Paul took a long drag
on American exceptionalism
while he drank
a pint of upward mobility.

He looked
from his laborer hands
to the barroom mirror
and searched his face

for the American Dream
and found the Liberty Bell’s crack
and the manure piles
of Paul Revere’s horse.

He taped the ashes
off exceptionalism into a glass tray
and relived the putdowns
he hears each day

by those people paid for their brains
not their physical actions
and the currency of elitism
over his bartered production.

Paul might have been created equal
but what was equal
about the poverty he was born into
and the wage war

his father fought each day
trying to achieve decency
against the ideals
of free markets and capitalism.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

As Long As It’s Out of Here

Although I live in Albuquerque
I see Dickensian ghosts.
Not a single Pueblo, Apache or buffalo soldier ghost.

Many of the ghosts are Marley-esque
but draped in modern clothes.
Some wear cowboy hats atop their heads.

A significant number of the ghosts
migrated here from the antebellum south
and appear to be plantation owners.

Since they are all white, I think
Capitalism occasions ghosts
through shoddy treatment of the poor.

Not all the ghosts wear Marley’s rattling chains.
Some are wrapped in barbed wire.
Others pierced with many fly-fishing hooks.

I have wondered Why Albuquerque?
and Why not Albuquerque?
as their destination and residence.

I think I will organize a roundup
like the ghosts are cattle on open range
and then drive them—somewhere.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The sun crawls across the sky.
So slow, I think it must fall to earth.

The dogs are off chasing raccoons,
barking through the corn.

No one can do enough for the poor.
Capitalism’s ethos refuses to pay more.

Not you. You have a six pack of Blue Ribbon
and your spot in the ravine

sandwiched between two blackberry bushes
where you wedged a junkyard bucket seat.

Secluded away from my teasing
you read your trashy romance novels.

I know because, from the hayloft
retrieving bales after the leaves fell,

I spotted the red cloth
you tied around a slender tree.

It once was your 49ers t-shirt.
Well. That red, if it was not.

The sun speeds up a bit
and pulls the wind up a notch.

I spy your 49ers shirt from the porch
when the wind flutters it like a flag.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tapered Block

Some capitalist song
sang my friends into enemies.

Maybe I should not blame the song
but my lack of attention

to what my friends truly value
or to my own ability for self-deception.

I saw greed wedge forth
a golden pig-god rooting around in the dirt—

disguised as Survival of the Fittest
with all of its frightened violence and rationalizations.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Day Of The Dead Barbie

In America
to be a recognized minority
you must be numerous enough
to provide a market share
for a limited edition ethnic Barbie
to celebrate her income earning power
for El Segundo California’s
Mattel Incorporated
multinational toy manufacturing
to take production capacity
away from Match Box toy cars,
American Girl doll collections,
the Polly Pocket line,
Ever After High dolls,
Monster High dolls,
Hot Wheels toy cars,
Thomas & Friends line,
and the entire Barbie
figurehead fashion doll
from its brand inception
back in nineteen-fifty-nine.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


A little more than a month ago local TV news had a segment on Dia De Muertos Barbie and that a limited edition was coming out. Since Albuquerque is majority Hispanic this went over well. Actually it went over well with everyone I talked to since Day of the Dead celebrations are popular in New Mexico.

Day of the Dead Barbie link.

Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) Wikipedia entry.

I like having a day set aside for remembering those who have passed. I find it much more satisfying than Halloween. This could be because I have passed the age of being able to eat sinful amounts of sweets without ill effects.

I think in modern times we forget that Halloween was called All Halo’s Eve. There was All Halo’s Eve, All Halo’s Day and All Saints Day. I do not remember whose tradition had it that the souls of the dead collected on earth and around All Halo’s day left this world for the next world. I will leave it to religious scholars to debate just what the next world is.

So, as the leaves fall, I remember friends and family who have passed during the year and over the years. It is not the only time I think about them, but I consciously bring up their faces from my memory and replay old encounters with them that make me smile.

Love & Light