Shakespeare’s Sonnets

I am stuck.
My story moves on without me.

Some times people see my face reflected
in a mirror or plate glass.

It makes little difference if I run.
I cannot catch up.

I cannot catch a plane in Albuquerque
and land in time at Chicago Midway.

I fear for myself. This deviation
from fate’s script and crafted lines.

Will I now face the Spanish Inquisition?
Will I now walk an empty park void of birds?

I imagine this could be called freedom—
this being stuck for a time.

It gives me a chance to appreciate
all that it is to be human.

To enjoy my cup of Earl Grey
while reading Shakespeare’s sonnets.

It could be this script
is the one before the latest rewrite.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Day Of The Dead

White flags flap the streets under street lamps.
I am not sure to whom Albuquerque has surrendered.

Abandoned cars take the place of cheap motel rooms
and couples hookup to knock the rust off sex.

The heat generates a fog that cloaks the Central Avenue bridge.
The fog sparks with a Día de Muertos magic.

Border separated families emerge
into the land of the free, the home of the brave

to locate their missing loved ones, crossing the span
in a symbolic entry over the Rio Grande.

Albuquerque and all of New Mexico sheds
a long political intolerance tragedy.

I.C.E. agents and political operatives pack their bags
and head home to stimulate the holiday economy.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Okay. Day of the Dead was at the beginning of November and it is the day after Thanksgiving at the end of November. Inspiration arrives when it arrives without asking consent or paying attention to holiday correctness.

The border tragedies the U. S. government has enacted during Trump’s term in separating families has bothered me to no end. I believe the whole program is a human rights violation. Part of the UN definition of genocide (BBC explanation here) involves separating children from families. So, in my mind, large numbers of federal employees helped perpetrate, in the name of the American People, a genocide.

I am regularly amazed how often people who claim alignment to a religion that is created around the idea of the Golden Rule commit such heinous actions. Maybe amazed is the wrong word and I should say appalled.

I think everyone has to help ensure everyone else’s rights are maintained so their rights are maintained. This is why we have a rule of law and work to make sure those laws are fair and fairly applied.

So much for my Friday morning soap box appearance.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.



I raise my right hand.
My left hand rests upon a pine bough
that will be pulped soon and turned into bible pages.

No swearing in takes place.
No cussing out takes place either.

This testament has something to do
with the many faces of Jesus.

I know there was only one Christ.
But so many people wrote the gospels:
Canonical, Gnostic, Jewish-Christian, Infancy,
reconstructed, fragmentary and lost,
from the first Matthew to last century’s Gabriele Wittek.

More gospels than I have fingers and toes to count.
Fewer gospels than sparrows & finches at my bird feeder.

I recall our last meeting—the Christ and myself.
A cafe with a Middle Earth motif.
I found her outside the front door
with a whimsical cardboard sign
made with a carbon-6 molecule drawing
requesting organic dietary supplements.

I ordered green chile cheeseburgers
and lemonades for us both.

She invited me to leave my body.
But I love Albuquerque, the beauty of its faults
and messy racial-cultural issues,
and refused to go.

The Christian inquisition
before which I testify
wishes proof of the girl’s divinity,
but I have nothing more to share
than her cardboard sign
with its black block lettering.

I mean, I just knew she was the Christ.

I just knew she needed help
so I declared her the Christ
to make it easier
to liberate twenties
from my wallet
beyond the cost of lunch.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

An Angel Of The Lord

An angel of the lord descended from heaven
and set foot upon the Rio Grande.

She exchanged wings for a blue jean jacket
and placed a holy sadness in the book bag upon her back.

Along the bosque trail, adjacent to the Rio Grande,
we met and I introduced myself.

The words that formed her name
revealed the threads that form the fabric of the universe.

The iron of my own blood formed a gravity well
and I felt the weight of a new world pull on me.

The angel informed me that as I am allotted one life
so the earth is our one earth.

She turned her head and watched a heron
spear a fish and swallow it.

She transformed me into a heron
and herself into the salmon of knowledge.

Thus I speared and consumed her.
The iron gravity well of my blood drew me back into my own shape.

I walked to the bridge and rejoined the city.
Urgently I spoke to folks on the sidewalks.

I had not yet digested all her knowledge
thus spoke in tongues, so I sounded like a mad man.

Albuquerque’s homeless population had increased.
The city’s mental healthcare system was faulty.

The sidewalk people either avoided me
or offered me coins from their pockets.

Failing to transmit her message, my blood boiled with frustration.
The iron grouped into a ball to form a new core.

We have only this earth, our one earth.
My blood iron formed a new belief set core.

At Fourth and Central my words settled back into English.
My first words expressed the consumed angel’s holy sadness.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


In Glen Ellyn, Illinois
my footsteps work the ground
forty long years after I exported myself.

Those footsteps still pay a local tax
to appear in the dirt near the swing set
on the hill overlooking the lake.

Once a place has been a part of you,
it never lets you go completely.
Or you see it in sepia toned, dog-eared memories.

My survival appears so ordinary.
In the ground a hundred childhood atrocities
lay buried waiting for archaeologists.

I mean, they are excavated and brushed clean
in some therapeutic lab, awaiting display at a museum
for the curious and those who tag along.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico
my present footsteps thru the Sandia Mountains
appeal to my nineteen-sixties footsteps

to stop their seismic activity
that threatens to alter the Mississippi’s flow
and tilt Lake Michigan to drain south.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Location Sonnet

I may claim I moved off the reservation when I reached my majority, if you consider a ninety-eight percent republican Chicago suburb a reservation.

During my university semester in Germany, the locals refused to let me speak Auf Deutsch, so they might practice their English.

During that same semester, museum personnel misread my misprinted university ID card as Oxford instead of Rockford—I have dropped my R’s ever since, seeking to duplicate the benefits of misperception.

On our flight back to the U. S., a blizzard blanketed the midwest and east coast, so we were put in a holding pattern over the Atlantic. The plane got so small by the eighteenth hour, a hamster would not fit in that metallic tube.

I purchased my first cellphone when I lived outside Port Angeles, Washington. I walked to the top of the north hill overlooking the ocean to receive a signal.

When I lived in Taos, New Mexico there was no such thing as over-night delivery via Fed Ex or UPS or USPS. The family lawyers back in Chicago, despite their vast education and experience, could not fathom this.

I spent most of my one year living in Frederick, Maryland walking the Antietam battlefield. I cannot explain why I did not move to Sharpsburg, Maryland to shorten the commute.

Someday, in an effort to lose most of my sense of privilege, I think I should live in a location where I am the only white person for a hundred miles in all directions. Does such a place exist anymore?

Technically, as a white person, I am a minority in Albuquerque and in New Mexico as a whole. I never once felt minor.

Every summer day when the Albuquerque sunset paints the Sandia Mountains the watermelon color pattern that gave the mountains their Spanish name, I wonder why Nature fails to behave PC toward our African American citizens.

Albuquerque was named after Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque. I like to believe they dropped the first R for my benefit.

Albuquerque is nicknamed the Duke City. The Duke never visited.

In Albuquerque you learn the lovesick sound of roadrunners calling for a mate. At your most lonely, you never sounded that bad off, even with six pints of beer spilling your desperation on someone sitting next to you at the bar.

Twelve years in Albuquerque with its many Indian casinos on the city outskirts and I have never visited one to place a single wager. My biggest payoff on my Albuquerque bet was meeting Dianne.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy Independence Day (US) to you all. I trust you have lined up a joyous way of celebrating the 4th with plenty of friends of family no matter how much star spangled fireworks and festivities are in your day.

Sherman Alexie broadened my definition of a sonnet. I recommend reading his books whether poetry or novels.

My old (pre-Dianne) habit was to move every 1 to 4 years (usually 3 years) to a new location to explore the geography, history and culture. I am convinced the wanderlust had roots in tragedy with both searching and avoiding being part of the trauma process. Along the way I met a lot of really fantastic people, walked a lot of miles of trails, bicycled over 16,000 road miles, and learned I cannot adjust myself to fit in all cultures in the USA.

My tally is 9 states I have lived in. My favorite state is being in love with Dianne. New Mexico for all its poor ratings (48th, 49th or 50th in many government state rankings, such as education), is a beautiful place to live in with a great diversity of people. The only place I met a greater diversity was Washington D.C., especially on the National Mall with its tourists and locals and foreign & domestic politicians.

Love & Light


In The Morning

Over Albuquerque a haze mutes the light
and adds a little cough to the breath.

A prescribed burn in the San Moreno Mountains
the city’s air quality email states.

What doctor prescribes fire
as a cure or vaccine?

Imagine the pharmacist
filling a pill bottle with a book of matches.

Imagine the doctor telling the forest,
Take two lightning strikes and call me in the morning.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The prescribed burn in the San Moreno Mountains was a month ago. Since then Albuquerque has been blanketed by smoke that blew in from Arizona forest fires when the wind is right. The smoke is bad enough that health advisories are issued.

My sense of the situation is that the last few years of epic forest fires is a combination of climate change and poor (or ignorant) forestry management. I think the forestry service has learned quite a bit these last few years. I read that some of this learning was from studying old photos of forests and seeing how the trees were spaced farther apart due to natural burns.

Love & Light


Keeping Pace

I chambered July into my gun.
A woman stopped her bicycle, twisted to look west.
Another wrote the word monsoon on the blue horizon.
Together they combed the sky for clouds trying to glean rain.

My gun was a starter’s pistol.
The bicyclist reached the dissipating Rio Grande.
The turbulent heat ignored the night’s blanket of darkness.
The city lights went black unable to condition enough interiors.

My gun barked at the sky.
A second bicyclist arrived from the Pacific.
A roiling gray cloud on a miles long string tailed her bicycle.
A broken comb-tooth popped the cloud over Central & Fourth.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Blue Thru Orange

Warm night in Albuquerque.
The neighborhood dogs bark at an approaching siren.
The Sandia Mountains do their watermelon illusion.
We sit on the porch swing and watch the magic show.

I keep staring at the spot where the Mimosa once stood.
I shift my gaze to the apricot tree which may have to come down next.
Where will the our yard’s birds nest?
Cholla is good for thrashers, but not finches, not sparrows, not doves.

Dianne talks about the rocks in the foothills.
Boulders really. She repeats the word vug and vuggy.
Vug: A cavity in the stone, from the Cornish Vooga.
Our foothills require a dentist.

The loco weed blooms white.
Thumb-sized bumble bees maneuver in and out of the blooms.
Sometimes they require a little assistance outward bound.
The prickly pear are ripe with deep red tunas.

The west does its sunset light show.
Who’s afraid of blue thru orange?
Who’s afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue Barnett Newman?
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Barnett Newman painted a series “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue.” (Link to image IV in series.) Newman named the paintings as a reference to the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. (Albee played on the title of the “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf” a song in a Disney cartoon.

Thursday City

Albuquerque sparkles. Dusky light glinted
from an afternoon monsoon’s residual raindrops.
Heat and steam thicken the air.
The prickly pear and cholla swell, as does the river.

On a storefront television, bleeding leads the news.
Guns and abandonment—
the over-prescribed opioid war claims another street corner.
So many human shells expended without conscience.

The long fuse of immigrants burns with hope.
Trumpets blare Mariachi infusions.
We lean into each other, hold hands, kiss.
Ducks appear motionless against the Rio Grande current.

The setting sun finally calms its blush.
Street lamps bathe all in a honey glow.
The low-riders parade and pause on Central.
A santero displays his saints, apple-like, in a cart.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy Easter everyone. Whether it is a spiritual experience for you through Christ or Chocolate Bunnies, I wish you an exemplary day.

Santero is a Spanish word for a carver or painter of saints or other biblical stories. In a fashion, they create pieces of church art that a person may purchase and place in their home. Dianne and I have a couple in our home, but more for the beauty of the art than the spirituality in the saint story.

In Albuquerque and especially when I lived in Taos, I loved to relax in the late afternoon on the open air patio of a pub or cafe, enjoy a beverage with conversation and watch the happy hour parade of low-riders go by. The love and craftsmanship placed into these cars impressed me. The hansom men and attractive women who drove/road in them was wonderful eye-candy as well.

Yesterday was 20 April (4-20), the day of cannabis celebration in many parts of the country. A street fair closed Central Avenue (Route 66 in Albuquerque). Bands played and vendors sold merchandise and food. Once upon a time I would have spent some time at the fair, but my tastes have moved away from that sort of event—a consequence of age. We were in the downtown to see the artwork at a gallery oblivious of the date, but we were there early afternoon before it really got going.

New Mexico has a large poverty and homeless problem. And with that comes an opioid problem. I hope our country chooses the Portugal treatment method over the failed war on drugs method to deal with the problem.

I must stop. It is a glorious morning in Albuquerque and Dianne and I have a walk planned along the Rio Grande. I must away.

Love and Light