For all the words I rehearsed
and never spoke.

For the yeses I was too afraid to utter.
For the strength to say no when appropriate.

For the woman
who resembles Delphi incarnate.

For my confidence a loving god
embraces my abusive parents in heaven.

For the quiet I locate inside me
when I sit among trees.

For the words that form poems
that originate in that un-thinking somewhere.

For the angels I spy and interact with
whether real or not.

For that sense that the answer is always there
if I learn to open up enough to receive it.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Our Roof Always Sheltered Us

It was day before I knew it
because I slept late
but made it to work on time.

We were free to ride the elephant
which is what we called
our truck coated in grey primer.

I knew as we drove
this land was our country
for as far as we could drive in a day.

As we drove we spotted
white and black faces
along the side of the road

and all the shades of brown—
all with their thumbs out
heading north at a snail’s pace.

Our job was to hand out bottled water
to the thirsty
and PB&Js to the hungry

then report the body count
to a sixth floor office
in a dull white municipal building.

It seemed we should be reporting
to a cathedral or church
responding to some biblical edict.

But no. It was our response to music
both inside and outside our heads.
Half hearing. Half reacting.

Most days Delphi and I never saw
any other traffic.
Half a tank out and half a tank back again.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Faces Unpainted by Prophesy

I danced with Delphi.

Something Greek but universal
with moonlight.

A cobbled street
lined in trees
at the edge of town
went outward
and uphill.

My body rang
with each step
and each step shared.

Two frequencies
and overlapped.

At no time did we
let go of each other’s hand.

So giddy I became
when the air
thinned of vendors
and consumers.

The closed flowers’
heads dangled.

Out to her old stones in ruin.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Empty Squares

Delphi stopped playing
with the lives of people who sought her advice.

She remembered moving stick figures
around a national game table.

The stick figures always stood straight—
never bent by earthly concerns.

She made them so they would not
display weakness

while in pursuit of what they thought
they wanted.

Fake it until you make it
or something similar in Agamemnon’s Greek.

She knew the futility of aspiration
without self-knowledge.

She knew no chess piece asked to be moved
from its rank or file.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Delphi tells new people she meets
they wear the face of God.

Those people who see
a demon in the mirror

choose not to believe her
for at least ten hearings.

It is only after the twelfth time
a crack in their marble facades

appears in the faintest
glimmer of a smile

that the unassumed dare
might contain an ecstasy.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Delphi Sits Upon Her Throne

Her throne is an exposed rocky spot
at the top of a wooded hill.

The stone admits it is not simple granite
but embodies a silent and patient yet local god.

Delphi enjoys laying on the sun warmed rock
and conversing with the local deity.

Their words vibrate the forest around them.
They speak with that much weight.

Sometimes the forest god joins them
in the guise of an animal

or under the bark and in the sap
of the nearest ponderosa pine.

Sometimes the three of them watch the eternal dance
as performed by the stars in the night sky.

Once I accompanied Delphi to the wooded hill.
We sat upon the rock together.

The local god spoke a greeting to me.
I felt indescribably vulnerable

as if its silent voice was a key
that opened me up for the whole world to view.

As fear nearly pushed me past the edge
Delphi clutched my hand.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Compass Points

At certain angles
Delphi appears to be a long river
with a man standing
in the flat bottom of a rectangular boat
polling it forward.

At another angle
each of her spoken words
forms a picture
of a house that means home
with the smell of hot apple pie.

Head on you see your church
and a bell in the tower
that peals bird songs
and the freshness
of the instant an April shower ends.

From the backside
you see the uninvited stranger
who threatens you
by reminding you to live the core
of your belief set every day.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


This lumbering sleep
meanders through
the frenzied black.

Delphi slaps the pillow
four times, swats
separate moon beams.

Her trembled body
tasks a whole breath
to a staggered minute.

This curtain I close
traps the moonlight
within the bulbous comforter.

When she wide-eye stares
at me, sees nothing, my startled
breath exclaims her waking.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney