Pent Up

Paul let his hammer sing
through the air and crash

on two small plastic toys
that broke previously

under his boots
because he did not bother

to carry a flashlight
on this well known patch

of woods and rocks
last night after dark,

returning from watching
a cormorant at dusk

out of place
on a beaver pond

on the stream
carrying snow melt

down the unvisited
mountain top.

Paul’s dog flinched
each time the hammer struck

and little pieces flew
in all directions

for Paul to vent is rage
at turning his ankle

a deep blue-black
and swollen

after sidestepping
other might-be toys

and landing on
a tree root wrong.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Trick Of Light

speaking for the dead,
a reflection
of a musical road
opens in the starry sky
to the sound
of rubber
on gravel.

See the split second
animal lives
as species struggle
to answer the call
of the twisted snake
inside them.

Might as well
eat both feet
up to the ankle
to form a human

Tell the dog
this act
is symbolic
and she is safe
even when she hears
jump start
the wild hunt.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A dog waits for the right person.
Her nose records stories.

The right person will know her name.
There will be a ball of the right size.

It will not squeak.
No squeaky toys!

The yard will house three point two squirrels.
She will keep the squirrels treed.

The person will understand her contract
prohibits killing squirrels.

As long as they stay in trees.
On the ground—fair game.

Her right person will not use her
to torment frightened people onto slave ships.

Her right person allows laborers to unionize
and drive hard, but fair bargains.

No rounding up cattle.
They have enough problems.

In a famine her right person
will share the last scrap of food with her.

She half-closes her eyes
and sniffs more stories as they walk by.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

First Thing

Paul woke up.
The remnants of a hot dog bun
littered his sheets and blankets.
He looked into the bathroom mirror
and asked, What happened?

His mirror image
launched into a long story
about his golden retriever
leaping out of an airplane,
the parachute not opening,
the impact destroying
the church steeple
and how he ate his sorrow
all hours of the night.

Paul stood slack jawed
as his mirror image
finished off the story
with gory embellishments
too terrible to hear.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

At Thirteen

My parents left the house.
They left me alone.

I am less alone than when they are present.
I will be less alone for ten days.

The dog is asleep.
We walked seven miles.

We walked that distance as a delaying tactic
so my parents would be gone

by the time the dog and I
returned to the house.

The dog gives little woofs
through her sleep.

The TV plays without sound
so the dog may sleep

with her head on my thigh
on the couch were she is forbidden.

My mind rotates through subjects
just as the TV slow motion baseball rotates

on its way to home plate
to complete its part of the pitch.

A squirrel looks in from the window.
It presses paws to glass.

It knows this is the spot
where my parents place peanuts to attract it.

This spot is adjacent to the door
that allows the dog into the yard.

When the squirrel sees I do not move
it jumps on to the bird feeder

and knocks its willy-nilly
so seed scatters on to patio stones.

The squirrel scoops up the seed.
The TV shortstop scoops up a ground ball.

A double play is turned to end the inning.
The dog repositions her sleeping head.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Outside A Small Town

On the neglected billboard
the wind created a collage
of nine previous messages.

Addictions really.
Imperatives posted
by pushers of agendas

laced with profit motive,
not love. A wandering dog stops
and sniffs the wooden pole that forms the base.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Beach or No

Paul sits at the end of a beach.
In your mind do you see him
where the water meets the sand
or where the sand meets the grass?
Or way off to the left where the rocks stand tall?
Or way off to the right by the asphalt parking lot?

I will not be surprised by your answer.
Even if you place the end smack dab in the middle of the beach.
Our perception of the end changes as the fog drifts and rises.
The wandering dog changes our perception of the end as well.

What if Paul sat on the last grains of beach sand remaining?
What if Paul sat at the end of time on a beach?
What if Paul’s dog carried a stick from the other side of the ocean?

What if time is a song with inaudible lyrics?
What if we all inaudibly sing a part in that song?

Prepare to sing inaudibly. Your time is about to begin.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Test Of Time

Dora sat writing poems with a fountain pen.
She wrote outside during a thunderstorm.
The armchair poets would unplug their computers.
The blood and guts poets would thrust their fountain pens skyward.

Dora’s three legged dog balanced comfortably.
Dora rescued the dog from the people who ran her over.
The people who ran her over loved her and owned her.
The dog was happy to be freed from their lazy love.

The dog refused to fear thunder and lightning.
Dora had taught the dog to count between flash and boom.
The dog calculated distance, thus threat.
She hobbled inside when the count got down to two.

