Closed With I Love You

My daughter’s voice
tumbled zeros and ones
into new configurations
on a phone company server bank.

Hearing her voice
thirty-one years after her death
droned my chest
with fluctuating neural signals.

Those skipped heartbeats
I will never get back.
My extremities blued
as I listened to her message.

The closing beep
signaled back to normal
at an unconscious level
of mental processing.

I smacked myself on the forehead
for automatically hitting delete
instead of replay
to hear her voice again.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

As Long As It’s Out of Here

Although I live in Albuquerque
I see Dickensian ghosts.
Not a single Pueblo, Apache or buffalo soldier ghost.

Many of the ghosts are Marley-esque
but draped in modern clothes.
Some wear cowboy hats atop their heads.

A significant number of the ghosts
migrated here from the antebellum south
and appear to be plantation owners.

Since they are all white, I think
Capitalism occasions ghosts
through shoddy treatment of the poor.

Not all the ghosts wear Marley’s rattling chains.
Some are wrapped in barbed wire.
Others pierced with many fly-fishing hooks.

I have wondered Why Albuquerque?
and Why not Albuquerque?
as their destination and residence.

I think I will organize a roundup
like the ghosts are cattle on open range
and then drive them—somewhere.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Slightest Vanity

He must have known
the ghost he ran into
by the peach orchard
not far from Shiloh church.

Paul opened a spectral door
at the road junction
adjacent to what is now called
the Bloody Pond.

He waved his hand
as if to usher them in
for a cup of coffee
with cream and sugar.

The three ghosts who came through
kept an ear cocked toward
the Tennessee river
and bolted about four p.m.

for Pittsburg Landing
no matter Paul’s remonstrations
that the war was more
than one hundred and fifty years over.

Paul dug his toe into the dirt
knowing any souvenir was long gone
but kept thinking about the one ghost
without a belt or suspenders

who periodically hiked up his pants
and pushed his belly out
as if that pressing action
would hold his sky blue pants in place.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ghost

When I wake
from the gleam of your shine,
you sit at the end
of my bed and pull
the covers off my torso
so my skin
raises goose flesh
and you laugh.

Somehow the dog
does not wake through this exchange
and makes small woofs
through a dream.

I see you
look as if you are ten years old
when you did not reach
that age alive.

You see me
pull my body up
into a sitting position
to view you eye to eye.

I pull a pillow over
to cover exposed skin
and watch you rise crosslegged
in some levitation trick
so your eyes
are above mine,
though I question
if it is in judgement.

It is now thirty years gone
and I have done all the atonement
I could think of for being a parent living
when you are not.

You extend you legs to touch the bed
and walk forward to where I sit,
lean and kiss me on the cheek
knowing that will untie
the last tether I use to hold on to you.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Real And Imagined

Lynn curls in the wisps of fog.
She is steam. She is ghost.
She makes snow angels in our front yard.

Lynn is always one step ahead of me
through the pines, through the alders,
across the rocky flanks of the mountain.

Do not worry about my wanderings.
Earthly geography is a simple thing.
I cannot become more lost than I am.

I seek Lynn in the light
as I top every rise,
as I round every curve.

This holding on pulls me
over the slightest mountain trails
in among the bears.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney