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


Paul believes
he earned
something sweet.

He hoists
a pint of bitter

He measures
the conductive power
of a white lie.

Paul puts away
his verbal knives
but not his rapier wit.

He recognizes
how desperation
weakens his case.

He speaks over
his listening

The fruit
of his efforts
exits his proximity.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

I Almost Touched You

But you said I could only touch you
from the direction of the wind.

It was south-south-east at the moment
but at only three miles an hour.

I feared you would interpret it
only as a breeze.

Splitting hairs? You were
quite particular that Wednesday.

In a mood not to be trifled with.
You carried a note pad for taking names.

You had yet to call me Honey
or Sweetie or some other pet name.

I saw your shadow flicker
and snap straight like a flag.

From the direction of the solar wind
I approached you.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Asked Out On A Date

I will give you one hundred dollars.
There are no strings attached.
There are no loose threads.
There is a federal monetary security thread.

You do not get a choice of denomination.
I will give you one hundred one dollar bills.
Each bill is defaced with a ball point pen’s ink.
A single line of free verse poetry.

You may create your own poem
by placing the bills in a new order.
You may create thirty-three haiku
if you are not picky about syllable count.

But you must read a poem
each time you count out the dollar bills
to pay for a fast food lunch
or a small purchase at the corner store.

There you would be reciting poetry in public
to the astonishment of the listeners.
You might suffer some blow back and cat calls.
You might get asked out on a date.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I know
we are not strangers.

Let go of the rotting surface.
Bad days happen.

No canvas stretched today
will be blank.

The colors are pulled
from our unconscious biases.

Straight strokes or curved.
The bite of linen’s tooth.

I know your face.
The freckled pattern of your cheeks.

You know my emotions
telegraphed from the corners of my eyes.

In the sway of our lingering
familiarity balances with contempt

as you and I reflect
on liberties and unmet expectations.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

On My Own

A woman becomes a jail cell.
Her hiked skirt is not a gateway metaphor.

She has nothing to do
with the disappearance of Saturn’s rings.

If only the bad guys grew tusks
to reveal their true natures.

I left upon realizing there is no lock,
no key to hold me in this five foot eight confinement.

I insist my incarceration
was a case of mistaken identity.

I am not really sure who I am
to this very day.

A woman wobbled
like a large bell at the first rope pull.

She prepares to ring out Freedom
or ring out Emergency.

I failed to blow out thirty-seven
of my sixty-two birthday candles.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I was six foot five . Gravity is winning as I get older. I am a smidge under six foot four today. I never dated a woman who was five foot eight. In fact most of the women I dated in my life were five foot five or shorter. Once, I dated a six foot one woman, a blonde Valkyrie many years younger than myself just after my midlife crisis struck me. As you can guess, I did not go well. (It did not go badly either.)

I have never viewed dating or living with a partner as a jail cell. So I have no idea why that image popped up in this poem. Creativity is a difficult thing to place into definitions and parameters. Creativity is oft born of chaos, so expecting neat fitting boxes is silly. If I ever meet a woman who can make Saturn’s rings disappear I definitely wish to have coffee with her to see if any sparks take flight. But that will remain only a wish, since I love Dianne too much for infidelity to be even in a flicker of a thought.

That brings up the question of why do I write dating or relationship poems that are not directly connected to Dianne. I do not have an answer, except the notion that they are fun to write. Like musing on some event from youth whether joyous or traumatizing.

Tangent: once when I had a bit of writers block, the NYC poet Jaxx in conversation suggestion I go out and date the most opposite to my nature woman to get the creative juices flowing. I did not take her advice.

On my sixty-second birthday I did not have a cake with candles. Nor ice cream. I did have chocolate. But if having chocolate declares a day a birthday, then every day is my birthday. 72% dark chocolate is my favorite, just in case any of you feel inspired to gift me some dark chocolate. While on holiday in November, I dropped into the Kyya Chocolate shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They have a wild kosher salt 72% dark chocolate which must be placed on one’s bucket list as a means of experiencing rapture.

Oh. I got off topic. Chocolate does that to me.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


Should Be Transparent

Paul takes the term locked and loaded,
applies to his state of stubbornness and inebriation,
looks down the barrel of another beer can,
digs in the desert soil with bare hands
and replants a prickly pear his bare foot knocked over.

There is a cage called his apartment.
Lori disassembled all her illusory barricades,
then mined the sofa for change
to pay tolls on the road out of Paul’s life.
She left no note.

Paul watches a roadrunner size him up
as if it could swallow him whole
or at least peck out his shriveled liver.
He bleeds dots where he removes
spines from his calloused foot.

Lori’s hand bag is full of Paul’s gun metal blues
bullets, bullshit and a turtle rattle.
She intends to pawn these toward her escape.
She presses her tongue against a molar
tastes the last minty swish.

Paul limps back to his car.
The trailhead lot keeps his car stationary
and sand drifts like snow around the tires.
The wind blows a heavy chill laden with grit,
blasts blurry what should be transparent.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul is challenged by a three night stand
as to why he cuddles only after fucking.

He searches for her name under the pillows,
knowing this holiday weekend will soon end.

As he locates her name on the nightstand
under the poetry book The Woman Who Fell From The Sky,

he says, Helen, sex is the only way I know
to remove the protective armor around my heart

He wishes it was not so. He wishes he could
hug for thirty seconds instead of freaking out.

Paul watches her dress in the early slanted light.
Sees a heavenly angelic beauty upon her.

Sees a mythic dragon on the verge
of engulfing him in flames.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney