Outside Port Angeles

Snow falls on the ocean
and approaches the cedars on land.

The mud at the side of a stream
that enters the ocean hardens by freeze.

Deer birds big cats hide themselves
as the fall thickens, speckles my line of sight.

I brought you here
into these ancient woods

under these conditions
thinking it might change you.

Foolish me.
But not disappointed

at your requests to go home
and make hot chocolate

for a seat by the hearth
to watch the dancing flames.

The snow collects on your long hair
scarf and shoulders.

I appreciate such beauty
and your bothered brown eyes.

You call out to our dog Home!
so she would know

we turned around
even though she was out of sight

bounding though the trees after a rabbit
not letting any snow collect on her back.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Before a Walk

The thrasher’s tweedle-eet
startles me awake.

The apple tree
does not care if I acquire knowledge.

I read each incandescent leaf
of a poetry book

while eating potent cereal
without the fear of added sugars.

There are no curtains to pull aside.
Sunrise invites itself in.

Why do train conductors
not spark and shock people as they take tickets?

Such questions afflict me
in the time between stars and blue sky.

I never call my dog a bad name
because she never calls me a bad name.

When I place my bowl in the sink
my dog knows it’s time to go to the door.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Filled To Brimming

Consider the dishwasher.
How after you fill yourself with dinner
you fill it with plates, flatware and glasses.

Outside the light takes that slant
that turns the air to honey
as if a magician snapped her fingers.

Inside the dog is frustrated with you
for not sharing your food
and lies down in a huff by the sliding doors to the backyard.

As you slide into your easy chair
and take in hand a magazine
you have been meaning to read

you consider police cams
and imagine if you had to wear one
to document all of your work activities

during office hours
with the knowledge that superiors
and independents will review

your every single keystroke
and zoomed business interaction.
Big Brother? Or checks and balances?

Your partner brings you tea.
Caffeine-free mint because it’s evening.
You plunge yourself

into an article about the armor and weapons
the Greeks and Trojans used
in the various eras covered by Homer’s Iliad.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Your Side Of The Bed

I see you have a new
boa constrictor.

Your voice tells it
to stop crushing the elephant

decorated comforter
or you’ll put it out to the dog house.

Last year’s dandelion puffs
cloud your bathtub

in place of fragrant
bath bubbles.

This prevents you from
soaking too long

thus pruning your skin
into a bushel of peri-wrinkles.

Our dog started eating
the boa constrictor’s tail

just as the boa swallowed
our dog’s tail

in the imitation
of something mythic

I once heard you murmur
between your petite snores.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Rural Wind By The Border

It was more like the songs played us
after observing the dogs walking us.

A horse mulls about the pasture
trying to remember the lyrics to a torch song.

If you flag the Greyhound down
it halts and picks you up

without the nicety of a bus stop
but you better be going east or west.

A whisper stalked through
the cornfield this morning.

It gently told me something
I could not translate from its Spanish.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Everything Road

Paul once lived
at the dead end
of a dirt road
where a thicket
of juniper
and piñon
halted progress.
If you looked
you could see
the scattered dust
from the car
rolling on to
the driveway
settle on leaf
green needles.
If you were lucky
you would see
his sweetie
pin laundry
to the clothesline
stretched between
the corner
of the house
and a four by four
eight feet tall
sunk into the ground
with grey cement
not yet covered over
with dust, dirt
and buffalo grass.
It was beautiful
with two dogs
romping around
the yard
with no white
picket fence
or any fence at all.
At the west end
of their five acres
lived a great horned owl
and at the east end
a red-tailed hawk
and the two predators
managed nicely
without a war
for dominance
of the rabbit population.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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