Broken Helmet

My blood left my body
without my leave.

Three powers acted against my good will:
my pumping heart

gravity’s pull on my unbalanced bicycle
and the gash in my broken nose.

Blood did not gush
but dripped dripped dripped like a leaky faucet.

My nose screamed endlessly.
My mouth did not cooperate to give my nose voice.

Exposed to the air
my blood became oxygen rich.

Exposed to the sun
while pooling on the ground

my blood separated
into plasma and cell platelets.

My blood clotted quicker on the ground
than on my broken nose.

The blood freed from the tyranny of my body
sang jubilee and liberation.

Its songs were so beautiful
I asked my blood to sing at my funeral.

The EMTs hearing my muttered request
assured me I was not going to die.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


On 14 May 2021 I had a bicycle mishap and broke my nose while the ground gashed my nose open. The first person to come toward me in aid, blanched upon seeing me and got others to help. I did not realize how much blood was on my face, arm and ground when I waved to get their attention. After 4 hours in the ER, I was sent home. Taking a Lyft ride home (during Covid) from the ER is surreal. Technically my nose is healed, but still tender where my glasses press on it. My broken bicycle helmet is replaced and I am bicycling again and past the jitters.

Bicycling My Old Community

It was a shock
to see the adobe brick
was removed from the ruin
and to see a new structure
plastered and brightly painted.

The old wrought iron fence
with its spear-like projections
lay in a heap waiting
for workers to haul it
to the metal recycling site.

My eyes took it all in,
especially the checkerboard
tiled patio
that I was not sure
was true to the old ways
but looked trippy
for dancing.

A sign with pictures
of the two women
outlined the reclamation
of this historic building
and their plans to make it
an events center.

The sign spelled out
their names
and it was easy to tell
they were not from around here.
I wondered how this trespass
upon our mountain town
would go over with the families
whose influence
was revered like royalty
long before the Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

After A Rain

I noticed the ground never felt a drop.
The dictionary has a word to describe that phenomena
but I am at a loss for its first syllable.

I wondered if the parched vegetation
found this funny and laughed
with the reassembling clouds.

Heat rose from the granite.
It bent the air and formed its own
dry rainbows with dust.

It is silly of me to bicycle old US highways
across the continental divide
under such conditions,

but nothing much will change
until next month and I wish
to be home in Albuquerque come Tuesday.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

July Fourth

Fireworks started
popping off
each night
near sundown
in our neighborhood
from mid June
and kept up
well into August.

Early morning
when it was quiet
Dora drank
her coffee
out on the porch
entertained by
the thrashers
doing their back
and forth
feeding fledglings.

By seven-thirty
at the latest
I bicycled
a fifteen mile
loop to beat
the summer heat
and viewed
the burnt asphalt
and expended
from the previous
night’s colorful
of the lower sky.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Okay. It is past the Fourth of July. But on 25 August fireworks woke me from sound sleep as a neighbor or neighborhood teens set them off. I find I am willing to put up with a couple days of fire works explosions around the fourth, but not past Bastille Day at the latest. Unfortunately, the police have proved unable to enforce any ordinances against fireworks or excessive noise (short-term mobile noise).

Enough whining.

Love & Light.


Saint Christopher

I remember an old church
carved out of the back of a cave.

I am sure I was not supposed
to discover the practitioners’ secret.

But it rained too violently
when I was bicycling

and serendipity brought me
to the cave entrance.

It was the lingering incense
that emboldened me

past my fear of inclosed spaces
and that the earth desired to swallow me.

After a tight squeeze going upward
a dry gallery opened

with signs of the cross
and a crude alter of cut stone.

A bronze censer with its lid off
contained thick ashen residue.

A silver plate held dried out bread crumbs.
A crystal chalice wore smudged finger prints.

The walls exhibited red pigmented hand prints
and stick-figure stations of the cross.

I left my travelers medallion on the alter
as a sign and offering.

Then I left the sanctuary, the cave,
to re-entered the waning storm.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Although I have bicycled over 30k miles in my life and had my progress halted by severe storms on occasion, I have never found a cave to wait out the storm. So this poem is a fancy, a fiction to delight my imagination.


