Movie

In the movie about that dad
who pushes his kids too hard.
He pushes those people
who exploit his kids’s
status as phenoms
just as hard.

I will leave it to you to guess
if the movies shows the kids
playing on grass
playing on a chalk marked field
playing on concrete.

I will leave it to you to guess
if it is a father-son movie
or a father-daughter movie
or if the featured kid
is gay, straight or trans.

I will leave it to you to guess
what type and shape of ball
the kids were phenomenal at playing.
Or if their genius set game pieces
on a checkered board.

I will tell you that no animals
were injured in the making
of this movie.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Giant Steps

The dark told me a story about my father.
How he went to where a meteor fell.
Not to the place where it hit the ground.
But to the place it streaked across the sky.

My father went there to sew up the rip in the sky.
He found stationary lightning
awaiting a tornado’s passage below it
because it did not wish to compete for attention.

He thought of wielding the lighting as his own.
He thought better of that thought
and left the lightning to its own decisions.
It shot downward and split an apple tree.

Finding no rip to sew my father returned from the sky.
He first touched his foot on a mountain.
He second touched his foot on the river below the mountain.
His third stopped on the top doorstep.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Goldenrod

When I finished my self-defense class
my guardian angel gave her two-week notice.

Now that she did not have to accompany me incognito
she unfurled her wings for the first time in thirty years.

She stopped cleaning the house
to protect me from everyday germs

as if my self-defense class taught my body
how to fend off strep and nasty bathroom bacteria.

She did polish the door-nobs one last time.
But hung the laundry on a clothesline during pollen season.

I thought that a bit passive-aggressive
since she knew I had juniper allergies.

By the time they dried, my white towels
were a wondrous goldenrod deep into the plush.

She was gone by midnight not to be seen again
and I figured I imagined her giving her two-week notice.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Missouri Compromised

A grasshopper swam
traveled something like
single file
and ate their way
across US lawns
and prairie
so a single line
in the country’s grass
stood out
when astronauts
looked down
from the international
space station.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Open Door Policy

Stained glass brings to light
biblical stories from the Gnostic editions.

Lori’s catechism
did not recognize the imagery or parables.

The pews appear to be made of silver
but are shiny gray carbon fibers

spun out of the flowing hairs
God shed walking the earth.

There is no reliquary
with bits and pieces of saints and martyrs.

The rose window above the apse
was created with cut crystals

that spay the entire sanctuary
with daylight broken into rainbows.

Lori vacuums the carpets free
of holy body bread crumbs

and dabs the holy blood wine spills
out of the burgundy carpet

after some homeless folks save themselves
and exit a few minutes before she arrives.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Greener Grasses

In my month of tending family plots
in the village cemetery
I noticed not one member of my family
rested for eternity within this gated community.

My tendency to open whiskey bottles
folks left for the dead
went unnoticed
as acorns fell from stately oaks.

I set shot glasses into the sod
and filled the clear glass to the white line
only to learn my efforts turned
a stray dog into a lush.

I wondered if the little dolls
leaned against gravestones
felt abandoned by the survivors
or were happy to be by their loved one?

Once they wilted, I removed all the flowers
that failed to fill open wounds
of the huddled bereaved
who muttered words they meant to say in life.

Some days whispers licked my ears
and I thought the dead a bit forward
with all their advice on how to outlast
bottles and jukebox dancing to last call.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Unfound Millions

My diligent ancestors
built a farm out of the wilderness
back when central Illinois
was wilderness.

At the time there was no
nearby town
so they were not
on the first Illinois maps.

My not-diligent ancestor
drank too much whiskey
every day of his life
and did foolish things while inebriated.

He once drove a team of horses
into the root cellar
mistaking its open doors
for horse barn.

All the horses died.
The fact he did not die that day
was a firm indication of the depth
of great grandmother’s Christian devotion.

If my not-diligent ancestor
had been born back
when there was no town nearby
whiskey would not have been available.

I never understood my diligent ancestors
where family history explained
that my not-diligent ancestor
always had money for whiskey and cigarettes.

Back in his life span
cigarette packs had baseball cards.
I searched musty boxes for days
seeking Honus Wagner and Cy Young.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Opportunity

Paul shortcut through a field.
It was not planted yet.

He could not tell his diary
if it was a cornfield.

The farmer had spread manure.
So to Paul it was a cow-barn field.

He had cleaned several cow barns in his life
thus knew the smell.

His squishy steps failed to elicit taps
when he tap danced part of the field.

It was a large field
so the flies did not swarm in his path.

The field’s bouquet filled his nose
with life’s promise.

He spat regularly into the field
so he might leave a little bit of himself behind.

The field would add microscopic amounts
of his DNA to the corn.

He imagined some crows eating an ear of corn
and thinking my that tasted like Paul.

Paul knew if he fell he would laugh at himself
until his new manure-mud-clown face dried.

He arrived at a post at the edge of the field
with a help wanted sign. It read scarecrow.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lender

Six-twelve a.m.
The sun slowly enters
the lens and shaft
of a telescope
that last night
peeked at Saturn’s rings.

The white horse
walks the circuit
of the pasture fence
knowing it takes me
eight minutes
to get my boots
and hat on
before tending her.

A hornet drifts
bloom to bloom
where the honeysuckle grows
and avoids
several butterflies’
erratic flight paths.

This is my only map
to the center of the universe
and if you must borrow it
you need to lift the corner
at the hill top
before rolling it up
so it is easy to carry.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Rant 22 March 2022

The murderers
three degrees removed
from the deceased
are rarely convicted
even when
the neighborhood’s
soothsayer compass
points directly
at them.

That does not mean
the police
do not dangle
fishhooks with
some undetermined bait
hoping to lodge the barbs
in the criminal’s throat
and not just
the soft fleshy cheek
where the hook
can tear free
with a yank.

It is not like
this poorer neighborhood
can use hallway mirrors
as magical portals
to escape the violence
of the gun toting teens
in search of belonging.

Especially when
the church steps
are not safe
from drive-by revenge
that accuses God
of not caring enough
to bend over
and wipe the stinking
dog shit
from his shoe
before entering
his holy house.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney