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

Last November

Thank you for your letter
hand written on a card
with a photo of a goldfinch on the front,
written in your signature sepia ink.

You wrote your letter
on three of the four possible sides.
You had a dot-dot-dot
over the credits and copyright information.

I expect there is a second card
in the postal system somewhere
with more of your sentences
and a few pithy sayings from Bartlett’s.

This leaves me guessing
if you continued with birds
or shifted to Hieronymus Bosch’s
Garden of Earthly Delights.

Or maybe you had a left over birthday card
with a little mouse holding colorful balloons
and you taped a stick of gum inside it
like you did last November.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Never Forgot How To Fly

Paul cracked two eggs into a skillet.
He broke both yokes.

He considered wearing only a star-spangled tie
and nothing else.

It was too cold for such silliness.
His objection had nothing to do with his love handles.

Paul realized his life is in the middle
of a horrible accident that ends in explosions.

His smart phone glass radiated cracks.
That was seven mirrors worth of bad luck.

Last week he removed the gold in his teeth
for beer money on Two-for Tuesdays.

Paul worked cataloguing the world’s sins.
His recent favorite was Wrath.

Even though he watched The Great Escape
fifty-one times, he identified

with characters who got recaptured
or gunned down after a chase scene.

Long ago he stopped trying
to let his life follow God’s plan.

He’d seen the blue prints.
He was a nested egg swallowed whole by a snake.

Paul decided to live like the walking dead.
This allowed him to throw away his cares.

His cares were plucked by a drunken violinist
stuck in a balcony playing background music.

The inevitable explosion came as he noted
Lori’s phone number in his black book.

His afterlife party released a broad assortment
of caged birds from world zoos.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Snow Will Fill It Next

The empty nest
is a bird nest
in the cholla
outside our bedroom.
The thrashers left it
after their fledglings
flew up to the roof top.

This is the third time
this summer
the nest has filled
and emptied.

I think the thrashers
build the nest taller
over the previous egg shells.
The nest looks
more like a twig and stick
high rise
at this point.

Though I try,
the cholla’s arms
prevent me
from peering down
into the bottom
of the nest.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Six Inches

The bird by my feet
was dead before I arrived.
Stripped of flesh and feathers
windblown to nearby cactus spines
the skeleton remains intact,
which informs me no cat or roadrunner
committed this violence.
A crack in its skull suggests
a startled window impact
and dizzy meander
to this brush protected place
fifteen yards from the patio glass.
I declare this section of the garden
an avian graveyard.
There is something fitting
about bee balm roots
twining a myriad of bones
six inches beneath the surface.


copyright @ 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney