One Wendy Evening

Lori flew over Albuquerque
testing out her newly acquired x-ray vision.

She saw skeletal people in bone density light
with their faces glued to televisions.

Younger people’s skeletal faces were glued
to their smartphone screens held in boney hands.

Lori failed to see what was on either type of screen
since her x-ray vision did not display the actor’s bones.

She returned her x-ray vision for a full refund
because she mistakenly believed she would see boners.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Thought Bubble

Paul looks at his reflection in a river.
He looks at his reflection in a bubble
the river glides through his reflected face.

Beyond his facial reflection
He notices a fish eye lined up
with his reflected eye.

Paul likes the idea of his face reflecting
clouds as they traverse the sky
southwest to northeast.

He pictures himself talking to Lori
as clouds cross his face
and a Coopers Hawk crosses his face.

Paul reexamines his reflection in the river
now that the bubble moved downstream
and a twig with two leaves glide over his reflection.

While he is busy reflecting on his reflection
a frog hops near him, then leaps
to splash his reflected face all over his face.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

First Boy to Set Foot on This Land

The city is longer than it is wide.
The city is no longer there.
The absolute forest uprooted it.

Our machines tire of their slavery.
They commit suicide.
They hope to return to their original ores.

The ocean advances forever up the shore.
It removes houses from beachfront property.
It moves the beach to fill foundations.

A kite urges the boy to give it more twine.
The ball of twine is a ball no more.
The boy unknots the twine from the spindle.

The kite flies over what was once a beachfront city.
The forest now negotiates with the advancing sea.
The soil is rich in minerals.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


By writing a letter to Paul
Lori realized all the others she knew
who deserved letters.

Before she finished Paul’s letter
she made of list
of everyone she should write.

Twenty-eight. If each month was February
one person a day for a month—
not counting leap year.

Since Lori became bored
writing the same thing over and over
she found new daily details to include.

The rain spotted the window on Monday.
She sliced carrots to dip in cream cheese on Tuesday.
The thrasher fledglings left the nest on Wednesday.

Paul read about the salt shaker
and pepper mill being refilled
and placed back on the cherry dining table.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mary Virginia

I thought of Jennie Wade
when I watched city workers
operate heavy equipment
to remove an equestrian statue
of Robert E. Lee.

She would have lived past twenty
if Lee did not direct his army
into Pennsylvania.

Think of all the bread dough
she would have kneaded.

Jennie might have married
and had her own children
instead of helping her sister Georgia Anna
take care of a new born.

Jennie was first buried in the back yard
then the cemetery at the German Reform Church
and at last moved to Evergreen Cemetery
about a year after Lincoln gave his famous address.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Jennie Wade at Wikipedia


Dora likes to watch the hands of women
work kitchen tools
as they prepare food for supper.

She tells herself
which illness each foodstuff cures
as it is added to the pot.

One woman spreads butter
on bread slices—
thin veils of yellow over deep tan.

Another woman mixes sugar, butter and vanilla
into milk to make icing for a cake
cooling on a wire rack.

All of this for the boy whose vulgar mouth
earned him a face-slap yesterday.
But he turns twelve today.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


On bad nights I make three brown-bag lunches.
At the bottom of each bag rests a saltine I crushed in my hand.

I sing an ear worm out into the open.
I fear it laid eggs while in my head.

I feel funny addressing the dead out loud.
An odd sharing from an unmeasurable distance.

My body feels as if it must support itself
three millimeters above the ground.

My ear hears the earth sing back to me
a new variation of celestial motion.

It is odd how the weight of living
causes the sensation of the body rising from the ground.

In the morning I will choose a brown bag to take to work.
I always choose the one on the left side of the refrigerator.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


A thin line of cherubs haloed Mount Wheeler.
I spied them from William’s Lake.

I was there to be by myself to meditate.
Forty people picnicked.

At first I thought the cherubs a smoke ring
blown by a humorous god.

When the cherubs passed over
remaining patches of snow, I recognized them.

A bearded prophet abandoned his mountain cave.
He walked past the picnickers.

He snatched a chicken leg
and an unattended can of Coke.

As he passed I heard him mutter repeatedly
Fucking little harp playing shits.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


God is a cooperative set of souls.
Like cells in the body.

The whole is greater
than the sum of its parts.

No matter how strong the individual
it is weaker than even a pair.

Temporarily, we are separated into bodies
to learn. To learn to see the unity.

We learn the smallness of singularity.
The joy of gathering and team.

We assemble, disperse and reassemble
like water forming clouds.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


People in their capacity
to be both yes and no
is instructive
as to why we should all
study quantum mechanics
and super positions
to understand
the love-hate relationships
that string us together
with an orbital wobble.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney