New Old West

Several floors below heaven
a passing train startles Paul awake.

His cotton mouth misspeaks
the planet’s name to a oompah band’s brass.

This unintentional misdirection
opens a seam in the universe to another

where twenty-seven children
wear cardigans and sob at the direction

of an orchestra conductor
lifting a photogenic baton.

Paul wets his face at a hands-free faucet
while portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte

and Thomas Jefferson eye each other
from adjacent sides of the mirror.

Paul notices his doll-skin pallor.
He thinks this a clue to contact his therapist.

But is afraid to interrupt happy hour
half way around the globe.

As he towels water off his face
a gunmetal quote appears on the mirror’s surface

as a cloud wishing thunder
not Smith & Wesson shots fired in a hold up

of the morning train’s mail car
as it clickity-clacks out of Dodge City, Kansas.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Hitchhiker Fidgets Not Allowed To Smoke

Kansas is a long flat drive,
but not as flat as Nebraska.

It is torture in a borrowed car
with a broken radio and no AC.

But it gives me the chance
to sing all the Peter Paul & Mary songs

I remember from those folky days
when I ignored the Beatles.

A study on billboard art
proved an interesting research paper

and so did the different ways
hitchhikers hold their thumbs.

You can imagine
how the engine strains

doing ninety on the interstate
elevating to the Rockies

or enjoying the gravity-payback
and extra miles per gallon

descending toward the Mississippi
and Saint Louis.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney