Paul does not look to where he came from.
It has disappeared into the past.
The past is but a memory.
And memories change with each visitation.

He watches the news at night
only to have his brain cavity fill with blood
and the lines of victims queued
to tell their survivor stories.

Paul sees pupils sitting in a classroom.
They are present to improve their English—
to initiate the English language on their tongues
and struggle with unfamiliar syllables.

All those many old languages fall into the past
except at home with old country parents
who refuse to change though they initiated the change
approaching the promise of a flag and voice in government.

Paul sees on their skin the violence of the old country.
Scars that report blood once spilled into familial eyes.
Hands that must unlearn a culture departed.
Customs that change slightly with each visitation.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


The lady of the lake
sits on a shore-side rock
and looks down
into the placid waters
to see her image.

Behind her image
the sky contains white clouds
that billow into sails
and she believes great undertakings
are about to start.

She decides it is time to take a partner.

Even though the white clouds
portend migration
migration often leads to war
when cultural differences collide
and scarcity replaces plenty.

She decides the partner must be a migrant
so she may lead by example.
Add new blood into the old.
Add new thought into the old.
Add new practices over preaching.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

I Tell Myself

I did nothing wrong!

The shooting was self defense.
The shotgun shells spread a star spangled pattern
across the man’s chest and heart,
but did not nick his Saint Christopher medal
on its tight leather thong about his neck.

I did nothing wrong.

The shooting was a selfish act
of stereotypes and unchecked fears
to enforce a crossed-line
as defined by the jimmied, side door threshold
that leads into the kitchen with its dirty dishes.

I did nothing wrong.

If we spoke the same language
our shouting may have negotiated
a way out of this adrenaline fueled,
sleepy-eyed violence.
The investigators may answer
if this stain on my soul
was from his insatiable demand for opiates
or an immigrant hungry to fill his family’s bellies.

I did nothing wrong!

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


This poem was written a month before the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

Too many people speak of violence as an answer. Violence is not an answer. It is simply violence. Fear gets too strong a hold on some folks.

This Way And That

I remember the tent.
I remember the coyote footprints.
I remember the blue-gray juniper berries on bushes
and the pine scent bruised needles release to the air.
I remember cleaning up the trash littering the arroyo
and how it took three trips to cart it out
on the winding trail my mountain bike navigated.
I remember the size ten black tennis shoe
and wondered for a few moments
what kind of hurry causes you to leave behind a shoe.
I remember there were no signs
of border patrol jeeps or trucks or jackboots
and the birds flitted about as they do
when nothing dangerous is in the area.
I remember the hum that turned into a buzz
how the sound cocked my ear northward,
and the sight of a military style drone
high above the buffalo grass and rabbit brush,
its camera turning this way and that.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney