The astrologer
asks Paul
if he has
always been
a Scorpio.

I doubt it
he replies.
My restless birthday
moves yearly
about the calendar
to the month
with the best

copyright © 2022 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

On My Own

A woman becomes a jail cell.
Her hiked skirt is not a gateway metaphor.

She has nothing to do
with the disappearance of Saturn’s rings.

If only the bad guys grew tusks
to reveal their true natures.

I left upon realizing there is no lock,
no key to hold me in this five foot eight confinement.

I insist my incarceration
was a case of mistaken identity.

I am not really sure who I am
to this very day.

A woman wobbled
like a large bell at the first rope pull.

She prepares to ring out Freedom
or ring out Emergency.

I failed to blow out thirty-seven
of my sixty-two birthday candles.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I was six foot five . Gravity is winning as I get older. I am a smidge under six foot four today. I never dated a woman who was five foot eight. In fact most of the women I dated in my life were five foot five or shorter. Once, I dated a six foot one woman, a blonde Valkyrie many years younger than myself just after my midlife crisis struck me. As you can guess, I did not go well. (It did not go badly either.)

I have never viewed dating or living with a partner as a jail cell. So I have no idea why that image popped up in this poem. Creativity is a difficult thing to place into definitions and parameters. Creativity is oft born of chaos, so expecting neat fitting boxes is silly. If I ever meet a woman who can make Saturn’s rings disappear I definitely wish to have coffee with her to see if any sparks take flight. But that will remain only a wish, since I love Dianne too much for infidelity to be even in a flicker of a thought.

That brings up the question of why do I write dating or relationship poems that are not directly connected to Dianne. I do not have an answer, except the notion that they are fun to write. Like musing on some event from youth whether joyous or traumatizing.

Tangent: once when I had a bit of writers block, the NYC poet Jaxx in conversation suggestion I go out and date the most opposite to my nature woman to get the creative juices flowing. I did not take her advice.

On my sixty-second birthday I did not have a cake with candles. Nor ice cream. I did have chocolate. But if having chocolate declares a day a birthday, then every day is my birthday. 72% dark chocolate is my favorite, just in case any of you feel inspired to gift me some dark chocolate. While on holiday in November, I dropped into the Kyya Chocolate shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They have a wild kosher salt 72% dark chocolate which must be placed on one’s bucket list as a means of experiencing rapture.

Oh. I got off topic. Chocolate does that to me.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


Against The Wall

Our poetry group
allows a class of psych majors
to observe us
as we undertake writing exercises
and read first drafts to each other
for critical review.

One doctor sharpens
2B pencils
to be helpful
oblivious to the fact
all of us write in ink.

They stand witness
of the altered behavior
caused by their viewing.

We are accustomed
to writing poetry in crowded cafes.
Given a few minutes
we tune them out
and return to our normal behavior.

The session concludes
in a surprise birthday song
with cake & candles for Joanne.
The doctors reappear
from where ever it was
we vanished them to
and they partake
at Joanne’s insistence.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney