Mother and Dog

In all the years since my mother’s death
she has not once visited me in ghostly form.

I take this as a sign she is at peace
and the hereafter is more like a craft project than a poem.

I know I was not easy to raise.
My rascally brain did not appreciate syntax or logic.

She was like a window shade kept down
to keep a house plant from the sun.

I grew anyway—tall, thin and awkward.
It took befriending a dog for me to fill out in mind and body.

Time treated mother and me the same in spite of our differences.
Our similarities. Our love of mac & cheese.

When I picture her in my mind
I hold her hand when we cross the street.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Entrepreneur

Lori developed a mixed-grain alcohol
she labeled Devil’s Surrogate.

A small snake lay dead in the bottom
of each amber glass bottle.

No one was expected to swallow the snake.

Municipalities brought back Sunday blue laws
even though each label was printed with bible verses.

Those who drank more than three fingers
fell into a fevered state of proselytizing

the redemption of feral dogs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Beggared Promise

I sat in the middle of my marriage.
She orbited me touching compass points.

Our house was large enough
for us to not see each other all the time.

The dogs liked the middle where I sat
when thunder rolled through the valley.

Otherwise the dogs were near her
especially when she worked the garden.

We practiced tender temperaments
like some people practice yoga.

We liked best
when there was nothing between us.

But I know you know
such states do not last forever.

The map of our marriage
marked where there may be dragons.

That is what happens when the map
is the flat page of our daughter’s death certificate.

The tenderness we practiced served us well
negotiating divorce.

That was a long time ago.
A shimmering halo of released doves.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dogwood We Joked

After Paul’s dog
was put down
when her kidneys failed
he dug a hole
and filled it with
the canine body
and on top
he placed a sapling.
This grave event
required a starry
darkness to open
a small door
in Paul’s brain
for technicolor memories
to turn sepia
through acceptance
and letting go
of grief.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

No Chip

This cottonwood tree
by the bosque hiking trail
is where some unknown person
tied up and left a dog.

The dog was a bit thin
so one may surmise
the person suffered financially
during the pandemic.

Though many people
are poor businessmen
and fail due to a lack
of understanding markets.

The person was kind enough
to leave a bright pink bowl
filled with water
for the dog.

Without a sign or obvious note
I was reluctant to believe
the dog was displayed for the taking
like a file cabinet at the curb.

I started to walk away
then spotted three coyotes
off to my left in the cottonwoods
headed in the dog’s direction.

Once I untied the dog
she picked up her pink bowl
in her mouth
unwilling to leave it behind.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Far Away Right Here

Lori blurs and fades.
Such are January visions.
Such is the fire
burning pine and aspen.

The fire that once
burned in us
for each other
is long ago ash.

It is an evening
of remembering
faraway people
to send them blessings.

Prayers if you prefer.
And touching
the dreams
that never trued.

The dog
with her head in my lap
feels the gentle stroke
of my hand.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Unnecessary

Dog chasing cat movies
went viral.

The cats sprinted up trees
to escape.

This was repeated
by differing species all over the world.

In thousands of postings
with billions of views.

A thousand million people
worry about the cat.

How the cat will get out of the tree.
Thus home.

No smart-phone documentarian
has yet filmed

a dead cat in a tree.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Back Home on a Shelf

Paul sat writing haiku
wreathed in mist
among the cedars.

His haiku
were little poems
avoiding convention.

His dog Whisper
snuffled about
interested in a stray wine glass.

Paul decided
the fluted glass
was meant for champagne.

He imagined
forest mice getting drunk
on its contents.

Tipsy mice
vanish quickly
in owl talons.

Whisper licked
pine needles coated
with flattened bubbles.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Inspiration

It use to be I got inspired to write poems
while walking four to ten miles on the mountain.

If my dogs accompanied me, I got less inspiration
because I minded them instead of inspiration.

It was not that my dogs were not inspiring
but I was sick of writing dog poem variations.

I did find positive feedback from poetry readings
brought out the desire in me to write more popular poems.

But then I wrote poems from that part of my head
that wanted to write positive feedback poems

and it pandered to the likes and dislikes of the audience
instead of writing from the heart.

My heart was happy I walked four
to ten miles on the mountain each day

since that kept my heart in good shape
and it beat without obstruction.

My beating heart did not care if I wrote poems or not.
I liked it when the dogs came along because my heart beat lighter.

During my walks on the mountain
I paid less attention to the mountain

than to my recent human interactions
especially if they involved love or the lust form of love.

The mountain and the mountain forests
did not feel ignored by my inattention to them.

Occasionally I was so lost in replay of an interaction
I tripped and fell due to inattention to the mountain.

My falls did not bang poems out of my head.
Though they banged a poem or two into my scraped hands for typing.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Underlying All Molecules

The revisionists got hold of the bible
and started a rewrite with Genesis.
They extended it to include evidence
of evolution and carbon-fourteen dating.

They dumped the begat chapter.

They created one hundred and seventy-two
synchronistic Abrahams
one each in the different cultures of the world
founding a religion as best each Abraham understood.

God did not order anyone to sacrifice a child.

The revisionists used two different fonts.
One for metaphorical verses.
One for literal verses.
They did not consider colored ink due to expense.

They did not include Jesus.

The revisionists made God
able to communicate with everyone at a heartfelt level
so that a savior was unnecessary.
Race and nationality never became an issue.

They gave women equal footing with men.

They gave people dogs instead of dogma.
Ritual remained important.
But not so important that ritual was static
and unbending.

There were no lists of death sentences.

The revisionists made clear that the apocalypse
was not an act of war or divine reckoning
but a revealing of the truth that exposed all closets
so people could be themselves—unafraid.

copyright © Kenneth P. Gurney