Paul’s granite expression
spoke volumes of crows
to the pentecostal lines
queued for their dunking.

Interrupted by a plume
of cigarette smoke
his cough coincided
with an earthly tremor.

The faithful thus shaken
took a step back from the plunge
to see if the crows smoldered
then burst into flame.

A few questioned
their stone tablet impressions
and the weight those slabs placed
upon their shoulders.

A gargoyle channeled the river to mud
and ended hope for many
unaware that a few of them
would not have resurfaced if submerged.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Questions

Why is not
a mother’s water breaking
the baptismal font
of the variable rites
of religious admission?

Why the charade
of a church man
with a few blessed drops
or at the riverside
dunking a whole body
in the current?

Why again
at confirmation
this sealing of belief
and commitment
with massive peer
and congregational pressure
applied to what should be
a matter of free will?

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


I am still mourning.
My child was stolen by cruel Fate.

The Norns smiled at me from a foggy backdrop.
They required of me the toys I purchased.
They required of me the handmade clothes I stitched.

These things slid into their bubbling cauldron.
Washed clean of my language,
they were given to another family far, far away.

I am asked to learn a foreign tongue.
To recite border prayers with unfamiliar words.
I receive a baptism splashing across the Rio Grande.

I am still mourning.
My emotions nailed to a bulto awaiting my conversion.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney