass. Horse worship.
My old Kentucky home.

Blue moon. Bourbon perfectly aged.
Coal country opioid agony.

Blue bruise. Horsewhip.
Too much porn viewed out of boredom.

Blue ink. Loan application.
Fake identity running ahead of the law.

Blue mood. Memory wreck.
Gravity draws down half-broken.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Miles & Years Away

In my mind’s night
memory fields blossom
with an abstract
of what I have lived.

How can I feel
you chew your tobacco
when you are buried
in your threadbare jeans?

Or that happy hour
when that first burn slick
of Kentucky bourbon
scarred my throat.

If I add a shot before sleep
my memory fields bloom
with father’s work
when he was a teen

clearing by hand
all the weeds from between
long green rows
of waist-high maize

with his farmer’s tan
contrasting against
his sweat soaked white t-shirt
crossed by brown suspenders.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

There Now

Twenty-seven years gone
but my dog is young again
riding shotgun in the car
with her nose pressed
to the crack in the window.

Speed generated wind
brings her a thousand stories
as the great plains
rise gently toward the Rockies
and the forest trails we once walked.

For old times sake
I pull off the highway
for a quarter pounder
and buy her a cheeseburger
that she’ll consume in one bite.

Eventually I park the car
at a trailhead on the Spanish Peaks.
Even her golden ghost refuses
to jump out the open door and walk
the trail up to where the thunder gods hangout.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Last Call

Paul presses the tart O of his kiss
against a soft cheek
then recoils from the sharp slap
that raises a welt upon his face.

His tongue tastes the smoke
released from her resentment.
A flame flashes as his hand
refuses to let go her shirt sleeve.

He starts to pull her back
for round two with better aim,
but a low blow crumples his
bloated beer body.

Paul feels lumber hands
heft him as easy as an axe.
The door opens to neon, the moon,
the toss, the skid on icy concrete.

Immediate couples skirt
his sidewalk bruising
and brush against a blue Ford
as they retreat to the nearest home.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Matted Carpet

Once a boy reaches a point
so far into the woods
the world of his childhood
seems hopelessly lost,
he un-zippers his mouth
and screams
with such primal agony
that leaves turn
from red and yellow
to brown and fall.

At the edge of the woods
his mother fears
the forest monster
that bellowed its agony
must be fearsomely wounded
thus dangerous
and she goes back into the house
for the shotgun
unsure if it will protect her
from the beast if it emerges.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Disrobing

I thought I was home.
I was in the arctic.

I climbed out of my father
and left his body upon the ice.

The relative temperature felt the same
against bare skin.

I mean I left behind his behaviors I learned
through childhood observation.

I mean I never want my hand
to make a fist to teach a lesson.

Not even to punch a hole
through the darkness in search of light.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Struck Matches On The Table

Thin kerosene lamp mantles scream,
throw mud-clod light
upon locust speckled walls
as a turntable spins out
Paint It Black
disconnected from speakers
and the needle-scratch
fishnets this Sodom house,
but never skips
surfing the time warped vinyl
and I furiously search
through my dresser drawers
for something to wear
other than the hand me down
Old Testament God.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Breakup

I know I am not blameless.
I broke most of my promises
to myself, too.

My punishment is searching for you
as dusk settles
in a Grimms’ Fairy Tale forest

I fell asleep under a tree and woke
with scales, a long tail, a smoking snout
and heartburn.

I found your footprints in the dirt.
They led into an aspen grove
and away from me.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dissociation

I divorce my brain fog.
I divorce my tear smeared history.

My North Sea storm tossed vessel.
My sandy longing seeking the far shore.

I divorce my random disappearances.
My Civil War battlefield archeology.

I divorce my overindulgences
in dark chocolate and baseball.

I divorce my passive-aggressive taunts.
My afternoon sports talk television.

I divorce my willful ignorance.
My voiceless suffering.

I divorce my penchant for wishbones
long shots and Hail Marys.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney