Magpie

Paul records bird names in a little book.
He records Thrasher many times each day.

All of his thrashers are curved billed thrashers.
He is unaware there are any other types.

Paul thought about marrying once.
He wanted to be a stepfather.

The woman Paul was interested in
had no children of her own.

She collected strays from the neighborhood
which had a high abandonment rate.

Paul said thank you to her for the opportunity
but he was only in like with the woman.

He liked that she listened to his words
but came to understand

she only listened to every other word
unless the word started with a hard consonant.

Paul records Magpie in his little note book
for the first time while in Albuquerque.

After five days he crosses out Magpie
since no corroborating witnesses came forward.

Little did Paul know that there is a Magpie
and it records people sightings in a little note book

though no one has yet postulated
how the Magpie groups people.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sunset Under a Break in the Clouds

Bright west difference.
Night sky without constellations.

Forever unhinged.
Vertigo.

The sky is falling!
The sky is falling!

Terrafirma embrace.
Nearby horses.

Fewer names I am known by.
Limbs stirring July.

Pushups.
Tens of them.

Ones really.
Single digit planet.

Eyes transfixed.
Adobe brick church transept.

Pebbles in my shoes.
Journey slowed.

Muddy white laces.
Unbowed tied.

Dew wet.
The sky opens up.

An immense rain.
Not Noah big.

Arroyo wash out.
Three homeless

now embraced by
Poseidon? Yahweh?

Vishnu? Mohamed?
Rio Grande sandbar.

Flow rates
remain twenty percent of normal.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dead Parrot Sketch

Instead of teaching our parrot
to say hullo and goodbye
we taught it magical spells
from a battered leather bound book
we found at a woo-woo resale shop.

Some days the parrot used
the wrong inflection
on a turned phrase
and we found ourselves
at the beach by Santa Monica pier.

The third time the parrot
teleported us
onto a romantic seat
of the Santa Monica ferris wheel
but it failed to recall us
back to the kitchen
in our Albuquerque house.

Thus the parrot starved to death
since my wallet was still in
my other jeans
and Dianne’s purse
hung on the back
of a dining room chair.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mental Engine Block

My car refuses to enter Denver, Colorado.
In fact it refuses to go over Monument Pass.

I tried gunning it up and over
but the engine died and we rolled backward

against traffic on Interstate Twenty-Five
which is as scary as you imagine.

My car works fine south of Colorado Springs.
I doubt my car’s disfunction is perpetrated by the Air Force Academy

by the Garden of the Gods
or some healing water spirit in Manitou Springs.

I have tried entering Denver on US Two-Eighty-Five
and from the east and west on I-Seventy.

All attempts failed. I took a Greyhound from Albuquerque
and the bus broke down outside Fountain

under the gaze of Cheyenne Mountain
with both NORAD and the Zoo.

Other than this fact, my car is a good car
and gets me where I am going in a timely manner.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Middling

The last time I flew to the moon
my feet remained grounded in Albuquerque.

I thought I would be the first to visit the lunar surface
but there were foot prints in the dirt

that looked like Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers had danced there.

I’ve seen those steps in nineteen fifty’s
home dance lesson kits with numbered footprints.

Now you know I am talking about the past
before Mark McGwire’s prodigious home run seasons.

Before. Neil Armstrong and the Apollo Eleven mission.
Before Jackie Gleason and Alice.

I was five years old and my conscious mind
did not prevent me from doing things I thought possible.

I hate that I am now limited by reality
as taught to me through university and peer pressure.

If you need me I’ll be seated halfway down the staircase
Not at the bottom. Not at the top.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Why I Have A List Of Favorite Rest Stops

Sadness persists in me.
Like it is an uncharted organ.

Bicycling does much to diminish it.
Photo albums tend to intensify it.

Blueberries on my morning yogurt
signify I have a taste for blueberries.

There are days sadness
pulls me deeper inside myself.

Other days it pushes me
outside my skin.

Drinking shrinks it briefly
then expands it to galactic dimensions.

As sad experiences add up
I do my best to relabel them neutrally.

There is something about driving long distances
that vibrates sadness out of my pores

to steadily drip on the pavement
of the interstate highways I traverse.

I once tried the nomad lifestyle
because of this fact

but ran out of novel roads to drive
at Neah Bay with a view of Waadah Island.

I threw nine amens and hale-Mary’d
my St. Christopher medallion into the ocean

where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the sea
trusting that would pacify my sadness.

It did not. My sadness suggested
we head back to Albuquerque

and the surrounding desert
since the green chile harvest started that week.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

All Saints’ And Souls’

I procrastinated
longer than usual
to coordinate
the family reunion.
So much so
I was
the only one
who RSVP’d
for a September
gathering
in Albuquerque
New Mexico.
So, I changed
the date
to Día de los
Muertos
.
and the location
to the cemetery
where
Winged Victory
watches over
the gate.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Liberty Cap

Paul found his inheritance
in the garage
in a wheelbarrow.

A hundred and fifty
pounds or more of pennies
with the promise

some few of them
wore wheat and others
with designs that predated Lincoln.

Paul researched and returned the fact
that a hundred and forty-seven
copper pennies weighs one pound

while the modern zinc coins
require one hundred eighty-two
and that leaves

those three strange steel pennies
minted during World War Two
at one hundred and sixty-eight per pound.

A foot note stated
one hundred dollars of zinc pennies
weighs sixty-eight pounds

which places his inheritance
at less than three hundred dollars
from which he will have to subtract

the labor necessary
to sort and separate the pennies
by year and images

then roll the common modern coins
and research the rare ones
in case there is a jackpot winner.

Paul started salting Albuquerque neighborhoods
with heads-up pennies
for all who believed the superstition.

Find a penny, pick it up.
All day long you’ll have good luck.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Postscript

Liberty Cap is a type of penny minted in the late 1700s. Link to Liberty Cap on Wikipedia.

Attachment

Delphi recalls her dog
after lavender overwhelmed its senses.

The dog ran outside herself
the silver thread barely visible in moonlight.

Delphi knows the importances
of walking away from yourself to gain perspective.

Last night she swam the ether
to the international space station.

Some part of deep sleep
rewinds the soul-cord to the bodily spool.

The dog inflated its astral self
like a balloon at Albuquerque’s Fiesta.

She meant to spread herself like a kite
to catch the solar wind.

There she was the next morning
curled, tail on nose, at the foot of the bed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

I Trusted The North Star

As a kid,
each mile
I pedaled
away
from home
grew the world
exponentially.

My parents
helped me
grow the world
by taking
summer vacations
to national parks
all over
the lower
forty-eight
the adjacent
Canadian provinces
and a special trip
over the Pacific
to Hawaii.

When I reached
my majority
and purchased
my first car
I expanded
the world
to the limits
of my courage
by taking jobs
in nine different states
over the years.

All this growth
slowed
then sped up
on my last move
where I
stopped short
of Moab, Utah
and landed in
Albuquerque
where I met
Dianne
and stayed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney