Shelter Receives No One After Five

We stood outside
the First Church of Christ.

It was one of six by that name
in the city.

We wanted sanctuary.
Our pandemic eviction was complete.

No one was home in the church
after dark—tale end of twilight, really.

Our boys and girls
played ring around the rosary—

a game they just made up
while clicking their tongues.

One of the boys argued this building
was the house of God

and God should let us in
to stay dry from the approaching storm.

One of our girls argued
God dwells in Heaven with the angels

and Heaven is in outer space.
She could not name the nearest star.

When the rain started,
one of our girls suggested

Fairies should kidnap all the children
away from us.

The youngest boy started crying.
He suffers from night terrors

and the night closed in
all around him, claws exposed.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tipping Point

The kids twist
their angelic faces
into demonic grins,
then shriek
and run around
the old cottonwood
with the motionless swing
suspended by ropes.

The dog lopes after them.
Herds them
in accordance
with its breading,
but the kids
possess no herd instinct.

Still screaming,
the kids all fall down
as if at the command
of an unspoken
nursery rhyme.

A plastic bag
accompanies two tumbleweeds
that bump up
against the grayed fence
in need of paint
or varnish
and other work
I may get to next year.

From the porch
sitting on the glider,
the kids’ excitement and play,
though annoying and loud,
are the outcome of their world
where there is little to fear.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney