Gills Lungs

For all the names
applied to organisms
for their ability to adapt
to evolving circumstances

some of those organisms
choose a hallucinogenic twilight
over facing
the hard work of change.

No! I do not utilize elaborate
words and metaphors
to speak obliquely about
David’s drinking.

Nor the amount of weed
gone to smoke or brownies
in Edward’s apartment
before noon.

I mean, with or without us
the earth and its creatures
will move forward, adjusting
their molecules

like the first fish
that dared to crawl briefly
onto the beach sands
some geologic long ago.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The ocean rose during the night.
More than high tide.
More than storm tossed.

It flowed through the first floors
of beach front houses
and unintentionally set two on fire.

It took wharf planks out to sea
for wayward gulls to land on
and curious dolphins to nudge.

The ocean went back down by morning
but left salty puddles
where the depressed land kept souvenirs.

An attempt to get over a little hump.
A new stretching practice.
Like Yoga. But for oceans.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sunday Night Baseball

Paul arrived with a garden sized trash bag
full of dirty clothes, an orange peel
and the start of a story he got lost in
somewhere toward the middle
where the hero seemed like a pudgy kid
with hairy feet and a stolen ring.

The clothes were not his clothes.
He found them along the road
and on the sidewalks on his way over.
Serendipity caused him to bring along
the garden sized trash bag in his left hip pocket.

The orange peel was actually two half orange peels
he picked up in our yard
unaware that we cut up one orange a week
and put it out for the song birds
on the belief or mistaken belief
it makes their songs sweeter.

The middle of the story is set in Middle-earth.
Which is something of a translation of the Norse
word Miðgarðr for this earth.
The one we live on now
with its pandemic and catastrophic hurricanes
and rise of authoritarian rhetoric
by people massively uncomfortable with change.
Like climate change.

So the pudgy kid is actually a hobbit.
A creation by J. R. R. Tolkien.
In this case Frodo.
As is the story and the ring.
But the moral is pertinent to our earth.
The evil of the world is defeated
when the common man decides
to take up the burden of setting things right.

Paul washes the clothes from the garden sized trash bag
so we can drop them off at Goodwill
or another five-o-one-c-three resale shop with agency.
Dianne invites him to stay over for supper
since it is easy to add another bratwurst to the grill
and there is enough sauerkraut and potato salad
to go around.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Home Improvements

Dora starts to change the world,
then learns a permit is required
from a global authority.

No one is quite sure which authority
is in charge of climate,
which is in charge of human rights,
which is in charge of economic inequity.

The UN is no help.
The State Department is no help, either.
The corner gas station attendant is pretty sure
Dora should meet with a guy named Eddie,
who works in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois,
in a third floor office above the bank
at the intersection of Crescent and Main.

Dora searches for him on the internet.
She searches for him in the better business bureau.
She walks down the street from the bus stop
and up the stairs to his office.

She opens a door with Revolution on it
in large white Helvetica lettering with drop shadows.

Eddie happens to be in.
He always happens to be in
when someone enters his office.

Dora notices she cannot get a fix on Eddie.
He appears to be from everywhere and everywhere-else:
it all depends on your point view.

The permit is a simple form to be filled out in triplicate.
It takes almost no time at all.
Eddie places the completed form
in his notary stamp and squeezes.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Climate Change Sonnet

Shadows ghost the cathedral walls.
Dove patterns. Elevated martyr patterns
surround bone fragment reliquaries.
Prayers scrape teeth and lips encrusted by fright feathers.

The fallen’s footsteps solidify white candles,
print post-Revelations prophetic verses,
fill the baptismal font,
fill the eucharist plate and cup.

The congregation’s emotional scars
glow cardinal red as the sensor swings
holy smoke. Forest smoke
still darkens the saintly leaded glass pictographs.

Houseless foundations shout Winter emergency,
flail words toward the keyhole of deniers ears.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney