Death’s face and body kept shifting
man to woman—woman to man.
There was something of Van Gogh
in his vestments.
She brought her own sunlight
to illuminate her face.
It was late afternoon Taos light—
honey colored and thick.
There was not much conversation.
Death listened through ear buds to Marie Baptiste.
When the song ended Death asked
if I would play a game of chess.
I thought how Seventh Seal of him
and a second later she opened the Queen’s gambit.
As the turns move pieces across the board
I wonder how Death had time for this leisure.
As he moved his knight
to capture my bishop, she said
The four apocalypse riders
saddle their horses.
copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney
A broken TV
receives and projects
only FOX Opinion
to rooms outfitted with
green La-Z-boy loungers
set on synthetic carpets
with cigarette ash burns.
The sound comes out
of stereo speakers
that flank the fickle flat screen.
The fake walnut casing
clashes with the Bronco orange
paint on the walls.
A dog sleeps at the far end of the room
alert enough in sleep to wake
if a single footstep touches the carpet
even if the steps lead away
into the kitchen and a half empty case
of beer cans.
Flies in the kitchen buzz
in slow death on a toxic strip
or in full life over food
not yet put away into the fridge
after canned supper
was emptied into a pan.
The only art on the walls
is provided by gun manufacturers
who sold this guy
on the idea of survival
after the apocalypse
spread to all hands.
copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney
I cannot see my grandparents.
I thought they would wait for me
on the cusp of the apocalypse.
Maybe they are there
but I do not recognize them.
Maybe I do not see them
because I never knew what they looked like.
There were no photographs.
I look around for Mom and Dad.
No bickering, so they are not around.
Maybe this darkness with an edge
is not the apocalypse after all.
copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney
It was only after my parents’ death that I learned of a photo album that contained images of my grandparents. I was born after three of them had passed away. I knew my paternal grandfather briefly with only one clear memory of him sitting in a chair in our house at Christmas when I was five years old.
I do not know a way of measuring the effect of having or not having grandparents in your life, how their presences shapes you, and so on. Also I do not know how to measure how their loss affected my parents’ (or anyone’s parents’) attitudes and practices in raising children.
My guess is, through lack of knowing my grandparents, I failed to appreciate family history, the farm, the immigrant experience and how it shaped the family. Simply put, I never got to hear them tell the stories of their lives.
Dianne walked in and wants to hang out. And our brief conversation that initiated hanging out knocked the thoughts I was leading to out of my brain. So If any of you have a thought about the previous three paragraphs, please leave a comment.
Love & Light.
God came for me.
This was her third try.
No I am not a forest prince.
I am not a body broken
at the side of the road.
Let me heal you, she said.
A fire will reforge your spine
with hammer blows upon a turquoise anvil.
is not the salting of Sodom and Gomorrah,
but a revealing.
And she kissed me.
With passion she drew into herself
all of my experiences.
You are a mass grave, she said.
You are a cocked-headed magpie mid-solution.
You are a son of the world tree.
copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney