Suddenly

Bethany awoke
naked and confused
as a morning shower
dotted her skin
in a breezeless field
of lavender rows.

She sat up
and spotted
her dropped cloths
leading back
to the two-lane
highway—
the only way
in or out
of the peninsula.

She remembered
walking away
from a rumor-filled
harbor town
where pedestrian eyes
drilled holes in her spine
and the neighbor
who poisoned her dog.

A golden retriever
bounded
down the heavily
scented rows
to investigate her,
bowled her over
back onto the dirt
and planted
dog kisses
upon her
tight-lipped face.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Trick Of Light

Tonight,
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
Oroborus.

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

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sayings

Angel, you live in the holy light
and we live in your shadows.

Please dance so your movement
lets a little light through

and I can see when the light glints
off my daughter’s sparkly halo.

I scrub the kitchen floor
and this corner is too dark for me to tell

if I got it Clean as a whistle
so I may prove I have done nothing immoral.

Angel, thank you for folding your wings
and getting down on your hands and knees

to help me buff this linoleum beautiful
as in Cleanliness is next to godliness.

But Angel, you spread that darkness
over my shiny linoleum floor—

the shadowy shape my dog casts
carrying a dead squirrel to her dish.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Times A Week

Blonde-One stops
at path-side stones
to sniff the local news.
She takes her time.

Her vinegar attitude
toward strangers
keeps them at a respectful distance.
We meet only two.

She stops to chew
a thorn out of her paw
instead of limping
to keep pace with me.

Blonde-One accompanies me
on the dry trail above Taos:
south of the Reservation,
north of the road to Angel Fire.

The trail covers a six mile loop.
In spite of the fact she has aged
she makes the round trip
because it is What we do.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Today marks the first day of year three in my goal to post one poem per day for three full years. So two years are completed. For those of you who have followed me on this journey, thank you.

Yes. Blonde-One was the name of one of my dogs. She was a rescue that was matched up with the black furred dog I already had. His name was Shadow, more because he shadowed my movements as a puppy than his black fur. I planned to keep Blonde-One nameless for a week to ten days to get an idea of her personality, but she quickly understood the descriptor I used when we met other people meant her. So Blonde-One stuck because she answered to it.

There Now

Twenty-seven years gone
but my dog is young again
riding shotgun in the car
with her nose pressed
to the crack in the window.

Speed generated wind
brings her a thousand stories
as the great plains
rise gently toward the Rockies
and the forest trails we once walked.

For old times sake
I pull off the highway
for a quarter pounder
and buy her a cheeseburger
that she’ll consume in one bite.

Eventually I park the car
at a trailhead on the Spanish Peaks.
Even her golden ghost refuses
to jump out the open door and walk
the trail up to where the thunder gods hangout.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Garden Spots

I’ve wandered this desert so long,
the shitty little towns
appear inviting.

Each one has two or three saloons
per gas station
and stray dogs by the dozens.

Occasionally I spot
a state patrol car outside a diner
and presume a waitress-romance

seeing as not much else
seems to be in play
to sustain a single person.

The wild horses, heads down,
approach watered yards
and anything growing green.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Interviewing

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

How We Bend

A dozen drops
dot the window.
A low yield cloud.
A dark teasing.
Mocking thunder.
Skull echo chamber.
Wine glass on the table
reverberates,
moves millimeters.

The phone rings once.
Election season.
Poling questions.
Unexpressed selections.
Seven weeks out.
Weight of lies.
Hands ready to blacken
little ovals.

My pandemic face hides loss.
A count to three.
Remorse springs
from long silences.
The dead might as well
have been disappeared
by the Administration.
Hands rough
from washing.
The grocery’s spare shelves.
My dog does not
recognize me
in my black mask.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Heralds

I failed to appreciate that this thunderstorm
formed a thousand miles ago
and traveled all this way for us.

It was an unusual storm.
It washed sin from the body,
but not dust from the sky.

The thunder rolled with laughter.
The lightning struck
like a flash of wit.

It affected only those people
who went out into the wonder
of the darkened sky.

Those who took cover
mistook the humility in the air
for public humiliation.

They hid behind brick and mortar,
unlike my dogs
who clamored to get outside.


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