Maybe Someone Will Visit

I still wake at night around one
for an hour or a tad more.

I imagine this is part of the human experience
and why the ancients knew the stars.

At night the wind’s sound is so different
while sitting under the mimosa.

Some hot nights in July I dream snow falling
and stacking flakes on the spiky cholla tips.

Imagine if Queen Victoria visited Albuquerque
in eighteen-eighty-two instead of Oscar Wilde—

to be honest I am not sure Oscar
made his way to the Rio Grande or whether I dreamt it.

Some nights returning from outside
I spy envelopes in the postbox their delivery ignored.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Distant blue seems close.
Top cover.

Farther than
the descending sun.

This mesa solitude.
This waining.

My love brings them closer.
My love dances.

No steps codified.
Silly human.

Emulates the curl of smoke.
Emulates the miles.

Hears the orchestra—
adagio in thrasher alerts.

Cadence comes and goes.
Cholla stuck.

A single needle removed.
Released from its former self.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Merry Christmas to all the celebrators of the holiday. Merry Saturday to everyone else.

Saying I Love You

Think of all the straight paths
that raindrops take
that are deflected by tree leaves
and the leaves of other small plants and bushes.

I say this to illustrate
that there is no direct route
to where what one loftily says
is absorbed by another who is grounded.

I remember you were as severe
as granite rock cleaved into two
by tectonic forces beyond my imagining
along the fault line of my sins.

Which is worse. Stuffing words in your ears?
Or stuffing words in your mouth?
Or the entwining of spirits that takes place
no matter how casual the sex?

If it was in my power I would have your image
stamped on the coins of the land.
Real money. Not some commemorative minting
sold on infomercials at odd hours.

That is I find the absence of your body
adjacent to mine for a few hours a day distracting.
And I and fond of observing how you extract joy
from studying fledgling thrashers on the cholla.

I think. I think we should try conversation
to see if it leads to knowing what shelf
the milk is stored on in the refrigerator
and who claims the Eggo waffle when the toaster pops.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dear Desert

What I took
as stretch marks
you bear on
your belly
from birthing
the human race
was cracked
age lines
discolored with
sun spots
tectonic faults.

Beautiful still
in spite of
or because of
the danger
you might
once more
but this time
with sandhill cranes
to sound
the recall
so you may
return us
to a molten state
and reshape
humanity anew.

The bees
crawling from
the chollas’
magenta blooms
means you remain
sweet on us.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The debate cut its teeth
on the stone wall
and a solitary fright feather
drifted down
on an uneven path
where a boy crossed over.
It caused him to halt
with one foot on each side,
believing a snow flake
had fallen.
He lifted his head skyward,
mouth opened
to catch flurries,
but saw in heaven’s
persistent window
the mirror of his grave
freshly dug in the thick
cemetery grass.
He thought of his mother
crying out in grief
and wished to comfort her
but could not
un-straddle himself
from the stone wall
to return to his adobe home
through the landscape
thick with cholla
and the thrashers
that nested in them.
In this straight
he appealed to his
guardian angel for release
from spiritual obligation,
this errand of solace
for the bereft.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Close To The Edge Played In The Background

After the TV broke
and the odd monsoon arrived
I watched rain showers
float items down the street.

Pink plastic cup.
Stripped Barbie doll.
A torn love song.
And my neighbor’s melancholy.

When the rain stopped,
I turned to watch the cholla
swell before my eyes
though that is a trick of imagination.

All the Gold- and Rosefinches
returned to the damp nyjer seed
and jousted for landing
on the feeder’s mesh wall.

A dark-eyed Junco
with white tail feathers
got nicknamed
Tongue Depressor.

Tonight, I will tell my beloved
about an endangered species:
the Yellow Taxi I saw
returning neighbors home

from the holiday made longer
by mandated quarantines
and widely differing political views
constricted by No Shouting rules.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


For those of you who do not know Close to the Edge is a song by the rock group Yes. Here is a link to a YouTube playing of the song. Wikipedia has an entry on the song as well.

Confession: the poem is not about the song or any of its ascribed meanings, but is in the title because it was an ear-worm while writing this poem.

Twists & Turns

The early bird changes each day.
Junco. Thrasher. Dove. One of several Finches.

Watching them I get the sense
that yesterday is meaningless.

My impression is watery Time
treats them all as duck backs to roll off.

When the hawk arrives
shadow first or on the rooftop

the cholla becomes a prickly shelter
as long as the wee birds keep clear of the thrashers’ nest.

I witnessed a dove out fly a hawk
with tight twists & turns

that any dog-fighting pilot
would envy.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Snow Will Fill It Next

The empty nest
is a bird nest
in the cholla
outside our bedroom.
The thrashers left it
after their fledglings
flew up to the roof top.

This is the third time
this summer
the nest has filled
and emptied.

I think the thrashers
build the nest taller
over the previous egg shells.
The nest looks
more like a twig and stick
high rise
at this point.

Though I try,
the cholla’s arms
prevent me
from peering down
into the bottom
of the nest.

copyright © 2019 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


A cholla snagged bits of light from a single ray.
It repeated Morse’s S O S, but the ground
folded a wrinkle to swallow the message
unseen by hikers and mountain bikers.

A canyon towhee happened by.
With multiple backward jump-scratches
it liberated some dirty S’s & O’s from the wrinkle,
but swallowed most of them down like feed.

A ferrel dog startled the towhee into flight,
grabbed the plastic six-pack ring
dangling from the cholla for a tugging game,
like it once played with its former human.

When the plastic six-pack ring in the dog’s mouth
broke free from the prickly cholla,
the cactus ceased interrupting sun beams
and the ground ironed the wrinkle flat.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dianne and I do a lot of walking (hiking) on the foothill trails at the eastern edge of Albuquerque. We see too much litter. Some dropped by people. Some windblown from the nearby city. Some pink dog poop bags that other hikers never seem to return and pick up. Some days we pick up a few pieces of litter and deposit them in the trash bin and other days we do not.

I would like our governments to place the onus of recycling materials on the manufacturer instead of the customer. That way the cost of recycling is built into the purchase price, where I think it should be. I would like items such as thin, transparent plastic grocery bags banned completely. It is happening slowing city by city.

I have a habit of giving human characteristics to animals, minerals and plants. There is a fancy word for this trait that is just out of my minds reach at the moment. I do this because it aids me in seeing non-human beings as worthy of respect and good treatment, so I do not perpetrate the casual violence of littering when carrying it to a bin is inconvenient.

I am sure you have your own mental tricks and practices to be a better person, to care for this land we live upon. Thanks for employing them.

Love & Light