No Off Switch

The problem arises when I love
more than one
and I must determine
how to allocate time and attention.

It is not like there are two moons
that split expectation
or create gravitational distortions
evident in tides.

Sometimes I just need to make a choice
and live with one happiness
instead of risking greed
and ending up with no one.

I have not sorted and catalogued my sins
nor found a way to eject them
from this blue planet
into orbit or deeper space.

I return to the currency of kindness
especially as it resides in my voice.
It does not require an orbital satellite
or lunar event to relay messages.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lori Says Stop

Her lips remain pressed together
as the final p sound evolves into an um.

She opens the car door
and exits onto the boulevard parkway.

Lori picks up an empty blue hospital gown
and searches around for a wrist band.

Curled naked between two rows of bushes
a girl gulps air like a fish out of water.

Eyes electric with fear dart like static.
Stop the girl repeats in triads.

Lori kisses two fingers of her right hand—
touches them to the girl’s forehead.

Her coat comes off and blankets the girl
collects dirt, mud and thorns.

Once inside the vehicle and settled
(as the driver) I require direction.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Walking down the wrong street
bullets called out your name
but none of them knew how to pronounce
the umlaut over the A
so their lead missed your body
but hit many other things
that shattered upon impact
or shattered the bullet upon its impact.

You were not oblivious
but more concerned about the stranger
who screamed out for a hug
while two dozen tiny moons circled their head
as a reckoning of how many lunar mouths passed
since they were last touched.

Believing they witnessed a miracle
the shooters scattered
not wishing to be in the proximity
of something so holy that God’s breath
saturated the neighborhood’s air
like the little puff from a kiss just let go.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

World Full Of Omens

On a whim sprung out of nowhere
I begin to worship the crucified.
Not just the Christ, but anyone
who has suffered great torment.

Maybe it is not worship, but
a feeling of kinship
in the search for honor codes
that people strive to live by.

I guess I should include the monk
of that famous self-immolation video
from June of sixty-three
whose sacrifice was not honored.

Maybe it is to appreciate directly
through simple acknowledgement
all the acts of kindness I observe
each day

and how no one asked permission
or weighed whether it was a selfless act
or a calculated one on the learning curve
to prepare the soul for crossing over.

This trying to find words for a feeling
drives me a bit crazy—
like trying to ignore the monsters
emerging from my personal history.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Time Out

The church sanctuary
was overcrowded
by a few people over-thinking
every word of the prophets
and seers.

Their thoughts kept
bumping into the minister’s ego
as he stood before the alter
and pontificated,
though this branch
did not acknowledge the pontiff.

This jumble of miscommunication
caused mass forgetfulness
of priorities and well wishes—
tongue tied, it was
unable to shout One if by land!
Two if by sea!

See, all our signals got crossed up.
Our war to become our better angels
took a time out and napped.
We woke, like little children,
with an emotional reset
to the default of kindness.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Two Inch Hailstones

I heard talk
that Apple’s ear buds
are set to burst
with enough force
to cause
or decapitation.

This will take place
when earthly violence
overmatches kindness
and some cloud algorithm
initiates Rapture
regardless of diverse faiths.

No matter
if this is truth
or internet rumor
the weather
will continue
to mystify
the forecasters
espousing national
and international

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Hey! The Umflop blog site passed the milestone of 10,000 visits yesterday. Thank yous go out to poetry fans, poetry dabblers, keyword searchers and the misdirected for stopping by and visiting.

Salted Dry Roasted Almonds

It took me several hours
to find the ribbon and bow
around the insult
you presented me
the moment I learned
to stand up for myself.

It is an odd phrase
I weaponized kindness
but my thank you
caught you
like a sucker punch
to the face.

Your startled silence
was not the worst thing
to ever happen to you,
but something
from your personal history
filled your mouth
with lemons.

I knew that screw-pucker
sensation from disarming
my own petty angers
and I prescribed salted
dry roasted almonds
to remedy the tartness
of your tongue.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


A maple leaf fell in wind swept swirls,
then touched the concrete sidewalk
and trembled the world.

Paul picked up the wind-pushed leaf
after it scraped a groove in the sidewalk
and examined variations of umber.

The leaf weighed too much for a leaf.
The leaf weighed too much for a metaphor for guilt.
The leaf weighed about the same as liberty.

Paul saw his younger brother
in this leaf let go by the tree.

He saw the fallen of the Afghanistan war
in all the many leaves at his feet.

Sadness swept Paul like the wind swept his coat and face.
Sadness swept dust and ash into the bullet hole that killed his brother.

Paul decided his brother did not die,
but positive thinking had no power this time around.

He decided to be against death.
Swept from its tree by a chill wind another leaf fell.

When the leaf touched the dried grass,
a concussive explosion reverberated.

Paul knew within his six-degrees-of-separation-world
another person died somewhere.

Paul stopped for a moment to think about this.
He realized death could not be fought with any hope of victory.
He decided to fight despair instead.

After three more leaves fell and shook the earth, Paul realized
kindness was the only tool available for the fight against despair.
He decided to invest his life, his life savings, in kindness.

He decided to spread kindness to everyone he knew.
Paul cultivated an infectious smile
and became the Typhoid Mary of kindness.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I find practicing the simple kindnesses very effective at creating what I label a good day. Actions like saying please and thank you, listening when other speak, doing what I say I will do, maintenance (dishes, laundry, etc.), saying “I love you” to the people I love, keeping in mind we are all human with human limitations and so on. Small actions that inform others I value them.

Not overburdening myself with a taxing agenda is helpful. It allows for serendipity, which I find delightful. Keeping the childhood notions of delight and wonder in mind, during the day can change the ordinary into extraordinary.

Love & Light