When I saw the quadrangle
of your face done up in the style of Andy Warhol
I thought of Mao. Not Monroe.

In the lower right corner was your name
proving you remember the skills you learned
earning your art degree

before you chose a quicker path
to fame and fortune
and the decadence that tags along.

I knew I was on camera outside your door
but not inside each room
as we discussed an exhibition of Dürer prints.

Your patterned wallpaper with rows and rows
of Adam Smith and dollar signs
made unrecognizable to me the world you live in now

compared to our days at University
and the answers you stole from my test sheets
to get through that economics distribution credit.

At your kitchen counter you strained the flecks
out of the Goldschläger
before you served it on the rocks.

That cinnamon burn released your tongue
to critique the ink stains on my fingers
and why your understanding of Darwin

does not explain how artists
refrain from starving to death long enough
for the current culture to lean into their vision.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

City And Tower

Adam and Eve
fully formed
and capable
of language
with our
Darwinian ancestors
who in different
parts of the earth
assigned different
to certain verbal
sounds and cues
so much so
that when they met
in a marketplace
of Babylon
the ziggurat
got labeled
the City and
Tower of Babel

and now
you must decide
if humanity
was truly united
with one language
before the Gate of God
was created or not.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Bay Laurel

The sand turns out to be rust.
Better than blue plastic micro-bead dunes.

Darwin teaches bacteria
to love to munch antibacterial soap.

Paul’s two minute black & white animation tattoo loops.
Technology has not yet mastered color.

Who will be the new Hiroshima?
Bomb bright. Shaped shadows.

A mother breastfeeds her child.
Cigarette ash pulled from the nipple coats the tongue.

The children with masters degrees in hunger
do not read our doctoral theses and bulleted rescue plans.

The recipe calls for three bay leaves in the pot with the dead bird.
Might as well pull them from Caesar’s wreath.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Before Backspacing

I ride the bus.
The number ten bus.
It does not have a bicycle rack.
I wish the bus was metaphorical.
It is as real as my wish for a car.
My cashless wish.
I cannot afford a new car.
I cannot afford a reasonable used car.
I can afford a junker.
It does not matter though.
I cannot afford auto insurance.
So I ride the bus.
Or I ride my bicycle.
Remember, the bus does not have a bicycle rack.
So I cannot combine the two sequentially.
I do combine walking and a bus ride sequentially.
I would like to walk while on the bus.
It would effectively demonstrate Einstein’s relativity theory.
The people I share the bus with do not care about Einstein.
Well, not to the best of my knowledge.
The worst of my knowledge calls everyone an ignorant boob.
And it named all the girls Veronica.
I am sure none of the girls are named Veronica.
Two women on the bus look like university students.
They talk biology and organic chemistry.
They might appreciate Einstein and my demonstration.
And Darwin on the origin of species.
But not Walt Whitman with his Leaves of Grass.
Wait. That was the worst of my knowledge speaking.
It is stupid. It is so stupid it spelled stupid stupide before backspacing.
Really. An evolved person should not call people names.
I guess I am not evolved.
I should read Darwin for Beginners.
I ride the bus, so there is time on the way home.
And the way to work.
Today is one of my two weekly days off.
I am on the way to the zoo.
I will seek Darwin lessons there.
I am sure Einstein demonstrations are there, too.
I bring Whitman along in my head
to recite to the animals.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I have never recited poems to the animals at the zoo. I have read poems from poetry books to the trees of woods I like attending. Generally those woods are away enough from populations that it was rare someone heard me reading poems to the trees.

In the 1990s I participated in guerilla poetry readings while I lived in Milwaukee. Usually the city government buildings and the downtown business center. Recite and dash.