Autodial Once A Day

As copper coins sink
into the withered eyes,
his favorite cologne stains
the simple pine box
and per his instructions
mother dials his phone number
so it rings from within his pocket
and his recorded voice speaks
greeting to the anticipated
creepy crawlies.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Our Side

I no longer want to know the names of soldiers.
Good or bad, they are as thick as weeds.
All of them should cross over the river
to rest under the shade of trees.

The ground under that wide spread oak,
where the children share stories
and play chase games,
harbors a mass of steel helmets.

Their dogs dig up
an abundance of bones to gnaw
on history purposefully forgotten
so forgiveness might triumph over vengeance.

The river, as it is wont to do, will change course in time
and wash away the children’s footprints,
the dogs’ paw prints, the wide spread oak
and the tarnished rusted glory down below.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

On Time

Paul looked deeply
into his old dog’s eyes
and knew his old dog
wanted to die.

He lifted his old dog
onto the couch
so the old dog could lay
his gray muzzle on Paul’s lap.

For a time, the old dog
luxuriated in the familiar touch
of Paul’s hand stroking his back
and flank and behind his ears.

Then he sighed contentment
and left.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Private School

All the childhood years went by
without my child.

I cannot say that those years were stolen.
Death does not steal children like sex traffickers steal children.

This is what it took
to learn what my parents went through

when my brother, at thirteen, died from cancer.
Eventually, I forgave them for what came next.

And a hole in the heart filled with understanding. Forgiveness.
A tuition fee I never have to pay again.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I need a ride.
I do not have time to walk.

No one answers my calls.
My smart phone does not know who is available.

There is Lyft.
But money remains scarce.

The walk will do me good.
It may tire me out before I reach her grave.

A walk usually sorts my emotions.
Walking meditation is better than driving meditation.

Meditation is better than medication.
Today I need big medicine, man.

No, her grave is not on the rez.
It is up in the mountains.

One of those small family boneyards.
Pioneers from long ago.

It is up among the aspens.
I trespassed on some old claim.

Added her ashes to the earth.
One foot north of Josiah’s headstone.

Josiah’s last name is lost to time.
His headstone is cracked and weather beaten.

Numbers state seventeen-ninety-nine-dash.
He was born on my birth month and day.

There are four other unreadable markers.
Lichen splotched stones outline the size of the yard.

Her ashes are under one of those stones.
I scratched her initials onto that stone.

She is neither in nor out of the pioneer boneyard.
The aspens migrated over the plot.

No trail leads up there.
I start where a stream passes under the road.

My feet always know their way through the wild
to those stones among the aspens.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


My love for you
was so plentiful.
Now that you are dead
there is a massive
excess inventory.

I did not think
my excess love
would rot or turn to dust.
Still an inventory
liquidation sale
seemed inappropriate.

I considered
handing all that love
over to God
to disperse
to heaven’s inhabitants,
especially you,
but reconsidered
since it is mortal love
and should be
shared liberally
with the loveless
who are earthbound.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

No Questions Asked

The dust was dust, but it moved
in the guise of grasshoppers.
The dust filled an empty coke-a-cola bottle.
An old, greenish glass bottle
with the lettering stripped
by other self-motivated anti-corporate dust.

The high priestess of the desert
walked in the footprints of a coyote.
She wore disagreement as a colorful garment.
She wore sandals with bells tied to the straps.

The dust heard her arriving
near their new bottle residence
and knew her own dust
slowly entered the air exiting her backbone
as a processional through a gate.

The high priestess of the desert
drank some water from a canteen.
The water in the canteen replaced her lost sweat.
Her dust remained lost to her.

The dust remained dust
and accepted its new companions.
Dust released from the high priestess of the desert
joined the dry ocean bed of relatives
even though they carried no crust of abandoned salt.

The high priestess of the desert
laid down on a spot exactly six feet above
the bones of an ancient dolphin
that swam the wrong direction as the ocean died.

The dust was dust, but it moved
in the guise of grasshoppers.
It gathered in the folds of the priestess’ clothes.
The dust believed she surrendered.
The dust welcomed her home.

copyright © 2016 Kenneth P. Gurney