End Times

In fairness
all fishermen
when they die
should be cast
to the sea
so the fishes
may feast
to close
the circle.

Thus thinking
cowboys
need to rest
under the sod
so they are consumed
by the grasses
that feed
the cows.

And poets
should go up
in flames
after so many
inflammatory verses.
The wind
can taste their salt.
Their water
will steam
and join
the clouds.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

My Few Days Working On A Ranch

The cowboy who bragged He could not be throw’d!
got bucked off by the chestnut stallion.
We took it for granted the horses were wise enough
not to brag they could not be rode.

The red-haired girl who watched us
separate calfs for branding
and burn our ownership into their hides
asked the sheriff to arrest us for child abuse.

I listened to more country music than ever before
but heard only one black voice
though I had read one-quarter of cowboys
who settled the Wild West were of African descent.

The day I helped mend fence
my more experienced partner
fell asleep in the saddle almost immediately.
His horse stopped at every break in the wire.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Taking Stock

Paul undresses.
He strips behind Denver skyline.

He evaluates his body.
There is no cowboy left in him.

Only the remnant bruises, scars
and mended bones.

He buttons a clean shirt.
He alters a setting in his brain

to Taos, New Mexico
and the mountains behind it,

the comfort there
on the rocky slopes

with a string of tourists
on horses that do most of the work.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney