Flame Under an Iron Pot Heats Water

I am saddled with dreams.
Ridden like a horse.

The dreams line up
to form a misshapen narrative.

A novel written in codes
out of sequence.

Unable to sleep
due to sepia images

of John Brown at the gallows
in Charles Town Virginia

I wonder what part of my self
requires emancipation.

Or if my hand is the slaver’s
whip cracking hand

stroking the backs
on people who I claim to love.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


My heart goes out
to Lincoln
his ability
to avoid the bottle
and keep his eye
on the prize
while creating
a new prize

He issued an order
to preserve the Union
with no idea
all the amputated limbs
if laid out end to end
would stretch
from the White House
to San Francisco Bay.

Stewards tasked
with keeping
feral pigs and other
from gnawing
the arrayed limbs
are never considered
by historians.

I regularly see
Whitman’s ghost
about Washington
reading letters
and poems
soothing the wounded
as doves and pigeons
flock to their
park bench
when they pull open
a brown bag lunch.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney