Cache of Four

My sleep drifts.
I wake unintentionally slanted.
I walk all day at an angle.
Lean in my chair.
My cursive handwriting improves.

Each Christian meme
reinforces the proclamation
I am not saved
and heaven rejects me
at the river’s edge
because I do not claim
Jesus as my savior.

Just south of Albuquerque
the green farm fields
contrast the desert land
above the flood plain
and though the Rio Grande
does not appear swift or deep
the current will drag
you under for the fishes
and bull frogs.

In places God seems readily apparent
and those places have nothing
to do with humans
and their destructive constructions.
I cannot claim to know fully
how Ego skyrocketed
apartments and business buildings
into right-angle canyons.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sleep Tortures Paul

He dreams of his daughter
snatched from his hands
by an American eagle,
magicked away by pixies,
torn away by wolves,
held for ransom by kidnappers,
floated out the window on a dark melody
by mysterious musical notes,
swallowed whole by a snake,
lifted skyward by the thumb
and index finger of God.

He wakes shuddering.
His hands feel so empty
they might as well not exist.
Touch cannot be trusted
ever again.

He can not shake this feeling
that he was pulled
far outside himself,
futilely trying to stop
the tragedy, holding on
until the predatory
Angel of Death
pried his fingers
away from dear life.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Struck Matches On The Table

Thin kerosene lamp mantles scream,
throw mud-clod light
upon locust speckled walls
as a turntable spins out
Paint It Black
disconnected from speakers
and the needle-scratch
fishnets this Sodom house,
but never skips
surfing the time warped vinyl
and I furiously search
through my dresser drawers
for something to wear
other than the hand me down
Old Testament God.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

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