Dora will teach the dog to write poetry next.
Three legged poetry will stand the test of time.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

How I Got My Editor Jack

A dog orphaned three times by its people,
gave up on suburban utopias
with twist-tied poop bags littering her daily walk.

She wandered around the midwest until she found
the Iowa cult that believed in the Dog God Palindrome Paradox.
They fed her red meat each day fresh from the butcher.

This dog was unaware the devoted Dog God followers
were fattening her up to be a sacrificial lamb
to their paradoxical belief set.

A wandering God unaffiliated with the Dog God cult,
always wanted a Jack Russel Terrier
and sent a sign warning of the impending treachery to the dog.

Most sadly, if the dog were a Poodle
this wandering God would have passed it by
and let the cult commit their divine violence.

That night the dog dug under the compound’s fence
and slipped under it toward freedom and cornfields
but no squirrels, being in a particularly treeless part of Iowa.

The dog headed west on Horace Greely’s advice,
in the blah blah blah Ginger manner of dogs.
There is no telling how she crossed all the intervening rivers.

Eventually the dog reached my Rocky Mountain valley.
By that time she was a sad-ass-bedraggled dog with no tail-wag
who was sure she did not wish to survive on road-kill anymore.

She had seen thousands of cars zoom by without stopping.
She had nearly died from eating plague bearing marmots.
She had deduced garbage dumps were mouse traps.

I did not invite her into the house.
She arrived smelling the water from the automatic-watering trough
I maintain for my neighbor’s corralled horse Houdini.

My door was open and the dog moved in without a by your leave.
She did not pay me much mind.
I ignored her thinking she would go away on her own.

The dog watched me write poetry and go about my business.
In the evening I tried out my new literary works on her.
She barked at every spelling and grammar mistake I made.

Every writer requires a good editor.
A four legged one caught me by surprise.
But who am I to argue with an editor dropped off by a wandering God.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dianne helps me edit my poems and other writings. She is the most beautiful woman in the world. If you have not guessed it, I am in love with Dianne.

The blah blah blah Ginger is taken from a Far Side comic by Gary Larson. So many internet bloggers have used or referenced it in one way or another I assume it is fair game for my poem.

To the best of my knowledge there is no Dog goD palindrome paradox cult in Iowa or any other state of the union. If there was to be a state hosting such a cult, I would think it to be New Mexico. We seem to unintentionally encourage religions and cults through our state’s easy going lifestyle.

If you are a writer, you require a good editor. If you think not, you are fooling yourself. If you find a good editor, hold on to him/her for as long as you can since good editors are hard to come by—scarce as hen’s teeth.

Scarce as hen’s teeth is an old saying. I wonder if there is a place that old sayings go to die? I once had a dictionary of all the english words that fell out of usage over the last hundred years (I had it in the early 2000s). I lent it to some one who never returned it. People who borrow books and never return or replace them (if lost) have a special place in hell to go to when once they are dead. That sentiment would hold more weight if I believed in hell. Okay, they go to Milwaukee with the curse they always have to pay for the first round of beer.

Love & Light


Great Work

I wanted Dora here with me
for the very last moment.
I thought we could sit together
and listen to Bach on the stereo—
vinyl, the London Symphony,
diamond stylus in the groove.

I thought we would
leave the doors open,
so butterflies and birds
could enter the house
at will.

The dog nudged
butterflies off of flowers
and lets them perch upon her nose.
Paw prints marked the yard
where the thin grass
gave way to dusty soil.

Dora and I shared
a pot of ginger tea and the last cakes
as the sun set on the final day.
When the fading glow
gave way to stars
that instantly recognizable
universal voice
let all creation know
Okay, everyone, everything,
that’s a wrap! Great Work.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The day I wrote this poem’s first draft (9 Jun 2019), my mind was on the end of the world. Not a scary end of the world of asteroids crashing into the earth movies, but a conclusion to Time end of the world. I pictured it like the end of a long labor, in this case God’s movie making cast of trillions, and the final scene and last lines are spoken, we learn that everything (with a few retakes) was done well.

I guess I was feeling my age that day.

On a tangent—156 years ago today about 4pm eastern time zone, outside the town of Gettysburg, General James Longstreet launched his afternoon attack that made places like the Devils Den, Little Round Top, the Slaughter Pen and the Wheat Field famous. Union forces under General Meade repulsed the attack. Thank you First Minnesota Infantry and everyone else who pitched in.

The Colors Of Courage, by Margaret S. Creighton is an interesting Gettysburg book that focuses on diverse people living in and around Gettysburg and how the coming battle affected those folks.

It is a lovely Albuquerque morning for bicycling and I must away before the sun makes the air too hot.

Love & Light