Paul believes
he earned
something sweet.

He hoists
a pint of bitter

He measures
the conductive power
of a white lie.

Paul puts away
his verbal knives
but not his rapier wit.

He recognizes
how desperation
weakens his case.

He speaks over
his listening

The fruit
of his efforts
exits his proximity.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Horace Greeley

Paul lived with his girlfriend
until she brought home
a dancer statuette with a clock belly.

Its proximity prevented Paul
from painting, writing poetry,
and fielding hot grounders at shortstop.

He ate a bucket of fried chicken
and used the leftover drumsticks
to remove the clock’s unwholesome aura.

He tapped on the statuette
with the bones until he worked up a sweat,
but to no effect.

After the two of them dropped dumplings
fumbling around with chopsticks,
he decided it was time to go.

Paul was sure an unwritten rule applied
that allowed him to not be home
when she returned from work Tuesday evening.

He packed while she processed
insurance claims for incidental auto damage
such as a grocery carts rolling into front grills.

Even though he paid for the bathroom digital scale
he left it behind.
His copy of Hirshfield’s After he left behind by mistake.

Upon arriving at his friend’s to couch surf,
he noticed a total lack of trees and grass
at the apartment complex.

He decided to think this over with a couple beers.
On his way to the bar he passed speed radar
that flashed thirty-seven, his lucky number.

He never stopped for the beer.
He pulled onto the interstate instead,
blasted Bat for Lashes and headed west.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I was thirteen.
I was cast as a nineteen year old.

The casting director
was my thirteen year old friend who wanted beer.

I was cast
to walk into a liquor store and purchase a six pack.

He wanted Heineken.
We had just enough money for Red White & Blue.

Yes. Red White & Blue—
a brand of beer originally brewed by Pabst.

It was very patriotic.
It saw its best sales during World War Two.

It is a dead brand now.
Current Pabst executives consider resurrecting it, but don’t.

I was cast to be a nineteen year old
because I was six feet five inches tall at thirteen.

My friend was barely five-seven
in his stocking feet.

My friend thought I would do this bit of theater
for three of the six cans.

I did this bit of theater
for his Ron Santo autographed baseball.

The liquor store clerk
never looked high enough to see my young face.

My friend and I ran into contract difficulties
while making this a recurring role.

The next time he cast me to be nineteen,
I asked for his Ernie Banks autographed baseball card.

It would have been easier
to pry St. Peter’s bones away from the Pope.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Napkin manifesto
memory dump
public therapy session
with green gel roller pen
does nothing
to improve
neon sign diner’s
antiseptic food
and apron wearing
blue haired waitresses
whose financial planners
were as savvy
as discarded beer bottles
along the narrow gauge
rusted train tracks
and all the Tupperware
leftovers becoming
biological science

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pub Food

On Tuesdays it’s quarter beer night
and two hot dogs are seventy-five cents.
That includes each and all of the traditional everything
that can go on a hot dog and bun.

Two hots dogs for seventy-five cents
brings the quality of the hot dogs into question,
unless they were purchased from some chain smoking mob type
at the back of a stolen delivery truck with the motor running.

The quarter beers are limited to domestic national brand taps,
not the local craft beers that are on tap as well.
Got to read the fine print of any advertising poster,
if you only have a dollar to your name.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This is a nostalgia poem. I have not seen quarter beer night since the early 1990s. I have not had only a dollar to my name since the early 1990s either. I do remember the people sitting around the pub, eating bratwurst or hotdogs, drinking our beers and watching baseball in the general camaraderie of the pub. My memory has probably makes the times seem better than they were, but such is the way of memories.

Love & Light