Paul carried a bonfire in his vest pocket.
From time to time he took it out and let it lick his face.

He collected wishbones and sent them priority mail
to his congresswoman as a political donation.

This week’s twelve feet of snow on the Sierra Nevadas
was all the world’s crocodile tears swept up by the wind.

Paul’s heart is made of bees wax
and fuels the bonfire in his vest pocket.

It is his silver cord not a candlewick
that connects the two.

The whalebone archway where couples marry
was flown to Albuquerque by a rookie hurricane.

Paul dismisses the notion
he extracted his bonfire from whiskey.

He found a baby wildfire abandoned in the forest
and raised it as his own.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Five Pound Sack

Paul juggled doubts.
Six of them.

Whether to visit Jackson, Mississippi
and its old black neighborhoods.

If he should wear stone washed jeans
that looked like a cloud puff sky.

If he should pin-drop every pothole in Albuquerque
and send the map to the city.

If planting a cross in his dead lawn
will resurrect it.

Which presidents’ heads
to carve out of russet potatoes.

Whether to take his sweet time
on the dance floor.

One by one, Paul tosses his doubts
to the audience.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Albuquerque climbs
from the Rio Grande valley
to the Sandia heights.

If you so determine
you may walk trails
from river to clouds.

And whether
you like the view
looking up

looking down
or looking at a friend
it is a good place.

Many of the door
and window frames
are painted turquoise.

Many are the invocations
of priests, rabbis and holy men
at the head of their flocks.

Here you must take
your little dogs inside at night
or coyotes may eat them.

Here a hawk may
glide by your ear
to strike a sparrow or a dove.

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


We prayed for rain.
We danced for rain.

We sacrificed cheeseburgers for rain.
We drank beer for rain.

We sang rain songs.
We dressed up like little rain clouds.

Rain got the message.
Rain clouds gathered cousins from all around the world.

Rain arrived at two-seventeen on Wednesday.
Rain fell upon us in earnest.

We never saw rain like that before.
No roof kept the rain out.

No arroyo or river kept the rain in their banks.
Rain flooded the Catholic churches.

It flooded the Protestant churches too.
And the synagogues and mosques.

It was a good baptist rain
that insisted upon full immersion.

The Rio Grande flood plain
lived up to its name.

The rain washed buildings off the foothills
and down to the river.

The flood moved Albuquerque south
past Los Lunas and Belen.

The rain rained itself out by nine twenty-two.
The moon shone down on millions

of Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Be’s.
It glinted off droplets hung on bent and dinged serifs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Remote Thought

Memory stampeded the front range
but did not bull over the Sandia mountains into Albuquerque.

All those hooves milled about head stones
in search of an argument thrust into the present by the past.

The wounds we once inflicted upon each other
never had their stitches removed.

That mending was one long thread
that unintentionally held us together over fourteen hundred miles.

This morning in the reservoir run dry
you found the drowned math needed for our accounting.

Our greener grasses are east of the Sandia mountains
under ambling hooves stirring up dust clouds

as Memory works its way up the front range
toward the Pecos River headwaters.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Below the News Helicopters

Our Friday ritual was to meet up
and walk the bosque
down by the Rio Grande
and stop for a late breakfast
at Flying Star cafe.

A fire burned a reported thirty acres
on both sides of the river
and the smoke made our walk

We watched two fire companies
put out hot spots
on a computer screen
as our drone rose high enough
over the backyard to view the action.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


The rapture
was really a rupture

in Central Avenue
in downtown Albuquerque.

Three cars fell in
before human reaction

could place a foot
on the brakes.

An abandoned baby cried
on the sidewalk

as Oblivion reached a hand
past the shirtless boys

scattering the crowd
by the ice cream truck

and ordered two orange

A man with a digital camera
filmed it all in Technicolor

while four wannabe preachers
spontaneously gave sermons

which summoned
four angels with broken wings

and oversized sewing kits
to stitch up Central Avenue.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul laments the dead
with whiskey shots
until the world blurs
into a dysfunctional sleep.

A meteor spins downward
through the atmosphere
until it explodes
due to the misshapen friction.

He does not view
his mountain home as utopia
but a heartbreak
when he is away.

All the paperwork for the dead
got signed and delivered.
Properties did not change
but their titles did.

The dispossessed still haunt
the house and the Toyota—
Paul notices the little things
he did not notice before.

The ferryman is long ago paid
but not Uncle Sam.
Paul sorts through financial instruments
looking for a hammer.

He walks miles upon the mountain
but grieving does not find a place
among the boulders, piñon
and dry arroyos.

Paul is more aware of the dark
because he is often awake at night.
He feels lingering sorrows
only when the rain falls on Albuquerque.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Poorly Labeled

A package arrived today
at my Albuquerque home.

The corners were damp.
The package was labeled Rain.

With a box cutter
I slit the tape and opened it.

What I first thought were packing peanuts
was a cloud.

The cloud filled
half the height of the box.

When I pulled the cloud out
it expanded and covered our ceiling.

It rained on the carpet
all through the house.

As rain pelted me
I looked in the bottom of the box.

I saw blackened cardboard
where lightning struck.

The house shock with thunder.
The guest room bed burned.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney