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

Proximity

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

Agency

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

postscript

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

Empowerment

In all the stories
I tell my daughter,
Jesus is a woman.
God is a woman.
The holy ghost
is a nurturing spirit.

In our creation myth
all life exits
an earthly womb
from a crack in the bedrock.

If my daughter was adopted
and brown, red or yellow
the Jesus and God
in our stories
would be the same color.

In our creation myth
there is no Adam,
no Adam’s rib.
Man and Woman
emerged from the earthly womb
together and equal,
requiring the help of the other
to proceed into the land of plenty.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

I believe that our myths and religions form much of how we think in our society. Because of this, I think we should create new myths and religions that present the world in a manner more to our striving. The new myths / religions do not need to be totally new. Take what is deemed good from the old (like the golden rule) and add it to the new. Since I find equality of both genders important, my myths promote that cause.

I realize we could debate what equality is under these circumstances. In my mind in equality current male mindset of hierarchies (where is my place in the totem pole and how do I rise) would dissipate. I find it more important to get the needed tasks of society accomplished.

Also, I am tired of Us and Then mentalities. There is Us, no Them. Us encompasses all people. Universal rights of man.

Oh well.

Love and light. Tree and leaf.

Kenneth

Barnstorming

Before rapture
and the second coming
with all its earthly implications,
Jesus snuck out of heaven
many times, in many incarnations,
to visit earth as a highly touted
baseball prospect,
traversing the minor leagues
and independent leagues
to fulfill his dream
of playing centerfield
for the Cubs.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Follow Your Bliss

Being the son of God,
Jesus could have been anything.
He chose to be a street corner preacher,
but in a rural sense at first.
I understand. There was a job to do
and father to please
and humanity to save
and to navigate
the Holy Ghost Trinity issue.

I appreciate his devotion.

On his second earthly
bodily appearance
I hope he does his own thing
whether it is
little league baseball,
piano lessons,
Four-H farm projects,
beach bum,
abstract expressionist,
forensic accountant,
beat cop,
beat generation historian,
urban slam poet
—whatever
emanates
from his heart.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

Happy Bastille Day. My favorite ironic note about Bastille Day is I read that the King of France, Louis XVI, made a diary entry of Not much happened today. Boy oh boy was he in for a surprise.

If you do not remember, Joseph Campbell is the guy who suggested people follow their bliss as a way of living life.

For reasons unknown, I like picturing Jesus doing the gardening, just because he likes doing it. I think we do not picture our heroes doing every day things often enough to bring them closer to us. Imagine Gandhi playing cricket. Or Mother Teresa playing the card game bridge or whist at a table with three other people. Imagine any hero you have doing laundry at the coin operated laundry because their washer at home is broken. That image brings them off the pedestal and into the neighborhood.

Love & Light

Kenneth