Empty Room

Paul gave a speech.
He started, This is about
the violence done to little boys.

It is about that strange
backhanded love
that blights
the household landscape
and lowers the thermostat
without touch.

He talked about waking up
in places other than
where he fell down
and how his limbs felt

Paul blurred his metaphors
and the images
from the old cellar
where his mouth first filled
with self-loathing.

He spoke, I have not survived
as each day I wait
for a sense of ending.

And as beneficial
as your listening is to me,
it is not an ending
or a beginning to an end
or anything other than
the completion of a connection
through storytelling.

But not if you run away.
Emotionally I mean.
In the manner of
That is his problem.
I am speaking about
how do I inhabit
my own body?
Or endure the press
of a woman’s body
against mine?

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wait For The Next Full Moon

It is Summer. Paul is cold.
His spine shivers. His ribcage rattles.

His shallow breath
suffocates his heart’s fire.

He will not share this memory
with you, or anyone,

because he has not yet shared it
with himself.

He was in his thirties
when the memory began to emerge.

Somehow genetics knows
only an adult can process certain experiences.

If only the release of this memory
did not have a time stamp,

forcing Paul to relive it again as though
he was four to seven years old.

How his logical mind fights the process
with adult suppression techniques

such as blended whiskeys, work
and over-the-counter medications.

His left arm trembles
as he reaches for the latest miracle cure

which is the booted foot
kicking the can farther down a long road.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

One Or Two In Every School

At a thousand yards
broken children
hear each others’ silence.

Without the superpower of normalcy
each knows they are a mutant,
wanna be X-Men.

Too young to understand
there is no such thing as normal,
they compare invisible scars.

The bewildering business of being
traffics in misunderstanding
and a roster of bullies.

On a future day, a teacher
will succeed in educating them
that they are fully human.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


If I inherited
my parents’ home,
I would have
taken it apart
brick by brick
and paid for
the foundation
to be extracted
from the ground.

Knowing that
sitting beneath
any hawthorn tree
with darting cardinals
and cedar waxwings
feels like home
as long as I
hold Seymour
the troll doll
my eldest brother
gave me
one long ago

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Private School

All the childhood years went by
without my child.

I cannot say that those years were stolen.
Death does not steal children like sex traffickers steal children.

This is what it took
to learn what my parents went through

when my brother, at thirteen, died from cancer.
Eventually, I forgave them for what came next.

And a hole in the heart filled with understanding. Forgiveness.
A tuition fee I never have to pay again.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney