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

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