My wallet has two dollars.
My pocket has eighty-seven cents.

Not quite enough to run away from home forever.
But enough to run away for the day.

My bicycle navigates trails and back streets
thirty miles to a lake park with herons at the shoreline.

A photographer documents wildlife’s adjustments
to encroaching urbanization.

I ask the burger clerk if she enjoys
being the poorly paid instrument of unrestrained capitalism?

She stares blankly to a spot three feet behind my head.
Do you want fries with that?

An hour after watching folks picnic at the park,
I head home with three hours before supper

to work out a believable story of my day,
knowing suppertime conversation requires it.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


By the time I was ten years old, I started to adventure on my bicycle riding farther and farther from home each school-less day. A favorite place to go was the Morton Arboretum five miles from our home. When I was that age, the outskirts of my hometown still had cornfields and farm silos attached to barns. Over the next seven years, Chicago expanded outward over the farms. I kept riding farther and farther west to reach visible farms, woods, and lakes.

In The Bloodstream

Where lies the key?
I checked every pocket.
Every nook and cranny.

In and under
fifty-three self-help books
by domestic and foreign authors.

At a job fair I learned
I should use my gifts
toward my perfect career

which left me with the choice
of joining the French Foreign Legion
or becoming a suicide bomber.

As I practice exhaling the apocalypse
and envisioning a future
less bright than a nuclear explosion,

I am certain the mightiest proof
of my inner strength
is that I decided to make a career

out of bicycling from my front door
to Who-Knows-Where America
with the notion of reaching Nirvana

somewhere in between
leaving it all behind
and a collision with an untoward fate.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


In nineteen-ninety-three, while bicycling from Seattle to Milwaukee, I rediscovered my natural sense of wonder.

My friend Bob Hurly Bob joined this adventure. We knew we missed our chance to explore with Lewis & Clarke.

After a few days on the road, hours ceased to exist. There were three distinct times of day: dawn, hungry, and dusk.

A National Forest ranger dispelled the notion we watched our national symbol, a bald eagle, glide over and fish the McKenzie River. Ospreys are pretty damn wondrous, too.

One day we passed Oregon Trail re-enactors in a covered wagon drawn by draft horses. It reminded me my father served in the U.S. Army’s last horse drawn artillery unit.

Another day, in eastern Oregon we discovered we could attain thirty miles per hour on a slight incline. A rancher and his sons ripped apart red and white bullseye targets with submachine gun fire.

At the west entrance to Yellowstone an ambulance flew by on the narrow road. We arrived to hear a woman explain to the EMTs that her crushed husband petted a wild buffalo on the nose.

We purchased a case of beer at the end of each day near the hiker-biker campgrounds. We traded beer for travel stories.

A rodeo cowboy told us that anyone who bicycles up thirty-one hundred foot White Bird Pass is tougher than a bull rider.

The manliest man we met was a woman. She did double-shift nursing all winter along the US-Mexico border, then bicycled to Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada and back the rest of the year.

I do not remember how Bob got the second Bob in his name, but it’s sounded right every day since.

After nineteen hundred miles, I broke down outside of Caspar, Wyoming. Understand, Bob Hurly Bob ran marathons for fun.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

In Absentia

There are so many white bicycles
adjacent to Albuquerque roads—
two-wheel descansos for the crumpled departed—
that I consider giving up
my favorite mode of transportation.

Regularly there are fresh flowers
posted in the spokes
or tied to the handlebars.
I never see anyone tending these memorials
as I glide by on my way from way down there
to way up there.

Is it family members or riding community members
who tend the memorials?

Is there a church of bicycling?

I often wonder, how much farther
did the riders have to go?

Often, I feel the need to complete their journeys.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Descansos are roadside memorials. They are common in New Mexico to mark the scene of an auto accident that took the life of a love one. One that I pass by regularly in Albuquerque, has been tended for the twelve years I have lived here. The descansos for bicyclists are usually a bicycle frame painted white with flowers and special items attached to the frame. In my regular ten mile bicycle loop to Flying Star cafe, I pass two of them.