A second harvest
snuck in before the first freeze.

A can of ripe pitted olives
empty—the attached lid pushed inside.

Ranks of aspens in one direction.
Files in the other.

The bones of a homestead
visible in a few chimney stones.

A path by the creek
maintained by elk and deer.

The raucous call of a scrub jay
from a lonely greyed fence post.

Country gravestones so old
the names are worn off.

A couple pearlescent sapphires
on an ant mound.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Red Hart

Inside the Lord’s pocket
lives a red hart
with velveteen antlers.

It roams the silky green expanse
the pocket’s narrow valley

It lovingly knows
this threaded ground it treads
and the ancient seams.

The red hart senses
a larger world outside the pocket.
A multicolored universe

with an inverted world
where all is displayed to the sky
and hills were smoothed by receded ice.

The Lord though
requires this red hart
held close to the vest

to power its face and tongue
to expand its songs
that burst stars upon the void.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

It Is The Grave In Blossom

It is the old loneliness
that crushes the Conquistadors:

the murder of the sleeping,
the unsung martyrs.

My country of white sands,
of fractured glass sheen,

failed to mark the Athabaskan
migration, the old grave locations.

It is like the Roman
to forget the Etruscan,

to build on the bones
of slaughtered towns,

to construct paved roads
over grass-edged paths

that once lead to deer herds,
to flocks that blackened the sky.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

If He Returns

My dogs drag home a doe
and pull her up the stairs to the porch
where they tear hunks of flesh and chew.
The drag marks upon the snow
lead three-quarters of a mile
into the wood to where she collapsed—
blood loss from gut-shot trauma.
I follow the drops another half mile
to a slight ravine where a red spray
displays the bullet’s direction
and spot the spruce tree it thudded into.
Nearby, I find human bootprints
that refused to pursue the doe
and finish it off with a mercy blow
then take home the meat.
The bootprints lead to a tree
with wooden rungs up into a blind
vacant except for an empty whiskey flask
and two Egg McMuffin wrappers.
My big waffle stompers
create an easy path to follow
through the snow back to the cabin
as I get tools to dismantle the blind
and relieve the spruce tree from its burden.
I know unless it snows to cover that path
it leads the hunter back to me.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This poem is part truth, part fancy. In the 1980s I lived at the dead end of a dirt road in rural Colorado. My dogs did drag home a dead dear once and pulled it up onto the porch to feast. But that was the end of it as far as truth goes.

It was bad enough being out for walks with my dogs and getting the occasional pot shot taken at us by stupid people who should never have been issued a hunting license. The federal land my acres backed up against were not hunting lands. Those lands were a few miles away. The house got hit twice over four years by shots that missed the target.

When stupid people mistook myself and my dogs for deer, antelope or elk and fired their rifles in our direction, I did get to practice (and increase) my cuss word vocabulary. Due to lack of use in the new century, my cussing is not as colorful as it once was.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.



The great plains are not a natural formation
but a playground built by a community coalition
of buffalo, deer and antelope.

Prairie dogs rent their holes,
pay a set fee for all the grass they chew
collected on the first of the month.

Birds were grandfathered in for the sky.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney