Down Payment

Paul held the cool soil in his bare hand.
He saw some small wood dust in the mix—
last year’s labor with a saw and four-by-fours.

The nearby fence post stands out—
not weathered nearly as much as those adjacent
and two inches taller.

The wire keeps the goats in
but not the coyotes out
or the rabbits from the garden.

Paul wakes from a dream in piñon shade.
The endless blue stretches to the horizon.
No fence separates his land from the wilderness.

Not enough wood present for miles
to build a coyote fence
in the manner of previous centuries.

A rabbit flees rabbitbrush.
A nearby scrub jay makes its harsh call.
A vapor trail slices the sky.

This forty acres off a dirt road with no number
requires another couple years
of Paul making city wages

before a house blossoms from the dirt
or a fence marks the boundary
or a single goat chews the buffalo grass.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Superficial Burn

Paul sits by the window.
A curl of chimney smoke obscures the moon.

He holds a chicken drumstick in one hand.
Grease slicks the skin around his mouth.

The bone is nearly picked clean.
He chews the last fat.

Paul sorts through last month’s good words.
He selects the humble ones.

He writes on cabin logs below the window
with charcoal still steaming from the fire.

He draws the gibbous moon
at the end of his carbon script.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Intruder

A red checkered
handkerchief
one of many cut from
a single Italian restaurant
table linen
soaks slanted rain water
that pressed into the house
under the window.

The absorbed water
wicks only halfway
across the cloth
causing the red to deepen
and the white to turn to dull gray.

The wood there
is a bit warped
and paint cracked
and bubbled
from previous storms
that sped
across the valley
to tremble
our home’s bones.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

House And Home

My body battered by my mind
trembles in place.

My blood hollows itself
blueing under oxygen debt.

Knights joust upon my tongue.
A soggy pink field torn to pieces by mad charges.

Love is a word I do not speak to myself.
It is an abstract others speak of solidly.

It has something to do with the difference
of the words House and Home.

My body houses what God’s mouth
breathed into me.

But this flesh does not feel like home
for all my consumed communion wafers.

In this state I tell myself
this night I feel the holy dark about me

and the floor’s broken glass is fear
not a bottle dropped

after liquid numbness fails
to add color back to old photos.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Home

You lie on the sun warmed floor.
A concrete slab.

Your diaphragm rises and falls
with each full breath

and lifts the kitten
curled upon your belly.

You drift upward on the thermals
as your body rests.

The thermals circulate
through the entire house.

Your spirit enters my studio window
and rearranges charcoal

already set to the toothy paper
at the easel.

You give the page magpies
stroked by sunlit fingers.

You give tremors to my spine
when you open me up.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Where You Are

We seek each other out.
We are not hard to find.
You in your studio.
Me in my poetarium.

We speak something akin to religion.
We speak something to raise our spirits.
Our incantation of togetherness.
I love you.

The words paper the walls
of every room in the house.
They dot the backyard
like birds pecking the seed we spread.

I did not give up
on the search for home,
but accepted I found it
where you are.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney