Power Lines Downed By An Ice Storm

Night leaves holes in the sky.
Polkadot daylight.

Callous goat milk
leads a singing cat to slaughter.

Cows do not run around
like chickens with their heads cut off.

The eggshells Paul walks on
crack under his unbridled worry.

I stay up at night painting
word balloons for bleating sheep.

Paul trained the cock to crow
on the hour and carries it as his time piece.

When I see ghosts they are always people
not any of the animals I’ve butchered.

No matter how many barnyard cats live here
there are always plenty of mice.

I left the bible out and opened to random pages
hoping they would convert to church mice.

Paul stood up and danced after eating ice cream.
The brass section started up.

He planned his next confession
to be a musical number.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Emoji Parade

A swallow collapsed mid flight.
Its autopilot landed it safely on a branch.

The day I thought fire rained from the sky
it was snow caught in the sunset beyond the clouds.

The dead apple tree becomes a host to animals
that prefer to eat old rot over crisp promise.

In the emoji parade I was the eggplant.
It did nothing to improve my dating status.

All the protests I birthed in thought but never made
visit my deathbed and ask Why not?

The swallow recovered itself, but walked home.
The neighborhood cat thought it a trap.

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

Cushion

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

Desert Meadow

Sage and rabbitbrush
mask jagged bottle parts,
cirrhosis of unrequited dreams.

A ferrel cat coughs up
columns of black smoke
from a fiery house six months ago.

A horse jaw protrudes
from a dry sandy arroyo
the will of flash floods revealed.

The wind’s breath bruises
a ponderosa’s bark,
snapped-branches rattle on contact.

Javelina family grunts around
bleached grey ghosts of barbwire fence posts,
ranch house bones scattered about.


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

POSTSCRIPT

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

Kenneth