Fiction

Most of my life I stayed away from the family farm.
Whenever I visited the family put me to work.

This is why I, a magic marker salesman, know
how to milk a dairy cow by hand.

My family on the farm has heard of the Covid pandemic.
They think of it as the nineteen-eighteen influenza redo.

Three of the goats amble in and out of the house.
They like to lie down on the guest room floor when I nap.

Grandfather sustains a quarter acre of prairie.
It reminds him of what his grandfather plowed under.

When I visit I think of my stay as a prison sentence
for psych-patients learning calm from animals and sweat.

All the poems I write while visiting I collect into a folder.
A label on the folder says Memoir written in magic marker.

After each farm stay, I am a bit more callused on the hands.
This does not stop me from writing a thank you note.

I post the thank you note near midnight.
I do this so my friends do not see me appreciate my family.

This way I can complain about the sunflower
that stares in the window when I exit the shower naked.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Positive

Paul lifted a baseball bat
swung it downward
and smashed a bar of soap.

He felt it betrayed him
and had to feel
the consequences
of his positive covid results.

He felt no better
for all the soap fragments
and their exploded grenade
shrapnel pattern.

Paul packed a small
cotton bag
with fresh pine needles
to remind him
of the outdoors he loved
while he convalesced.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tyranny Sonnet

Pandemic face mask tyranny.
Stop sign tyranny.
No littering tyranny.
Stay off the grass tyranny.

Clean up your dog’s poop tyranny.
Slower speed in construction zone tyranny.
Professional licensing tyranny.
Restaurant health code tyranny.

Water quality tyranny.
Dumping trash tyranny.
National Park land conservation tyranny.
Currency tyranny.

Golden rule tyranny.
Love thy neighbor as thyself tyranny.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

A Dark Body of Clouds

A dark body of clouds enters my brain.
It is a line from a poem.
It is a covid fog slowing my thoughts.

It is not I who caught covid, but Cathryn.
Being my friend, I share her burden.
This dark body of clouds.

Happily it does not cause dark thoughts.
The fog causes people to think she is a ditz.
In this shared existence I am thought a ditz as well.

The darkness is how cruel people can be
when their expectations go unmet.
Thunder voices hurl insults at our covid slowness.

We could hurl insults back at their ignorance.
We could hurl stick or stones.
In tandem we remain silent.

If we could find ninety-eight more people
to share Cathryn’s burden
each of us would carry one-percent fog.

Thus disperse the dark body of clouds
back into a line of poetry.
Oh darn. I cannot think of the poet’s name.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

The poet whose name I covid-fog do not remember in the last line of the poem is Mary Ruefle. The title is a variation from her poem title “Darke Body of Clowds”. It is found in her book “Indeed I Was Please With The World“.

I do hope you (dear readers) have gotten your covid-19 vaccinations. Cathryn is one friend who has long haul covid difficulties. Over the past 15 months several acquaintances passed away from the attack of the virus upon their bodies. So I hope you take the virus seriously.

Glitches

The drive-in has been out of business for a year.
A couple covid days it opened for live music.

No income to spray the hordes of mosquitoes
from the neighboring marshland.

Only two posts with speakers produce sound.
More static than dialogue.

John Wayne’s ghost wanders
the weed infested spidery pavement cracks

in search of his saddled horse
his trademark red bandana.

A cloud of arrows miraculously miss him
as he hoists his Winchester to shoot

in a movie set three years before
the precursor Henry Rifle was invented.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney