I arrived.
The sun’s soft etch changed everything.

The ruin of the aspen leaves
is most beautiful.

My eye tracked each falling.
Each landing.

What more wealth do I require?
No need to confess.

No greater solitude
for being—for being prayer.

The line of the mountain frays.
That is what I love.

The blending. The blur.
The rejoining.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul walked home after happy hour.
He left his stumble inside his corner bar.

He practiced lying down
in the chalk outlines left by the police.

Inspiration told him this act
would give him empathy for the victim

and a sense of the burning pain
in muscles when a bullet passes through.

He also thought of it as practice
at rising from the dead—

a skill to be used at a future date
when it was his turn

to have unflattering portraits
snapped by the crime scene photographer.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wikipedia on Weegee

Shards Hung Like Dagger-Teeth

In the broken chapel
where the altar was marred
but not destroyed

I remained on my knees
my head just below
a thick swarm of gnats.

I came here to tear the building down
for boards to use to create art
like I do with faded and dilapidated red barns.

A new future was planned
for this site.
So a poster on a telephone pole stated.

I thought of all the prayers
fumbled and soaked into
these floorboards

and how those stories
would guide my carving tools
or arrange the paint colors.

I am not sure what I would do
if those dropped prayers
were in a foreign language.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Free of Small Town America

At the end of everything
a streetlamp goes out
and Narnia darkens.

The grass around the streetlamp
remains green for a time
until it browns and withers.

That is if everything is real.

If it is of the imagination
it will spring back to life
pretty much as it departed.

I cupped a cricket in my hands then let it go.

I gave up TV for miniature toy soldiers
where wars take place
on a scenic table top.

It is the closest I will come
to being god
as I shape the scenery

placing trees one by one into woods

micro managing
which pasture a couple of cows graze
and how loud

the war will be this time.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

You Tried Being Nothing

A minefield replaced the lawn again.
I told the kids not to play dead.

You told me to learn snow.
I salted your lips before drinking a kiss.

The lawn leaped into a pile of pine needles.
The kids cleaved the wind running.

You told me to blanket the yellow sailboats.
I printed your eyes shut with ellipses.

The lawn knelt in prayer reciting psalms.
The kids recited a failed fable left out of the final draft.

You told me to dance standing still.
I built a shelter to protect us from the sun not the night.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

My Mind is a Ransacked Drawer

When Lori arrives gravity will be different.
The world will be the same weight.

I read the earth loses twenty-five tons of gases a day
but gains twenty-five tons of space debris.

When Voyager One passed beyond the Sun’s heliosphere
the earth wobbled a little bit more.

For the first time in five weeks
I am not afraid of a meteor slamming into Albuquerque.

The chickens laid more eggs this week
and three of them had green shells.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Unapproved Conjecture

And God saw the light
and it was so-so.

He tried to reshape it
but each time he touched the photons
butterflies burst forth.

When each of God’s breaths
passed into the beams
a new language took shape.

The radiation in the light
burned God’s hands.

As he tried to reshape the beam
carbon based life sprang into existence
when the photons carried sloughed skin
to planetary surfaces on the solar wind.

Eventually God turned light off
to work on the source
in the dark void where he was accustomed
to getting things done
with a lack of complication.

God grew frustrated with the unfixable source.
He squeezed it between both hands.

A great explosion took place
generating hundreds of billions of smaller lights
that being scared of their creator
ran away from God in every direction.

And God saw those hundreds of billions of lights
and thought them good.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not Jonah

Leaves held a sit-in to protest October.

The original purpose of the railroad
was not to cart goods from point A to point B
but to segregate America’s cities.

Your lit cigarette fell on my good sweater
burning a hole in the fabric.
You claimed Act of God to get out from under
my claim you owed me a new sweater.

A hawk on the telephone wire
watched me sleep in the shade of trees
and tried to figure out how to carry me
to its nest to feed its fledglings.

Russian internet trolls and spies
high on cough syrup doused Twinkies
snuck onto my computer screen
and changed all my fonts to Cyrillic.

I read my poetry book aloud by the fire
a self-righteous group used to burn banned books—
I was hoping to get on the list.

I asked six whales, but all refused to swallow me.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mirror Mirror

Paul imagines the scientists who control
the Hubble Space Telescope
(now that it is obsolete)
will turn their view toward earth
and become Peeping Toms.

The CIA desires those scientists
to focus Hubble on the Kremlin’s offices
to read top secret papers
instead of stealing ingredient lists
from the Cheese Cake Factory.

Paul tries to imagine where Elmo
would point the Hubble Space Telescope
then decides Elmo would believe
it is a gigantic nerf ball cannon
and fire it at Mr. Snuffleupagus.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Environmental Frustration

Kim Kardashian pulled her jeans down
to expose her bare buttocks and thong
for a magazine cover-shoot.

I tried to press pause on this poem right away
but my hands malfunctioned.

On another page she stands in tattered boxers
and torn t-shirt with an expression
that communicates Don’t touch me.

To my surprise the magazine is a mail order catalog.
I can purchase my own Kim Kardashian.

I can order my own reality show empire
and melodramatic life.

I can order make up and creams
and other skin care products.

I can order boxers and t-shirts.
Lingerie and other intimates.

There are no desktop publishing boxes
that explain how to cancel this subscription
to save the trees I cherish.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney