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

Bazooka Joe

The chains that supported
the saddles of the swing set
listened to our conversation
for a whole hour
which corresponded
to the amount of time
we pumped and rose
in pendulum motion—
our heads never reaching
the crossbar height.

The chains took notes
like minutes of a meeting
between the President
and Secretary of War
discussing strategy
for dealing with strangers
who smelled too good
to be true
while ignoring
the bubblegum wad
I pressed between two metal links
once the flavor was gone.

Each time I return alone
after dark to those swings
they recite our last meeting verbatim.
And during this performance
I hear you hold your breath
and never use my first name
preferring to use my
martial nickname.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


I stopped meeting my friends for happy hour.
I stopped reading the news.

I ceased going to my cafe to write.
I ceased greeting people’s dogs on hiking trails.

I put an end to attending poetry readings.
I put an end to getting my palm read.

Placing book reviews on Amazon came to an end.
Knowing the future came to an end.

I swept the kitchen floor seven times today.
I washed every doorknob nine times.

I sterilized everything except for a batch of cookies.
I washed the empty beer bottles twice.

All my books are now my friends.
All my friends are yesterday’s pages in my diary.

I watched every Star Trek episode over again.
I studied an ant crawling up the shower curtain.

Hunger is disoriented and arrives at odd intervals.
Tragedy waits in the zeal of Sunday churchgoers.

My phone is painful to hold when it rings.
Uncontrollable shivers rattle my bones from time to time.

I attempt to learn the subtle meanings
of my dog’s various woofs.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney