No Thought of the Owner

The ocean shrugs off
the broken boards of a boat.

They collect
on the rocky shore.

There is a telephone book
and a bottle of bubbly.

Over there an open guitar case
empty of all music.

And me. I did not wash up
but walked down

through the cedars
to listen to the surf

to the advance and retreat
of water through the rocks.

And because it is there
to hear how that sound differs today

with the scattered boards
and other items as they wash ashore.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The ocean rose during the night.
More than high tide.
More than storm tossed.

It flowed through the first floors
of beach front houses
and unintentionally set two on fire.

It took wharf planks out to sea
for wayward gulls to land on
and curious dolphins to nudge.

The ocean went back down by morning
but left salty puddles
where the depressed land kept souvenirs.

An attempt to get over a little hump.
A new stretching practice.
Like Yoga. But for oceans.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The lady of the lake
sits on a shore-side rock
and looks down
into the placid waters
to see her image.

Behind her image
the sky contains white clouds
that billow into sails
and she believes great undertakings
are about to start.

She decides it is time to take a partner.

Even though the white clouds
portend migration
migration often leads to war
when cultural differences collide
and scarcity replaces plenty.

She decides the partner must be a migrant
so she may lead by example.
Add new blood into the old.
Add new thought into the old.
Add new practices over preaching.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Unable to carve
in stone
Paul accepts
the penetration
of the tattoo artist’s
sharp pens.

Norse Runes
in a band
up and around
the arm shoulder
and back
as if flesh
was stone.

A story.

Her story
mirrored in an odd mix
of ancient
modern words.

Once he wore
a talisman.
Keltic loops
woven serpentine
that disguised
a pentacle
and heart—
Love is Magic.

It lay with its twin
in her grave.
Gold for future
robbers and thieves
to excavate.

Also on him
Santa Muerte.
Mythology mix.
Modern adaptation.
Neo creationism
for what the spirit

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Paul Creates Two Stacks of Documents

The one on the right is standard letter sized
eight & a half by eleven sheets
all white with black inkjet print
and stacks neatly as if ready
for a box.

The one on the left is random sizes
shapes colors from little cards
with cute mice eating seeds on them
to a drawing of a map
that emulates the world
as seen by Amerigo Vespucci
but in bright colored pencil
instead of faded ink.

The right stack could be poems
based on the irregular
amount of words and letters
and the spacing on them.
Eight hundred and twenty three sheets
all with a date from the calendar year

The threat is the paper shredder
on a short table in between
the two stacks.

The threat is the last orders
(will and testament)
that spells out
in plain English
to destroy a life’s work.

These two stacks are just the beginning.
One studio closet is full
of manuscript boxes
and several portfolio cases.
And that does not count the walls
hung with framed work
or poems push-pinned onto plaster.

Paul opens a whiskey bottle
and pours himself a drink.
He swishes it about his mouth like Listerine.
Then swallows.

The power button on the shredder
glows blue after he presses it.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Holiday Lights Still Strung Across the Living Room

Paul kept so much about himself
that was lovable hidden
in odd places about the house
the chicken coop
and stables.

Sometimes the neighbor kids
hunted for those aspects
like Easter Eggs
but never found them
because sitting by themselves
those qualities
had no substance.

One should not
hold against him
that he chose to hide those qualities
thus appearing broken
to the eye that looked
only skin deep.

It is his life and he gave up
grand stand seats
at major league baseball games
to live here—
let alone feeling
the turnstile and all the hands
that pressed the bar
before his.

It was spring with daffodils in bloom
when I found shoveling heavy snow
for his older neighbors

placed in the bottom
of an empty cookie jar
up in the attic
when what I sought
was a souvenir baseball
with Cal Ripken’s signature on it.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul can pack the car
in fifteen minutes
and not forget the hamsters
if he feels the world
is about to explode
with happiness
too big for his heart
to contain.
Off he will drive
with a honey bear
tipping off the top
of the car’s roof
when he crosses the bump
at the end of the driveway
to some place
unknown to us
and him
(until he finds it)
where the loudest sound
is the forest growing
and god does not mix
with the second
and nights have
no street-lamps
to block the stars.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sunday Ritual

Jenny went around town
trying on weddings
until she found one she liked.

She sat in the seventh pew
of a Lutheran church
and imagined the handsome couple

having sloshy sex that night
after travel to an exotic destination
and too many sugary rum drinks.

At no time did she
place herself at the alter
as a substitute for the woman in white

but she did substitute herself
for the groom in black
to feel the custom fit tux upon her body.

When all was bells and rice and cheers
for the blissful couple
Jenny slipped away to a barbecue joint

to eat herself into indigestion
and then try to wash away
that sensation with beer.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not A Fairy Tale

Paul wrote a love story.
It was a hate story too.

Overall on the imagined scales of justice
love outweighed hate a hundred to one.

The problem was a linear story
weighs things at different times.

There was a plot point two-thirds of the way
through the story

that hate in the fictional wife’s mind
tipped the scale against her husband

on the day she learned
he had an affair with her sister.

Although both Leviticus and Deuteronomy
prescribe death for adulterers

the wife chose leaving
the house that was not a home anymore—

to not be a wife anymore
and to find another hand to hold her hand.

Being in her thirties she was not afraid
of dying of loneliness.

She packed her few things and left
on a great American road trip.

She discovered in her third hotel room
that she did not miss

the sound of manly feet on the floor at night
or picking up his socks from around the house.

The day she was in Taos New Mexico
she saw a triple rainbow against the mountains.

She declared it a sign.
A new life fell into place as if waiting for her.

The man who once was her husband
married the woman who remained her sister.

She did not attend the wedding.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

You’ll See Someday It Will Happen To You

Not aware that he was cursed
Paul walked through the shopping mall
totally unaware he radiated
this sensation that caused people
to be disappointed in him
for random reasons
that had nothing to do with his life
but the life of the person
who came in close proximity to Paul—
which is a measure of two meters
an anomaly in America which uses inches
feet and yards.

On a day when no one sang
Happy Birthday to Paul
a woman with a device
clicking like a geiger counter
approached him.
Her device drowned out her words
which appeared to be a simple greeting
on the lines of Hullo. My name is ….

Without so much as a by your leave
the woman hugged Paul.
A long disarming hug
that approximated a hug
of a beloved wife whose husband
had been away at war
for four or five years
and just now returned to their doorstep.
That image suggests
a long passionate kiss should ensue
and a news photographer would capture
the warmth and release of worry
but this woman had just met Paul
and was not that outgoing.

What did happen was the clicking device
became totally silent.

The woman speaking with a French accent
asked Paul to coffee at the Starbucks
at the corner of the street
where he happened to be walking
when she located him.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney