Friends

We ate almonds and apple slices
at a picnic table.

We debated whether this public square
should be lined with fruit trees.

You suggested the drought will turn
this city into a wasteland.

We discussed the Ukraine war
as if we were military tacticians.

Your dog carried a rat it killed
and dropped it between our feet.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Spritz

I take a baseball and toss it as high as I can.
My toss fails to puncture a cloud.

My hands fail to catch the ball when it returns to earth.
The ball’s white hide is now grass-stained.

I determine to practice until a throw punctures a cloud.
I require a great deal of practice.

A crowd gathers to watch my tosses.
No one interferes and some cheer me on.

The cheers apply to good tosses.
Ones that come really close to the clouds.

The crowd enlarges and people at the outer edge
are not quite sure why they are here.

Nor can they see me toss the ball
even though they do see the ball go up and up and up.

The fringe of the crowd starts drumming and dancing
which diverts part of my crowd to become their crowd.

Other parts of the fringe play music on instruments
while others startup rope-skipping competitions.

So the crowd’s attention is now split seven ways to Sunday
but it is Tuesday and the saying fails.

On my eleventy-twenty-third toss I hit a cloud
but do not puncture it as planned.

I think the cloud took pity on my tiring arm
and lowered itself.

Though it may have wanted a closer look
at the drummers, dancers, rope-skippers, and crowd.

The cloud rains just a little. Not much.
But enough to dampen a square inch of each shirt in the crowd.

We continued until it is nearly suppertime
when everyone disperses.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Compressed Ash

The drought was plague enough.
Then the pandemic arrived.

National parks taken for granted before
overflowed with local visitors.

Our favorite hikes grew so crowded
we took to obscure trails.

Up and up and up the southeast canyon wall
over three dozen switchbacks.

The pack I wore contained a small lunch
and four water bottles.

We studied up close the mineral beauty
of dry spill-ways down scratchy tuff.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Depression

When bars
outnumber churches
and the grocery store
is closed for good
small town America
watches
the last plowshares
turn to rust
as the wind lifts
drought dry topsoil
to seed clouds.
Unlike Steinbeck’s thirties
California is aflame
and the only
available work
is stomping out
the inferno.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney