It Comes

When Paul sits outside at night
with dark spread everywhere
he pretends a window
keeps the bugs away from him.

He set a mirror against the south wall
at an angle to view the moon
to double the number
of reflections of the sun’s light.

Though we stay up all night
it needs to be minus six degrees
before dew forms
on the grass or our bodies.

The neighbor’s cat
is surprised and perplexed
to find us occupying the chair cushions
it likes to sleep on.

Paul posts an invitation
for the sun to rise over the Sandias
and delivery is guaranteed
by this morning.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


After he spilled off his bicycle
broke his nose and cracked a few ribs
Paul fired his guardian angel.

She packed a set of towels and washcloths
as if his house was a hotel
where she paid cash.

Paul discovered mice moved in
to take her place
declaring his foundation the promised land.

The mice built bonfires
in the basement floor’s potholes
to roast a feral cat they trapped

with the help of two crows
and a barn owl
with no barns for seventy-five miles.

Paul’s guardian angel returned
the towels and washcloths
and a concert t-shirt she liked to sleep in.

When she melted into the sunlight
he surmised she was twelve-stepping
her way through fallen angels anonymous.


Dog chasing cat movies
went viral.

The cats sprinted up trees
to escape.

This was repeated
by differing species all over the world.

In thousands of postings
with billions of views.

A thousand million people
worry about the cat.

How the cat will get out of the tree.
Thus home.

No smart-phone documentarian
has yet filmed

a dead cat in a tree.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


A stranger’s smile
is best
because it implies
no conflict
and a willingness
to be reasonable
with the possibility
of new friendship.

Unless the smile
appears to be
a cat’s smile
and I feel
long whiskers grow
on my face
and my spine
into a mouse’s tail.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Blank Gun Silencer

Paul woke up Early on Tuesday.
He poured Early a cup of tea.

Early borrowed Paul’s car for errands
and stopped for scones.

Early returned home to find Paul
reading Blank Gun Silencer.

Paul returned his teacup
to the coffee table but missed the coaster.

Breadcrumbs littered the polished wood
around as well as on top of the ceramic dish.

As lunchtime approached, Early
stopped being himself, paused,

looked out the kitchen window
as a black cat stalked a roadrunner.

Paul felt sure this was a poetic metaphor
for the inevitable struggle.

The roadrunner easily evaded the cat,
leaping to the top of the fence.

Early faded out of existence
as the second hand swept toward noon.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Moon Traced A Slow Arc In & Out Of Clouds

There was still a Here then.
We had trouble locating it
as it rotated
continually turning.

It had a window by a door,
a birdcage is visible
with a canary
its song muffled by the glass.

But you remembered
three windows with drawn curtains
and a sense that Here
was where the secrets hide.

I remembered a cat
always interested in the canary
and how it leapt
and swatted at the cage.

We were somewhere else
and kept looking
away from each other
in search of a hinged door

that let us enter
the Here to meet with Now
sitting on a loveseat
watching the cat and canary.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Four AM walks past
my bus stop
as I sit on the cold green bench
awaiting the first
number fifteen of the day.

Grief litters un-mown grass
and concrete
around the bus stop
where it was left
by undone people
coming home from work.

Roadside, in the puddle,
the moon gleam
shows no sign of its craters
where a rat appears
near a grate
then scurries over to
the brimming trash bin.

Four AM circles back
in the guise of a feral cat
silently padding
through the taller grasses.
She strikes the beast
slowed down
by a partially eaten
burger with cheese.

The fifteen arrives
and I carry both
this stomach-filling victory
and family loss
into my bus ride trance,
but set it on the seat
across from me.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


No matter
how well
Paul feeds his cat,
adding fish scraps
to her dry
or canned food,
he cannot
stop her
from wishing
to taste
the finches
she spies
on the thistle feeder
from her perch
on the bedroom
window sill.

Yet, when
she steals outside,
the enormity
of the world
beyond the door
her knowledge
of her ignorance
of things
like cholla,
prickly pear,
and the neighbor’s
Jack Russell Terrier
that slips under
the fence slats
to tree her
in the Mimosa.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Emily Dickinson

The cat set the alarm for three-thirty-seven.
She was not very good with new digital technology.

The cat wanted to be the early cat,
catching the early bird before it got the worm.

The cat played Cat Scratch Fever at max volume
to guarantee I got up and let her out to implement her plan.

The cat got to her stalking place and settled in.
Dawn was still twenty to thirty minutes away.

An owl spotted the stalking cat and swooped down.
Its talons lifted the cat by the flank and collar.

After a brief ruckus, the cat fell out of her collar
and dropped twelve feet toward the cholla.

She made an amazing gymnastics move
worthy of Olympic Gold, so avoided the cholla.

The cat landed on her feet, which is guaranteed
in the fine print of every cat contract issued by god at birth.

The cat reentered the house through the door I cracked open
after hearing the brief ruckus.

Food from a can or packet sufficed
for weeks on end.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The cat, named Emily Dickinson, is a bit of fancy on my part. Being allergic to cats, I would never own one or reside with one. Over the years, I have had three poet friends who owned cats named Emily Dickinson, so there is a fingerprint of reality touching this poem.

Happy April Fools Day to all of you. Hopefully, you do not play the fool to someone else’s prank. (Wikipedia entry link to April Fools Day.) I like that in France it started out as Fish of April day.

My April Fools poem will not arrive at the Umflop website for a few weeks. I wrote it two days ago, but my linear self and editing process will not have it ready for the public viewing until a future date has made itself present.

Albuquerque is a city where the wild and civilization butt up against each other. Coyotes and deer are learning to live in the city. At the edge of the foothills a few dogs and cats vanish each year as snacks to mountain lions. If there is drought, which there has been for the past 12 years, bears will wonder into the city from time to time in search of food and water—dumpsters used by pizza parlors seem a popular destination. I have heard no raccoon stories in Albuquerque, so they remain a menace to our friends down hill and east of us (toward and beyond the Mississippi River).

The Rio Grande has its predatory birds. Spring is a time when bald eagles can be viewed on the river. A variety of hawks and owls are here year round. About once a month, our yard has a litter of feathers from a dove that was not fast enough to get away from the cooper hawks that live in our neighborhood.

Love & Light