Deluge Got Me Thinking

Dallas is so underwater.
Fifteen inches of rain in twenty-four hours.

I hope the art survived
dry and temperature controlled in museums.

And that joint you told me about
with the good pastrami sandwich and pickles.

Really. All I know of Dallas
is the airport hub and jetting off to somewhere else.

One day I will have to visit the concrete and glass
to learn what makes it beautiful on the inside

instead of luxuriating in the natural beauty
of my sparsely populated New Mexico.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


When I saw the quadrangle
of your face done up in the style of Andy Warhol
I thought of Mao. Not Monroe.

In the lower right corner was your name
proving you remember the skills you learned
earning your art degree

before you chose a quicker path
to fame and fortune
and the decadence that tags along.

I knew I was on camera outside your door
but not inside each room
as we discussed an exhibition of Dürer prints.

Your patterned wallpaper with rows and rows
of Adam Smith and dollar signs
made unrecognizable to me the world you live in now

compared to our days at University
and the answers you stole from my test sheets
to get through that economics distribution credit.

At your kitchen counter you strained the flecks
out of the Goldschläger
before you served it on the rocks.

That cinnamon burn released your tongue
to critique the ink stains on my fingers
and why your understanding of Darwin

does not explain how artists
refrain from starving to death long enough
for the current culture to lean into their vision.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Body Shaming

Lori looked at the many pieces of paper
pinned to her body by other people.

The word shame printed in many hands
in pen, pencil and marker.

Almost all of the authors were men
but twelve women joined their club.

One at a time Lori removed the pins
and their prickly critiques.

She stacked the pieces of paper together
bound them with a rubber band

and added them to her collection
sorted by date.

The pins she added to a garden-size trash bin
that was now three-quarters full.

The collection was quite large
and she thought of making a Rubenesque collage

out or all the pieces of paper
and several hedgehogs out of all the pins.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Praise the first handprint
on this rock wall canvas.

The stick-figure goddess
lifts her arms for rain.

Swift journeys follow
the hunt across a river.

A serpent hisses light—
holds the sun in its mouth.

Here by long cold ashes
a broken bone needle

rests with a length of gut
and flint shards.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul fades in the distance.
He walks home from a visit.
Earlier he entered my studio touched.

The second dictionary meaning.
Slightly insane. Crazy.
Affected by something unspoken.

He floated like a cloud.
Heavy with rain.
Too thick to catch a glimpse of the sun.

He poured himself a cup of tea.
He perched on a stool.
Then a workbench.

Then he stood adjacent to my canvas.
He pointed to something.
His finger touched the wet paint.

A combination of white and blues
in the process of becoming sky.
He wiped his fingertip on my blue jeans.

I turned to glare at him.
He stared back daring me.
My brush stroked his nose.

He broke into a grin.
The grin expanded to laughter.
His laugh was infectious.

We laughed for a good long while.
We laughed until our sides ached.
He clapped me on the back.

No rag removed the paint from his nose.
He exited my studio.
He walked up the grassy hill toward home.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


I wanted my watch to melt
like Dali’s watches.

My giraffes should not burn
at any time.

I wanted my body to fade
in and out of the landscape.

My elephants would stand
on stumpy legs.

I wanted my mustache
to grow long waxy horns.

My portrait should be

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul’s grief
chose not to speak
unable to find
the right words.

He purchased words for his grief
over the internet
but they would not arrive
for two days.

In the mean time
Paul supplied his grief
with his drawing pads
and colored pencils

hoping that
it would create a message
through an art image
before his heart broke.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Golden Aspen Leaf Floats On A Placid Lake

Monet was on his way to see me.
I know he was out of time.
His place in time.

No one recognized Claude at my cafe.
He commented on the poor coffee.
He delighted in chocolate cake.

It was his first trip to the American Rockies.
We discussed a lake outing.
Cobalt blue at high altitude.

He worried about carrying
his materials, pastels, paints
and easel the five miles of ascending trail.

I told him I had arranged for llamas
to carry his supplies
and our camping gear.

Claude asked if Picasso had contacted me yet.
He knew Pablo wanted to be first.
But was away on safari with Papa.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Unappealing art
smacks the witness
like a subpoena to testify
in a court case
that proves
the petty injustices
of modern life:
failing landfills,
opioid junky flophouses,
schoolyard bullying,
and the old guard’s
sense of privileged

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I wish the USA supported art in all its forms more than it does. Vastly more. Even bad art makes a statement. I should not say bad art, because art sometimes is meant to poke you in the eye, to make your skin crawl.

There is a popular type of art my university friends and myself labeled “Hallmark Art”. It was happy, easy art designed for a Hallmark greeting card. It was meant to put the viewer at easy. It was the beer and pizza of art.

Over time I came to realize it has its time and place too and should not be put down.

Art is often used to lift the social conscious. To expand the viewer’s experience.

I would much prefer troubled people to express themselves through art, than through a gun in a robbery or an overdose of a drug habit. This includes the large number of alcoholics, who turn a car into a lethal weapon.

If each hurting person could express their pain and society listened and then acted to fix systemic problems that would be a good thing.

Love & Light