Roll Over

When you roll over in bed
all things become tabulated
and cease to be guesses
or assumptions.

No Marvel superhero
has this power.
No sound effects
need be added to the scene.

You roll over in bed
once each night,
thus inventory is taken
with accounting accruals and deferrals.

This is not the same
as knowing everything.
So you are not God
with omnipotent knowledge.

When you roll over in bed
the sheets pull from my body
as if you require every square inch of white
to complete your calculations.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A mother’s love
is not guaranteed at birth.

Genetics supply
only a protective instinct.

Postpartum depression
cancels both.

This is the way of the world.
God made it so.

To find perfection in this fact
is to stand on Nirvana’s cusp.

I see you hesitate to walk
into an unpolished pearl.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Your god seems vengeful,
while mine is green and generally ignores me.

Your god has an old testament fury
and new testament love,

while mine loses its leaves each Autumn
only to grow them back in Spring.

Your god directs the four horsemen
to run errands and deliver messages,

while mine houses an assortment
of birds and animals who do their own thing.

Your god blocks the entrance into heaven
with pearly gates, Saint Peter and graded tests,

while mine will draw me into herself
and makes me part of her body

whether I am planted into the earth,
drop dead upon the ground or enter the sky as smoke.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


We were in the embrace of God.
We shook it off.

We went wild and chased horses.
We chased after the sun to where it meets the earth.

The God who embraced us
spoke a different language from our own.

We spoke with tree spirits.
We sat in council with forty animals.

The pious God in flowing white clothes
tried time and again to reshape us with his rules.

We broke all his rules.
We did not understand him.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


This was the third poem I wrote in 2019 with the title “Abstract.” I reuse titles if the title fits to my way of thinking. I cannot imagine placing a limitation on myself that I may use a title only once in all my years.

I was thinking about when one culture conquers another culture and then forces its religion on the conquered people. (In this case, Euro Americans over Native Americans.) Conquerors tend to believe their god had much to do with their winning, so that god must be a better god. Or there is the belief our way to heaven is the only way to heaven because it works for us.

I have read that when people are first convert, they only half convert. It is the next generation that is raised with a new religion and no other religious teachings that makes the full conversion.

Religion is a difficult subject, especially in these days when extremists co-opt religions to justify terrible violence or a religion has become the dead door nail of ritual that has lost the spirit of the event that caused us to commemorate it in the first place.

Here is an idea. Each new generation should form new religions to commemorate the triumph over hardships that they went through. My parents would have a religion that included surviving the 1918 Spanish Influenza which killed 10% of the world’s population and World War II. Japanese Americans would have a religion that celebrated keeping their faith in the America Dream through the internment camps of WWII. African Americans would have a religion that celebrates keeping the golden rule at heart through slavery and Jim Crow and Black Lives Matter issues of today. I see I want a religion where I feel the spirit of triumph over adversity. So for me, not falling to despair after the death of my daughter or all the friends I have lost to AIDs and cancer and so on. I want to speak from the heart. Loudly. On a soapbox.

So I am a poet.

Love & Light.



God came for me.
This was her third try.
How charming.

No I am not a forest prince.
I am not a body broken
at the side of the road.

Let me heal you, she said.
A fire will reforge your spine
with hammer blows upon a turquoise anvil.

The apocalypse
is not the salting of Sodom and Gomorrah,
but a revealing.

And she kissed me.
With passion she drew into herself
all of my experiences.

You are a mass grave, she said.
You are a cocked-headed magpie mid-solution.
You are a son of the world tree.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


What if it is all God?

The devil was an invention
to explain unpleasant realities.

I just feel it.
Heart. Bones. Breath.

Shear vanity to think
we are more important
to the grand scheme
than cut worms,
and a broad array of spiders.

There are micro-organisms
with gigantic plans
rooting for the sixth great mass extinction
to clear the way
for their glory.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


My love for you
was so plentiful.
Now that you are dead
there is a massive
excess inventory.

I did not think
my excess love
would rot or turn to dust.
Still an inventory
liquidation sale
seemed inappropriate.

I considered
handing all that love
over to God
to disperse
to heaven’s inhabitants,
especially you,
but reconsidered
since it is mortal love
and should be
shared liberally
with the loveless
who are earthbound.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Redemption Story

Forlorn in the feeling his god forsook him,
Paul sprints through four beers,
then muddles through five more.

He keeps his eye on the bathroom door
as if his god will return from taking a piss
and sidle up next to him, suggest a game of foosball.

Paul looks through the window to old glory across the street.
At this hour, in a rain storm, the flag looks much bedraggled.
So much so, god’s will seems to have abandoned it.

He exits. He sits on the street curb between parked cars.
The gutter water washes a drugstore bag to his feet.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap.

Paul strips. He starts washing with gutter water.
The rainwater rinses his body. He raises his head,
mouth open for the rainwater to rinse his mouth.

The energy to replace his clothes on his body is absent.
He sits on the curb between two parked cars.

A commotion in the bar’s alley jumps him.
He stands and sparks to the brick building corner
and peers down the sodden alley.

Three men attack a woman and rip her clothes.
Her teeth gleam in the narrow light.
The street lamp bends around the corner into the alley.

Stark naked, Paul stands in the alley.
He jumps up and down screaming, splashing a puddle.
He makes ape sounds. He makes elephant sounds.

In his loudest voice, he trumpets I Sing the Body Electric.
A flash blinds everyone in the alley.
An instantaneous boom deafens everyone in the alley.

Some bricks fall from the top of the building.
Paul feels his god has his back.
He picks up a fallen brick and advances on the three men.

The stunned men exit stage right,
leave the woman behind scared, but unharmed,
though soaked through to the gooseflesh skin.

Paul returns to his clothes at the curb, retrieves them.
The rain splashes his naked walk home. The woman
authors a cursive signature on his back with her eyes.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I want to be myself.
I am too practiced at being someone other.
I am blessed with peripheral awareness
and becoming what others need in the moment.
I lie to myself with such sentiments.
I am blessed with fear, the vulnerable memory
of being verbally beaten out of myself too much when young.
I had grievously grieving parents to please for survival.
Such is a child’s perception of devouring sorrow.
I hope, one day, I may see myself in the mirror
not as a villain, but a hero in search of a story.
I lie to myself with dreams of dreaming such hero stories.
I borrow heroes from my favorite novels
and dress myself with their persona for a day or two.
None of those heroes slay the people who raped me
in the gravel alley outside my grade school.
Heroes do not slay past memories.
Heroes are not written to allay these painful memories.
The gravel tells me, Do not to throw stones.
The gravel does not wish to be the instrument of my vengeance.
I still hear the gravel’s voice, especially inside my glass house.
I set my unrequited vengeance upon the gravel a year later.
Our Lord God Trinity can pick my vengeance up if they so choose.
I have not viewed God as a man since the day I was raped.
I believe my female God Trinity will love me into myself.
She tells me I must take my sad life and mold it into a better one.
She tells me happiness is selfish, joy is communal.
I shudder several times not knowing what to do with this gospel.
I am the sum of my choices and memories.
I am too many irrational numbers.
I am the tool of smooth, flat, oval stones
that wish to visit the bottom of a placid lake
after several hops and skips across the water’s surface.

Copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dianne and I debated whether to include this poem in the umflop blog or not. I think the quality of the poem is good, but the subject matter is very personal. We tried to measure the balance of revealing too much of myself compared to the artist’s task to speak for the community. To speak for those who have no voice.

Since you read the poem on this blog, you know what our final decision.

Over the years, I have learned that gaining acceptance of the past is better for me than gaining understanding. I will never understand why violence was committed against me, but I can accept that it was and lay that memory down into the past instead of carrying it around with me adversely affecting the present.

How I Got My Editor Jack

A dog orphaned three times by its people,
gave up on suburban utopias
with twist-tied poop bags littering her daily walk.

She wandered around the midwest until she found
the Iowa cult that believed in the Dog God Palindrome Paradox.
They fed her red meat each day fresh from the butcher.

This dog was unaware the devoted Dog God followers
were fattening her up to be a sacrificial lamb
to their paradoxical belief set.

A wandering God unaffiliated with the Dog God cult,
always wanted a Jack Russel Terrier
and sent a sign warning of the impending treachery to the dog.

Most sadly, if the dog were a Poodle
this wandering God would have passed it by
and let the cult commit their divine violence.

That night the dog dug under the compound’s fence
and slipped under it toward freedom and cornfields
but no squirrels, being in a particularly treeless part of Iowa.

The dog headed west on Horace Greely’s advice,
in the blah blah blah Ginger manner of dogs.
There is no telling how she crossed all the intervening rivers.

Eventually the dog reached my Rocky Mountain valley.
By that time she was a sad-ass-bedraggled dog with no tail-wag
who was sure she did not wish to survive on road-kill anymore.

She had seen thousands of cars zoom by without stopping.
She had nearly died from eating plague bearing marmots.
She had deduced garbage dumps were mouse traps.

I did not invite her into the house.
She arrived smelling the water from the automatic-watering trough
I maintain for my neighbor’s corralled horse Houdini.

My door was open and the dog moved in without a by your leave.
She did not pay me much mind.
I ignored her thinking she would go away on her own.

The dog watched me write poetry and go about my business.
In the evening I tried out my new literary works on her.
She barked at every spelling and grammar mistake I made.

Every writer requires a good editor.
A four legged one caught me by surprise.
But who am I to argue with an editor dropped off by a wandering God.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dianne helps me edit my poems and other writings. She is the most beautiful woman in the world. If you have not guessed it, I am in love with Dianne.

The blah blah blah Ginger is taken from a Far Side comic by Gary Larson. So many internet bloggers have used or referenced it in one way or another I assume it is fair game for my poem.

To the best of my knowledge there is no Dog goD palindrome paradox cult in Iowa or any other state of the union. If there was to be a state hosting such a cult, I would think it to be New Mexico. We seem to unintentionally encourage religions and cults through our state’s easy going lifestyle.

If you are a writer, you require a good editor. If you think not, you are fooling yourself. If you find a good editor, hold on to him/her for as long as you can since good editors are hard to come by—scarce as hen’s teeth.

Scarce as hen’s teeth is an old saying. I wonder if there is a place that old sayings go to die? I once had a dictionary of all the english words that fell out of usage over the last hundred years (I had it in the early 2000s). I lent it to some one who never returned it. People who borrow books and never return or replace them (if lost) have a special place in hell to go to when once they are dead. That sentiment would hold more weight if I believed in hell. Okay, they go to Milwaukee with the curse they always have to pay for the first round of beer.

Love & Light