Thoughts of Vanishing

Paul felt his best days were past.
He did not see himself in fun TV ads.
Twilight approached.
He read more books.
His desire for sex dwindled.
He sampled testosterone pills.
Snow fell outside the window.
Too often he forgot his promises.
His tea cooled too fast.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Intensifying Sadness

Sometimes I have trouble
falling asleep at night
as I try to figure out
for my last will and testament
who will sing aloud
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah
at my memorial.

And I wonder if it is
too much to dare
to ask all the attendees
to join in on the chorus
even though my fear
is that not one person
will be in attendance
since I am the youngest
in my circle of friends
and my only child died
over thirty years ago.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lazy Sculpting

Is it possible to purchase a best shirt
in a resale shop?

I looked at the tulips too late
to appreciate my four percent Dutch heritage.

Imagine the carnage
if autumn leaves fell like guillotines.

My surname is a place name
of a land I never visited.

Famous musicians should busk once a week
to keep in touch with people who can spare change.

Your tongue never cared for the taste
of a verb’s proper tense.

After so many years I realize my sense of home
is contained in being warm and dry with a full tummy.

My thirty-plus years writing poetry never made me famous
but flattened my ass from long hours in a chair.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Four A.M. Shooting

The howl sticks in my throat
machetes my vocal cords
due to their restraint
at placing vile and volatile words
over the purple flowers
of a glorious sun rise.

The blood that remains
on the sidewalk
near the Lady of Guadalupe altar
I push-broom into the dirt
thus bury that part of the victim
separate from where the family will mourn.

A pail of soapy water
with sponge and scrub brush
cleans the sidewalk
and any splatter that left droplets
on the alter.

On hands and knees
the smallness of this block
settles upon me
as I insistently take in
the beauty of the grass
bushes and flowers.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Beautiful Face

When it is
the next door neighbor’s child
who ends up in the cemetery
while your child made it home safe
from the school yard shooting
you find a thousand reasons
to kiss them and say I love you
then make a big fuss
about holding their hand
on the ferry that crosses the sound
on your way to visit the art museum.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Duck & Cover Dynasty

Each day Paul read the paper
there were one to seven stories
about people being shot.

The reporting stated some cause
like shoes, bicycle, or cash
and other times night club arguments.

Paul decided if everyone carried guns
there would be a couple
incredibly bloody weeks

and either the problem people would be dead
or everyone would agree
that no guns is a better way to live.

Paul realized he did not really want to put
his idea to a real life test
except as a reality TV show.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Four Mile Grove

On the way to the cemetery
to pour scotch under a headstone
Paul passes a ranch
with buck tails nailed to the top rails
between seventeen posts.

His car slides slightly over
the dashed dividing line
barely perceptible on the old asphalt
as the car begins the climb
up the mountain.

The oncoming car’s horn
is friendly enough
so that when he sees the driver’s face
it is not behind a middle finger
waved in his direction.

Four mile grove cemetery
is an historical snapshot
in old stone worn at the edges
crumbled in places
and a lack of a caretaker.

As he pours two fingers of scotch
on the grass below the newest headstone
the crude voice of the earth
sings a benediction that informs Paul
it is time to move on.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Long Term Strain of Abuse

Lori does not know her heart
wishes to be called by a different name.

Her heart is at the point of rebellion.

Lori passes off the irregular beats as stress
since the world is a difficult place.

Her heart begins to distrust her body.

It sees plots and conspiracies
in every grain of sugar and gram of carbohydrates.

They both call for more time in the sun.

A beach with sand squishing between toes
and vitamins produced as ultra white skin browns or reddens.

That brings up the current disagreement: sunscreen.

Lori appreciates that if her heart implements full scale rebellion
large swaths of memory will vanish.

She is pleased at the idea of relearning the world.

Especially simple things like laughter
and the smell of pine bark when she presses her face into it.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Each word wounds you.
Boys being boys inflict pain.
First day to last day.

When you sleep the word
tumbles through your brain
doing more damage.

You tried disappearing
firing back
and standing mute.

It did not change your status
as victim, even though
you never played the race card.

Ten, twenty years on and still
nightmares catch your breath
and wake you gasping.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

No One Does Night

No one does night
as well as the night.

Which of us could hold
so many stars?

Especially the star
we call the sun.

I contain multitudes
is simply a good start.

We are not so large
to understand our emptiness

and how vital that emptiness is
for each point of light.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney