Social Connection

Pretty soon
I started lubricating myself.

First with an inexpensive brand
of olive oil
then ten-w-thirty
synthetic motor oil.

My goal of fitting
into crowded spaces
was semi-successful
in that people
gave me room
to pass through the gathering
as long as I did not rub shoulders.

The method of beer
wine or fermented grains
seemed popular
but too often led to
awkward morning reacquaintance
and diminished self-respect
in direct proportion to the loss
of self-restraint.

There was flattery.
I learned to spread it like jam.
My success was coupled
with the level of sincerity I could muster.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Although she wears
ample curves
Lori feels her rough edges
and believes
they provide hand holds
for someone to climb.

She wants a man
who ascends mountain tops
not one who descends
into dark caves
with artificial light.

When she meets a man
she wishes him
to climb upon a scale
where she can
weigh his soul.

And to wash him
to view if his heart
is so open
it leaves blood
upon the cloth.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Name on the Best Seller List

Paul thought back to his first time making love.
It was in a sleeping bag while camping.

Two sleeping bags zipped together.
The romance of the stars above.

He remembered how relaxed they were in the afterglow.
How they made up new constellations.

The backstories for those star groupings.
How a sliver of moon pierced the sky.

He hated that the romance did not last long.
The two of them. Together.

Though they were good together.
Kind. Considerate. Tender.

Their goals were in different directions.
Hers to the flat city. His to the mountainous wilderness.

Neither of them wanted to give up their dreams.
Or for the other to give up their dream.

So they parted well. With good wishes.
But they lost touch in less than a year.

Paul thought about her brown eyes.
Her straight black hair. Her soft hand in his.

He remembered that he was more afraid than she.
It was his first time. But not hers.

He remembered she was so plainly human.
Not much pretend about her.

Like the mountain forests he loved to wander.
Like the revealing books she wrote.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


We watched the eclipse of the moon
from the edge of the yard
where the curb defined the street.

As the moon grew darker
we brightened—
words of greeting first met.

Orbital in conversation
we determined to see the fragment
each one was of the other.

At the margins time existed.
The moon cleared
and performed its setting melody.

Sun stroked the top mimosa leaves.
Stumbled words invited
a second meeting with intention.

Street lamps wink out.
A date refused to be a cliff’s edge.
A ballgame—so blank linen or parchment.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


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