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


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