On the flanks
of the Sandia mountains
a thousand steps
above the popular trails
only the breeze
and bird songs
bend my ear
as my eyes
watch a mountain bicyclist
silently hop
the natural moguls
then his chain rattles
his shocks squeak
and the frame
bangs his back side
for a fleeting.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Way Far From The River

smoky amble
barely keyed snake
tongue-dart nosing
between sage branches
between flirts and pitches
re-dried noodles
charred firestones
just enough motion
to glide sound

barrelhead cactus
red bloom fires
living room escape
deer scat pebbly mounds
scree scramble
calm whiptail attention
in heated-rock sunlight

turquoise rimmed vugg
granite alleyway
secret up the valley walls
finger brushes million year old
weather stains

peace yearning musician
seated in stream bed greenway
native flute notes crabapple blossoms
toe tap on water rounded stones

call to serendipitous friends
a silvery flask tipped
no, a stainless water bottle
a twirl of bushtits
a solitary sandhill crane
way far from the river

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Walking A Local Trail

Tree limbs replace my bones.
A thing I do to feel rooted to a place.

I stand straddling a slight stream.
I am the Colossus of Rhodes.

In the hollow the wind swoops down
and steals my cap.

Smoke, miles filtered by pine needles,
is a barely recognizable sniff.

The forrest’s palpable pulse
requires shrewd awareness.

The canyon towhee’s backward hop
is most endearing.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


The interior of my limb folded inward.
I wept before I hit the ground.

My ankle, bent in an unnatural direction,
created darkness.

In the darkness my body chilled.
My ghost walked around me appraising the damage.

I woke to white sparks and nausea.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry, Ankle. Sorry.

The song of the trailhead was faint.
Ravens carried snippets to breadcrumb the way back.

My face bathed in changing shades of pain
studied and improved my one footed off-balance hop.

My teeth tightly clenched the wind between them
and tore off hunks of it to swallow whole.

I dropped pride from my bearing
to lighten the load.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


During my years living in the western mountain ranges of the USA, I have helped three people off mountains and back to their cars at the trailheads. In all three cases the people were joggers or runners who wrecked their ankles on a root or uneven ground. The longest distance to the trailhead was about three miles from where I found the person sitting on a rock resting before another session of hopping.

In each case, the runner was running alone in the wilderness. Not the best idea. Sometimes things outside of your control go wrong and you need help. In one case the person had hopped & waited over two hours before I happened along. We saw no one on the way back to the trailhead.

My ankles got wrecked playing pickup basketball games when I came down with a rebound and landed wrong on someone’s foot. This happened a couple times to each ankle. I did have a fall down a steep slope when I slipped on some leaf-covered ice and tumbled about 70 feet into a tree. It was a case of paying attention to the pretty girl I was with, instead of the trail.

The only time I have suffered an injury that caused me to blackout was on a slow ground ball hit to third in a baseball game. I sprinted to first for a bang-bang call of Out by the umpire. My foot hit the base wrong and I tore my meniscus in my right knee. I do not remember hitting the ground the pain lanced through me so hard and fierce.

Take care of yourselves in sports and other activities. As I grow older, each day those injuries received when young remind me they are there in little ways. And I have physical therapy to do every day to keep everything functioning as close to properly as possible.

Love & Light.


Full Spiral

I figure
if I am lucky
I will die while hiking
some sparsely traveled
and bloat up
like those cows
I see prone
in rural areas
not too far from the road
before the turkey vultures
glide through death’s wake,
spiral and land on a leg,
sticking straight up
in the air.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney