Half Asleep from a Late Afternoon Nap

A long gray strand of God’s hair
snakes across the dining room table
out of the chicken casserole.

A portrait of Sequoia sits on the fireplace mantel
with his alphabet inscribed as a paper frame
within the wooden frame.

A bee that inadvertently flew into the house
now bangs all his buzz
on the picture window viewing the terraced garden.

The gray strand of hair is twenty-two feet long
that is why I ascribe it to God
and not grandfather or grandmother.

My Apple computer products
contain the Cherokee font package
as I begin to learn Sequoia’s native language.

I open the door then use my hand against the window
to guide the bee to freedom and home
only to let four flies in.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Catch

I look up
to the glittering
close woven
white net
of the heavens
and feel it cast
by an unseen hand
to haul in souls.

And I wonder
if it is really
many nets
held by many hands
like the fishermen
I have seen
a little off shore—
the steady ocean
brushing
their knees.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not the Season of Flowers

On this one sabbath
Paul and Lori wore white cotton shirts.

Their hands struck red match tips to striker strips
and lit twenty-seven votive candles.

They placed names on the spiraling smoke
as if the smoke carried away a tragic weight.

They did so for all the people they knew
whose ignorance betrayed them to misfortune.

They did not add uttered prayers
with their common imperfect vocabulary.

Or juggle their different interpretations of God
and what lies beyond life.

They provided the connection they desired
by holding each other’s hand.

This sharing of an unpracticed ritual
opened the path for pent-up tears.

On this one sabbath
Paul and Lori wore white cotton shirts.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Awakened By Weeping Icicles

Awakened by weeping icicles
Lori felt the unevenness
of her holy body.

She read cover to cover
the Bible, Torah and Quran
in search of her name

but found it untouched
by their many verses
and living parables.

She chose not to see
this absence
as a barricade.

Unblocked by script and tradition
she examined
her every longing.

Especially rhythms
edible or audible
or snowy when the pipes froze.

Kiss me.
She thought of god
bending down from heaven

to place lips
to her forehead
to sooth unnamed sadness.

Kiss me.
She thought of the man
down the street

with good manners
who harvested winds for melodies
pushed through his clarinet.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Digestion

The mad god
consumes us
one by one
day after day
and swallows
to places us
at the center
of the center
of creation.

In the mad god’s belly
resides a black hole
not strong enough
to collapse
the mad god’s
galactic bones
and star dust sinew.
The black hole grows
collapsed particle
by collapsed particle—
which is all I am
under pressure.
Not quite the size
of a single
ink jet droplet
thirty-three microns wide
on a pristine
white page
and just as flat.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Underlying All Molecules

The revisionists got hold of the bible
and started a rewrite with Genesis.
They extended it to include evidence
of evolution and carbon-fourteen dating.

They dumped the begat chapter.

They created one hundred and seventy-two
synchronistic Abrahams
one each in the different cultures of the world
founding a religion as best each Abraham understood.

God did not order anyone to sacrifice a child.

The revisionists used two different fonts.
One for metaphorical verses.
One for literal verses.
They did not consider colored ink due to expense.

They did not include Jesus.

The revisionists made God
able to communicate with everyone at a heartfelt level
so that a savior was unnecessary.
Race and nationality never became an issue.

They gave women equal footing with men.

They gave people dogs instead of dogma.
Ritual remained important.
But not so important that ritual was static
and unbending.

There were no lists of death sentences.

The revisionists made clear that the apocalypse
was not an act of war or divine reckoning
but a revealing of the truth that exposed all closets
so people could be themselves—unafraid.

copyright © Kenneth P. Gurney

No Thunder No Lightning

Paul asked God to come down
and dangle feet off the end of the pier into the lake—
for them to have a talk about important things.

Paul pushed a tune out of a penny whistle while waiting.
He watched his mirroring image in the lake surface.
How it wobbled through his recent ups and downs.

God arrived as a gentle rain
that settled in the mountain valley
and speckled all the land and water in sight.

Paul spoke his most intimate conversation
with face lifted into the rain.
Drops occasionally interrupted a word

as they hit his mouth deep in his throat.
Or it could be that he choked up
with tears hidden by the falling water.

During this time Paul found his tongue
was made of cedar and magpie feathers
and his skin felt like it unraveled to expose his inner self.

The rain ended as sudden as it began.
Paul felt God rise back to the god place
as the sunshine returned.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Faculties

Paul screams.
He is not hurt.
This is not an emergency.
He tests the soundscape.

Much of the soundscape
is beyond human capacity to hear.
Just like more of the scent-scape
is available for dogs.

Every animal goes quiet
as Paul’s scream
echos off the mountainside
and pinballs through the tall pines.

The wind ignores him.
The lake threatens
to drag him under and drown him
if he does it again.

Paul does not understand the danger.
The lake’s voice is beyond his hearing.
Just like the voices of the dead
are beyond his hearing.

In the wake of his scream
Paul remains quiet
until and beyond
the animal sounds returning.

He checks his compass.
North moved a fraction of a degree southeast.
But not enough for Paul’s eye or compass
to register the change.

He wonders why God created humans
so large amounts of data is unavailable to them.
God replies Use it or Lose it.
But the sentence is beyond Paul’s hearing.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Peanuts & Cracker Jack

Paul caught a fly ball.
He caught it by a mountain stream.
He assumed is was a foul ball.

He looked around
but no baseball field was in sight.
No ball court or other athletic facility was in sight either.

Paul pocketed the ball
since there were no visible ballplayers
to throw the ball back to.

For a moment he thought
he might be a character in a Kinsella baseball story
but this was New Mexico not Iowa.

He thought God might being playing catch with him.
Or the disembodied voice from Field of Dreams.
To have a catch, he corrected himself.

Paul took the ball out of his pocket
and tossed it as high as he could.
The ball did not reach the low clouds.

It did return to earth a few feet away.
Paul stumbled on a rock
trying to catch it again.

He fell and bumped his head on a different rock
which refused to take responsibility
for Paul’s hearing Take Me Out To The Ball Game.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

I am not Religious

My idea of God
does not fit in a church.

I visited great European cathedrals
to view the artwork in the windows
statuary and architecture

not the reliquaries
and saintly crypts.

Churches do fit
within my idea of God.

Though not as well as forests
or mountain meadows.

I once started a count
of the everyday saints I met
as I traveled these United States.

Six full legal pads
and a box of pencils
sharpened to nubs
and I was only one week
into the adventure.

My idea of God
fills the void between protons
neutrons and electrons.
The galactic distances between molecules.

Something in the weak and strong forces.

Something that remains
gracefully and elegantly
out of my grasp.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney