Paul pinned a paper number
to the black asphalt.
He changed it every day
to reflect auto fatalities.
Of animals that is.
Especially flying insects.
He pinned it like he was angry.
He was angry.
These were numbers
he never invited into his head
or discussed over a beer
Today’s number stretched across
Within three cars zooming over it
it was shreds, litter, ink
ready to bleed on the prickly pear
in the next desert rain.
Each night as dawn approached
a distant yelling broke Paul’s sleep.
A yelling inside his head
that did not sound like his deceased father.
Paul decided to use initiative
and print extra blank spaces left and right
so he might stretch the number out
like knifeless tape at the finish line.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney
My parents lied.
They said they loved me.
Not really. Not once that I remember.
It was not from lack of trying.
It was from seeing my brother’s ghost
when they looked in my direction.
How dare I not be him.
Still, they had love in them
building up in a large reservoir
behind a grieving dam.
My mother was a girl scout leader.
She spread her love over the girls in her troop.
Her three troops.
They lapped it up and cherished her.
My father was a professor
and poured his love into calm instruction,
so patient with slow learners.
I never learned how his students felt about him.
I do not hate my parents for withholding love.
I was angry with them for it.
Anger resigned two decades ago on this grudge.
How simple, complex and lovable our humanity.
Love’s riverine capacity
to flow around the obstacles of grief and pain.
copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney