In America we do not have classes.
We have collars. Blue. Or White.

Paul alters that binary choice
to voter and non-voter.

There are no visual cues to tell
which people are which.

Paul points out that the person
who complains too much does not vote.

It could be America is bracketed.
As in income brackets.

Money does not create barriers.
Lack of money creates barriers.

Paul once met a woman
and they really hit it off

until she wanted to have dinner in Paris.
He could not afford three Michelin stars.

Let alone the supersonic airfare.
Let alone a tux rental.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Face Value

Paul got engaged
when he was nineteen.

It did not last long
because the girl did not wish to marry.

She did desire to wear
a diamond on her ring finger

and show it off to her girlfriends
for a couple days.

She loved Paul for not being mad
and for understanding her desire.

He did not understand
but simply accepted facts at face value.

They had a dis-engagement dinner
the equivalent of the dinner

on night he originally proposed
happily-ever-after-ing together.

There was no breakup sex
since neither of them felt broken.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul records bird names in a little book.
He records Thrasher many times each day.

All of his thrashers are curved billed thrashers.
He is unaware there are any other types.

Paul thought about marrying once.
He wanted to be a stepfather.

The woman Paul was interested in
had no children of her own.

She collected strays from the neighborhood
which had a high abandonment rate.

Paul said thank you to her for the opportunity
but he was only in like with the woman.

He liked that she listened to his words
but came to understand

she only listened to every other word
unless the word started with a hard consonant.

Paul records Magpie in his little note book
for the first time while in Albuquerque.

After five days he crosses out Magpie
since no corroborating witnesses came forward.

Little did Paul know that there is a Magpie
and it records people sightings in a little note book

though no one has yet postulated
how the Magpie groups people.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


I attended one powwow in my life.
A white woman took me to the event.

Her stated goal was to get me to try fry bread.
It was tasty. All high-carb, salt & fat combinations are tasty.

I spent most of my time in the grand stands watching.
Dancers performed symbolisms I did not understand.

The woman was away from me most of the time
busy making musical connections.

Her day job was with a music company
that specialized in New Age and Native music.

Her company wanted wooden flutes and drums.
Not Joy Harjo and her saxophone.

So I did not see Joy Harjo as I hoped
when I agreed to go to the powwow.

Harjo was not on the list of headliners
so my hope fooled me into saying yes to going.

It could be the desire to get laid by this white woman
lied to the hope part of my brain.

An Ojibwa woman sat and talked with me for a while.
Her goal was for me to buy her some fry bread.

She spent all her money getting to the powwow
and she had not sold any of the cornhusk dolls she made.

She sized me up as the kind of guy
who would not spring for a green chili cheese burger

sweet potato fries and a coke.
I bought both of us green chili cheese burgers, fries and cokes.

She went back to her booth with her food.
I went back to my place high up in the stands.

I would tell you more but information overload
from all the powwow sights and sounds

has not yet been translated into a linear story
with a beginning middle and end.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not My Corner Bar

I sat on a barstool.
On both sides of me were attractive women.
They faced away from me talking to attractive men.

I sipped my Guinness.
I tore myself in two listening to both conversations.
I tore myself in two over a lot of mundane nothings.

I held myself together in the bar room mirror.
The mirror allowed me to see both women’s faces.
The one on my right wore a darker shade of lipstick.

She also showed more cleavage.
She also flicked her hair regularly with her left hand.
She also drank quickly and ordered another.

When I entered the bar earlier I thought I wanted a Guinness.
I was wrong. I wanted human interaction.
Bartenders are priceless while placing an order.

Here I was sandwiched between two interactions.
Neither was mine to share in.
I stole some of each interaction for myself.

After taking another sip I realized this was a downer.
I got up and left my half-full half-empty pint.
I left the stolen interactions as a tip on the bar.

Inadvertently I bumped the woman on my left.
I apologized but the man she talked to decided to stand up.
He got all tough and in my face.

I asked if he got all tough and in my face
to show off and increase his chances of getting laid?
Or for the fun of it?

Hearing me he had the good sense to back down.
Not because I am tough.
But because the muscular bouncer was on his way over.

Anyway the girl had grabbed his arm.
If he’d taken a swing at me he’d have elbowed her nose.
Maybe a girl on his arm was all he wanted?

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


She wrapped
aluminum foil
around my head.

My mental static
did not go away
as promised.

She blamed me
for being unreceptive
to her personality.

I thought
another bottle of merlot
won’t save this evening.

Even though
the wine was served in paper cups
and accompanied

a veggie pizza
served on stiff paper plates
that absorb the oils.

A photo
of the Columbia River Gorge
hung on her wall

displaying salmon
leaping through
the rapids.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Building A Swipe-Right Profile

All Paul looked for
was a woman his age
with realistic expectations
of the human condition
and to seriously
not take things too seriously.

He told me over tea
he did not want that youthful love
where sex tangles up
both people without really seeing
each other for who they are
in less than a year.

If she asked him to take her
to his childhood home
he would refuse
and become silent knowing
there would be no right time to tell
that story and hope
she could connect the blurred dots.

He would offer to clean house
and do the grocery shopping
because he enjoys those things.
But she would have to
call the doctor for him
when he needed an appointment
because that was beyond his abilities.

And plastics. She would have to try
to remove as much plastic as possible
from their shared lives
even though that task is Sisyphus
pushing the rock against gravity each day.
But the job left un-started
never gets finished.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pieces Falling Into Place

In your bedroom
a package of chocolate chip cookies
rests on the unkempt sheets
waiting for you to eat the surviving half.

From the swollen cookie crumbs
in the bottom of a nightstand tumbler
that smells like whiskey
I deduce it will be later today

when you right-swipe
more photos of women
a couple years younger
than the fifty you recently turned

so the money you spent
on condoms is not wasted.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


We never
reveal our tipped wings.

our right to bayonet charges.

A Cooper’s Hawk
dismantles a struck dove.

Right there
fright feathers finally land.

Incomplete statistics
rarely have true meaning.

You prefer raw data.
I prefer a glass of cabernet.

We move
toward and away from each other.

We have sex
on a departures time table.

A colored sunset
reminds you of the hawk’s bloody beak.

I want to feel
her talons latch on.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney