Lanky Steps Trod

The street preacher who walked up to Paul and Lori
calmly told them to keep burning.

He missed giving the benediction at funeral masses.
He loved to speak in latin to lay people.

When there were no folks on the block to save
he sat and watched birds like flying farolitos at night.

He rejected all of the feminine questions.
He dismissed those he thought followed the cult of Mary.

He debated aloud with the voice in his head.
Occasionally he recited dreams verbatim.

Whenever he saw white collars his face drooped in sadness.
Whenever geese swam the city fountain his face lifted in joy.

He was an effective detour of gang-bangers.
They feared his glory might be contagious.

One day he critiqued maestro Leonardo’s Last Supper
while pointing at the window table in the cafe across the street.

He embraced his loneliness and solitary visions
confident there were people to save from monotony.

He removed garlands of unmet expectations from shoulders.
He implored passersby to expose their secrets.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

You and I

We never counted the hummingbirds
that visited our feeder.

I was the one who jumped to touch clouds
but fell short on every try.

You were the one who barreled rainwater
for the bee balm and butterfly bushes.

We hiked every mapped trail in the foothills
and many that were unmapped.

I was the one who spotted birds first
even though you were the birder.

You were the one who moved quicker and faster
even though my legs were eight inches longer.

We shared water from a canteen slung across my back—
a replica wooden civil war canteen with cork stopper.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Everyone Silent

Whatever it is that scares you
does a magnificent job of being scary
if the birds cease twittering
and insects hide their buzz
from air now bereft of the slightest breeze
because the wind is too frightened
to move.

But I know you will be out there
with your wooden sword
and a blanket substituting
for a superhero’s cape
to deal with the monster
that guiltlessly kills without remorse
or seems mostly like a great maw
that gobbles things up
leaving behind a void
as if all matter was consumed
by a black hole rolling
across the neighborhood.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Magpie

Paul records bird names in a little book.
He records Thrasher many times each day.

All of his thrashers are curved billed thrashers.
He is unaware there are any other types.

Paul thought about marrying once.
He wanted to be a stepfather.

The woman Paul was interested in
had no children of her own.

She collected strays from the neighborhood
which had a high abandonment rate.

Paul said thank you to her for the opportunity
but he was only in like with the woman.

He liked that she listened to his words
but came to understand

she only listened to every other word
unless the word started with a hard consonant.

Paul records Magpie in his little note book
for the first time while in Albuquerque.

After five days he crosses out Magpie
since no corroborating witnesses came forward.

Little did Paul know that there is a Magpie
and it records people sightings in a little note book

though no one has yet postulated
how the Magpie groups people.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Blue Irises

I see
the one solitary tree
that grows
behind your eyes
whose roots
bind to the rich loam
of your soul
and wonder
where are the birds
and insects
and climbing mammals
let alone any sign
of brown leaves
fallen and covering
your fertile
imagination.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Manifestation

All the birds singing
in Paul’s breath
blur the love poems
as he reads
at open mic.

How they got there
has something to do
with swallowing miller moths
attracted to his porch light
at dusk.

At his last checkup
the doctor
placed a tongue depressor
in his mouth
for a better look at his tonsils

and saw
a lesser gold finch
poke its head
up his throat
and sweetly call tee-woo.

Paul notices
all the birds go silent
when he thinks
a sparrow hawk glides
on thermals about his head.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cartoonish

The bricks soften.
The building bends
to create more space
for a bird to avoid windows.

Scientists ask how.
Social-Scientists ask why.
Bird watchers cheer.
Birds think it great fun
to see the building twist
and contort.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ready Or Not

The air shows no signs
of human progress.

Bird tongues wag
stone throws at bones.

This ninety-eight degree sunshine
is more than symbolism.

Each raindrop that fails
to hit the ground

never changes the color or temperature
of heated stones.

Familiar birds have flown away
and new ones have replaced them.

There is the option to move north.
They never imagined all of us.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Now You Know

Birds grow in the indoor planters.
Their beaks are the first part of a new bud.

Their colored plumage attracts insects
that they snap out of the air.

At some point their claws go from being
part of the plant stem to holding on to it.

Amazing. All of this from mid March
to fly away by tax day.

Now you know why we must
keep the doors and windows open in Spring.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Call

Dora catches sparrows.
I mean, she attracts them with a song.

House sparrows. Black chested sparrows.
White crowned sparrows. Cinnamon tailed sparrows.

Down from the phone lines they swoop
to her upraised arm.

They exchange sweet secrets
and neighborhood feeder locations.

They exchange nest building plans
and rules about egg warming.

After four days, I recognize a new call
to entreat Dora to the yard.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney