Exposed by the Elements

Paul catalogued bones.
He had no boxes so made piles.

On each bone he tied a tag
on which he jotted information.

Many of the bones were broken
or fractured.

Any cloth remnants
he taped to the bones by which they lay.

He placed loose teeth in a mason jar.
He placed loose beads in a different mason jar.

He placed oxidized lead bullets
in an old leaded green glass mason jar.

All of the bullets were misshapen.
Some bit bone fragments.

No weapons. No tools.
No other personal effects.

He knew he was not scientific
in the manner of archeologists.

He guessed he broke a law
about uncovering native burial sites.

He rationalized this was not a burial site
but a massacre site.

Working with the dead did not bother him.
He felt ghosts pass by him as he exposed bones to the air.

He did not speculate if the ghosts
rose toward heaven or just let him be.

Paul figured the magpies and crows
passed down stories of what actually happened here.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


This is a fictional “what-if one of my hikes passed by exposed bones” poem.


Paul’s granite expression
spoke volumes of crows
to the pentecostal lines
queued for their dunking.

Interrupted by a plume
of cigarette smoke
his cough coincided
with an earthly tremor.

The faithful thus shaken
took a step back from the plunge
to see if the crows smoldered
then burst into flame.

A few questioned
their stone tablet impressions
and the weight those slabs placed
upon their shoulders.

A gargoyle channeled the river to mud
and ended hope for many
unaware that a few of them
would not have resurfaced if submerged.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The trailhead plaque
warned of mountain lions
and bears.

A crow perched upon
the top of the plaque
cast dark shadows on the letters.

The presence of no one else
uninstalled the word intrepid
from my self-description.

I wondered if it was a good day to die.
I wondered if it was a good day
to catch a movie matinee instead.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Crows Flying

In a dream
the crows came
to the place
where your body
lay dead
and clutched
your limbs
in their claws
then heaved
their wings
and bore you
into the sky
in a reenactment
of how
they once
lifted the moon
beyond the clouds.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


A torn umbrella
tumbleweeds away.

A styrofoam cup
loop de loops and barrel rolls.

The rain drops sizzle
on the two lane blacktop.

Soaked red canvas shoe,
still bright, appears forlorn.

Blue gum wad
sticks to white edge line.

The clouds part.
Two trees rain crows.

A storm tossed man huffs
and puffs the diner door open.

The hostess refuses him
a seat at the counter.

His one bare foot
disqualifies entry.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Shrouding The Doorstep

A running narrative
curled past the curb
with minimal motion
and fresh history
of the children
beyond the railroad tracks
and its
telephone lines
with ever present
crows mumbling
untranslated elegies
for the eyes that look
at the green failure
and witness
the unwillingness
of plantation mentality
to stock haloes,
since they are earned
and not sold.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Gripped in déjà vu
an orange peel sky
gives way
to approaching headlights.

A long way from home
I am slowed by mud clods
upon other mud clods
unmoved by sticks.

Fence posts await barbwire
to become a barrier.
Crows break in the posts
while surveying traffic.

Despite the distant thunderbolt
my cell phone remains at zero.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


It is important
while you live
that you talk
to the crows
and develop
a comfort level
with their acquaintance
since the ferry
across the river
is a myth
and to fly you across
only crows wings
will aid your escape
from earthly shadows.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pine Seeds

We walked the edge.
The air tasted charred.
In places, the ground heated through to our feet.

An island remained.
Evergreens in a burn scar river.
Fortune smiled on future growth.

Crows circled for the unfortunate.
A porcupine limped across
black ground speckled with fire germinated pine seeds.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A 6-4-3 double-play of poems.
A smoke screen of poems.
A consequence of poems.
An enrichment of poems.
An exposure of poems.
A sequence of poems.
A conclave of poems.
A laughing of poems
An arousal of poems.
A corsage of poems.
A nesting of poems.
A murder of crows.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


A list poem like this might be indicative of a slow poem writing day or an imagination exercise. In this case no. This poem is three times removed from its starting point. I think three times reduced is a better phrase, since it is about one-third the number of lines it started with and I whittled out (with Dianne’s input) a bunch of lines where I demonstrated my love of my own voice and wit saying things that do not make (or obliquely make) much sense in the eyes of others.

Every good writer needs an editor. The better the editor the better the writing becomes. Do not be afraid of editors or folks who give you input about your writing. In the age of word-processors it is easy to make many variations of a poem without losing your original good (or bad) inspiration.

It takes me a month or two to get far enough away from my original creative spark to look at piece critically. When I submitted work regularly to publications I had to keep this fact in mind and give a poem time to sit around for editing, instead of immediately sending it out for publication.

If you live in the rain soaked part of Texas (the greater Houston area), please stay safe and heed your local officials. My donation to the Red Cross to help out is made.

Love & Light