Most of my life I stayed away from the family farm.
Whenever I visited the family put me to work.

This is why I, a magic marker salesman, know
how to milk a dairy cow by hand.

My family on the farm has heard of the Covid pandemic.
They think of it as the nineteen-eighteen influenza redo.

Three of the goats amble in and out of the house.
They like to lie down on the guest room floor when I nap.

Grandfather sustains a quarter acre of prairie.
It reminds him of what his grandfather plowed under.

When I visit I think of my stay as a prison sentence
for psych-patients learning calm from animals and sweat.

All the poems I write while visiting I collect into a folder.
A label on the folder says Memoir written in magic marker.

After each farm stay, I am a bit more callused on the hands.
This does not stop me from writing a thank you note.

I post the thank you note near midnight.
I do this so my friends do not see me appreciate my family.

This way I can complain about the sunflower
that stares in the window when I exit the shower naked.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Meth House Two Miles Uphill Where The Blacktop Ends

The car rests off the road with no center line.
A relatively new car splashed with mud.
Mud that is night dried to cake upon the body.

Its well pronounced tire marks
groove my pasture land.
The tread pattern still damp to the touch.

Bent weeds and flowers have not yet straightened.
The windshield displays no signs of red blood.
Or spidery cracks. Only the yellow-green of splattered bug.

Footprints lead away from the passenger door.
The driver’s door too close to a tree to open.
Two sets of footprints. One punctuated by heals.

Barbwire in the grill confirms the fence gap cause.
A few goats wander free down the shoulder.
One I spot in the Nelson’s vegetable garden.

A familiar call to the sheriff after a year at this address.
A county tow truck will be along later.
Backseat duffle bag remains undisturbed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Simple & Ruinous Hunger

In the air this morning
a fog lingered
a few feet above the ground.

Droplets congregated
on the window
over the deck.

The mountain lion
blended into the wildflowers
and fog—or mist.

I might have missed it
if not for the goat
it carried through the yard.

At the next count,
my neighbor will recognize
the vacancy in his pasture.

Unless I inform him
that the mountain lion
took his goat

and ate it behind my toolshed
where the tarp extends past
two cords of firewood.

Though I knew,
once my neighbor knew,
he would lay in wait

and some near morning
I would hear the report
of his rifle.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney