Paul’s dreams focused on the olfactory.
Unknown smells of obscure origins.
Smoke infused with grief.
Wet metal of a bell awaiting the call to prayer.

He recalled being five years old
and pushing a feather up his nose.
His first day In kindergarten
it was crayons.

At Sunday school the teachers
never brought in frankincense or myrrh
for them to scratch and sniff.
He never determined if his newborn brother was special.

Paul used his nose to detect Death’s approach
and managed to sidestep each grasp
before the boney hand
landed upon his shoulder.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Childlike they pant
like after the longest race
they ever ran at age five.

They have graduated
to colored pencils from crayons.
Now they have white paper.

Next to their drawings
they write poems
without academic structure.

They clamor for magnets
and the refrigerator’s surface—
the pinnacle of their success.

During the week
their poems go unread
caged by the colorful drawings

instead of framed off-center
with illustrated clapping hands
providing the approval they crave.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney