Lori looked at the grave of her despair.
How beautiful the thick sod and the simple white stone.

She considered opening up the grave
to be sure of decomposition.

Lori felt despair’s ghost reach from the other world
to grab her brain, twist her mind and skew her perception.

This provoked a drink shot of whiskey response
where Lori’s neural synapses exploded like fireworks.

She railed against the idea, but stood up
turned toward the current half-life iteration of a bar.

Lori felt the sky lower itself like the curtain
at the end of an Anton Chekov play.

As she took her third step, worms bit into despair’s tongue
and took away its ghost’s ability to disarticulate sentences.

Abruptly she stood in a fog bank
while crows scolded her for pointing aimlessly upward.

She began to parrot old sermons from nineteen-thirties
and forties Hollywood movies.

With squawks, the crows maneuvered Lori not home
but beyond their boundary in this world and the next.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul shortcut through a field.
It was not planted yet.

He could not tell his diary
if it was a cornfield.

The farmer had spread manure.
So to Paul it was a cow-barn field.

He had cleaned several cow barns in his life
thus knew the smell.

His squishy steps failed to elicit taps
when he tap danced part of the field.

It was a large field
so the flies did not swarm in his path.

The field’s bouquet filled his nose
with life’s promise.

He spat regularly into the field
so he might leave a little bit of himself behind.

The field would add microscopic amounts
of his DNA to the corn.

He imagined some crows eating an ear of corn
and thinking my that tasted like Paul.

Paul knew if he fell he would laugh at himself
until his new manure-mud-clown face dried.

He arrived at a post at the edge of the field
with a help wanted sign. It read scarecrow.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Traveling in Search of Adventure

It was not like when the warm wind
was a lover tickling my ear with her tongue.

I camped on one of the few flat spots
that defined the Continental Divide.

No fire. A reddish apple and almonds
was a feast for the century.

The stars were bright and numerous—
how could an ancient spot a new one.

I quieted myself and listened to the night sounds.
I fingered the brim of my hat.

Sleep was a flock of crows flown into my eyes.
The crows feasted on something dead inside me.

I awoke and they flew out.
I inhaled tastier air under a brighter sun

that intensified the colors of the rocks
and conifers and the blues of errant scrub jays.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

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