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

Tuesday He Vanished

When Paul learned he could deconstruct material buildings
by playing a self-help audio book backwards
he went to the corner Circle K and removed the building
from around the employees and customers.
He neatly stacked the bricks near a large propane tank
and made a pile of roofing material that refused to stack.

He did not know what to do with the plumbing and gas lines
let alone the gas pumps and their under ground storage containers.
It was the water fountaining up from decoupled pipes
that caused him to realize he had not thought this through.
A smoker inadvertently ignited a jet of natural gas
and flames shot into the sky without explosion.

Paul stopped the audio playback
about a quarter of the way through chapter eleven.
He merged himself into the gathering crowd
feeling both awkward and sinister.
Instead of retreating from the scene
he began to crumble like a cookie in a fist.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

When Does Water Sleep

Although trees can bend to the wind
they never kneel to it in supplication.

In a car flipping end over end on I-forty
the driver sings Cohen’s Hallelujah sure he will die.

After stating he can accomplish anything
Paul is asked to re-bone a de-boned chicken.

A boy (whose parents refuse to teach him about sex
on the theory they are protecting him)

dives deeper and deeper into internet porn
and starts receiving unsolicited dick picks in his inbox.

White Sands is gypsum. Not some left over sandy beach
from an ocean long ago receded and left at sea level.

Bitcoin is the tulips of this digital age.
Crazy sums spent on a commodity whose only beauty is avarice.

That is incorrect. Many of the early bitcoin purchasers
gloried in being first into something new.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Trying to rewind his life
to last Thursday to a time ten minutes before
he said something stupid to Lori
which got her mad at him,
Paul walked backwards through the neighborhood.

The neighborhood sidewalks
were old and uneven.
His first stumble and fall
took place in front of their cafe—
the place where they first met.

He banged his head on the concrete.
Several bystanders helped him up
and gave him walking suggestions.
The best one was if he insists on walking backward
not to have his hands in his pockets.

Paul walked backward into Sarti’s Bar
which was full of happy hour people
busy with happy hour drinking.
He bumped into a bus-woman clearing tables
and sent empties spinning across the floor.

The merriment of the bar flowed around him
like he was a stone moving through a stationary stream.
The metaphor was backward enough to tickle his fancy.
His laughter joined the merriment of the joint.
He took a barstool and ordered a pint.

With his back to the silent TV he cheered
when others cheered the Broncos football play.
Neil Young’s Heart of Gold played on the old jukebox.
Lori walked forward into Sarti’s.
Because he was not facing the television Paul saw her arrive.

Lori walked forward to the bar next to him
squeezed between two occupied barstools
and ordered a pint. He apologized.
She accepted the apology and commented
that Mary called her to get down here when he entered backwards.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney