Lori Carried Antlers

Some days the sky requires piercing
and a twist to gut it so rain falls.

Other days the antlers must be donned
to lead ungulates to new grazing.

Yesterday the antlers dissuaded a rattler
from crossing an open space

where a nearby eagle
waited and spied atop a dead cottonwood.

Tomorrow Lori will poke a proselytizing devotee
of their lord Jesus in the ribs

while shaking a gourd
with her baby teeth sealed inside.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Matchbox Souvenir Collection

Jesus reached down from heaven
and placed his hand
on Lori while she slept.
He quieted her nightmare heart
with the unintended consequence
she dreamt kissing the lips
of the Christ on the Cross
in at least one local church per day
while on a great American road trip.
Her road trip started
at the ferris wheel
on Santa Monica pier
and traveled U.S. Highways
all the way to Roosevelt
Campobello International Park
near Eastport Maine
with many stops in between
for red place-of-interest boxes
sprinkled across the map.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Night Light

I wonder if Jesus
at age six
had night terrors
in the form
of visions
that foretold
his crucifixion
and just what
Mary (his mother)
did to calm him
back to sleep
if there was
she could do
since he was
to experience
to bridge life
and God’s faith.

I believe she lit
a candle
to illuminate
his dark room
in spite of
Joseph’s ire
at such

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy New Year everyone.


Do people who work with their hands
learn sign language faster
than a new spoken language?

In America people who work with their hands
are placed on lower rungs
of society’s ladder.

Jesus is the Christian Savior
and he was a carpenter—
why don’t Christians elect more carpenters to public office?

A real carpenter, not a contractor.
Or better yet a plumber
since there is so much shit to send to treatment plants.

This assumes treatment plants function properly
which no politician can make happen
since they are mostly lawyers and not good with their hands.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Off-White Parchment

Dora draws
thirteen symbols
with sacred geometry

and imagines Jesus
as a child
with a Spirograph

drawing set
doing similar works
and calling them all Stars.

Dora takes the symbols
cuts them out
in silhouettes

and holds them
up to her eyes
two at a time

so she might
see the dead
among the living

and their efforts
to rise up in pursuit
of new dreams.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cache of Four

My sleep drifts.
I wake unintentionally slanted.
I walk all day at an angle.
Lean in my chair.
My cursive handwriting improves.

Each Christian meme
reinforces the proclamation
I am not saved
and heaven rejects me
at the river’s edge
because I do not claim
Jesus as my savior.

Just south of Albuquerque
the green farm fields
contrast the desert land
above the flood plain
and though the Rio Grande
does not appear swift or deep
the current will drag
you under for the fishes
and bull frogs.

In places God seems readily apparent
and those places have nothing
to do with humans
and their destructive constructions.
I cannot claim to know fully
how Ego skyrocketed
apartments and business buildings
into right-angle canyons.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


I used to drive
the dirt and gravel
forest roads
the state highway department
created to receive
more federal highway dollars
a couple of times a week.

Some of those roads
had once been
wagon trails
based on the ghost towns
I passed through:
five or six separate buildings
in various states of decay.

Where there was room
to pull over and park
I sometimes found
boarded up holes
where men once prospected
for precious metals,
some with rusted frames
for lifts in and out.

I found a family cemetery
not far from a char-scored chimney
with three headstones
cut with dates and names
distinguishable by shadow
and touch.

I deciphered
the name Jesus
on one of the stones.
And I found,
regardless of the reality
the Spanish words conveyed,
I preferred thinking
the Christian savior
was buried right here
on this mountain.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Jesus was rummaging around
looking for a stray sock
checking all his shirts,
his sheets, the towels,
inside the legs of folded blue jeans
in the drawer.

It was important he find it.
He felt immortal only in this pair of socks.
He was not up to a three-way FaceTime
with the other two Holy Trinity members
without that particular woolen pair
covering his feet.

Jesus was pretty sure
a new time on earth was about to be ordered.
It would not be the overall second,
but the thirty-second time since the last pandemic.
Usually it was to take his place
along side the Doctors Without Borders.

He guessed which hotspot
would be his destination.
His calculations placed him
at an Indian Health Services Agency
on the Navajo Reservation
in the northwest corner of New Mexico.

Jesus found the sock
on the laundry room floor
where it must have fallen off
the basket edge where it hung to air dry
just as the instructions
on the packaging recommended.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Red White And Black

When cotton was king
a people was enslaved and declared subhuman.

When corn was king
the McCormick reaper freed a million men

to serve in the Armies of the Potomac,
Cumberland and Tennessee.

Southerners’ mental gymnastics
won all the the eighteen-sixty Olympic medals.

Hypocrisy recognized by a few
caused them to teach their slaves to read and write

for the importance to know the gospels,
to come to know Jesus and salvation.

Do not dismiss the bravery of this act.
In most southern states that was a capital offense.

Before the black man was brought to the Americas,
the red man was enslaved and worked to death.

Columbus promised Isabella and Ferdinand
boat loads of New World riches,

but found only one valuable commodity
in abundance to enrich Spain.

No one heeded the Pope
when he spoke out against this practice.

How shabby our collective Christianity.
How spartan our application of the golden rule.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Poetic license allows the Olympic medal to be awarded in 1860, when the modern Olympics did not start until 1896.

Documentation of the enslavement of Native Americans is in the book The Other Slavery, by Andrés Reséndez.

North Face

Paul cries.
His tears strike his palms like rolling thunder.
Black motes pock his life line.

The clouded sky echoes his sentiment.
Lightning crowns the mountains.
Electric thorns seeking Jesus.

Paul’s nostrils fill with ozone,
the crisp of a struck ponderosa,
the sap seared to carbon.

He gasps for air between sobs.
He claws the sky seeking purchase.
This letting go shreds him.

Four now. The disassociations.
The angels between sheets of rain.
The snow angel of his prostrate flailing.

He throws rocks and fists at his other selves.
A puncher’s chance.
A knockout blow.

Trauma drunk. He staggers to the tree line.
Dark limbs embrace warmer air.
Alders peel the thunder of its crash.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney