It was the Battle Cry of Freedom
that woke Paul to feel
the blue exhilaration of Appomattox.

Throughout the day
he asked all of his friends
if they heard it too.

But they were all too busy
preparing for commercial airline flights
reversing the middle passage in coach.

Paul then turned to the pink flamingos
wading in the swimming pool
filled with water too electric to be real.

He saw they were not wet
and the one bather was suspended
like a banana slice in vibrant blue jello.

For the first time since waking
Paul considered he might be dreaming
and sleep’s storm tossed ocean

tried to message him
with a reconstruction image
destined for his conscious mind.

He tried to be calm
and hear his inner voice speak
but received only Christmas carols

way too early in the season
with Halloween a few days into the future
and a wicker basket

filled with a variety of bite-sized candy bars
ready for the doorbell to ring
with little surprises.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul can’t sleep.
He sits up and the covers slump to his lap.
He grabs Peter Rabbit.
He is not too old for this comfort, though he is old.

He listens to the wind whip around the house,
to the heavy rain banging the swamp-cooler,
to the roof’s runoff trickling into the cistern,
to the house’s creaks and groans.

Paul thinks of his childhood, growing up outside Chicago.
How snow was always on the ground at Christmas.
How Halloween was safe for trick-or-treating kids.
How the movies were twenty-five cents a ticket.

He remembers the lake park and its swing sets.
How he would swing back and forth.
How he would swing up and down.
How he loved the timeless pendulum motion.

Paul falls back to sleep.
He still holds onto Peter Rabbit.
The covers remain off of his shoulders.
The swing’s rising and falling matches his breath.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney