I gave you my best self.
It was a first generation copy of my best self.

The original burst into flame
in my therapist’s office.

Good thing I make a back up
every ten days, overwriting the old backup.

It was the best gift I could think to give you.
I thought it would energize our relationship.

If photos recorded how we would be
ten minutes into the future,

each photo would show us taking a new photo.
Obsessed with the future, we’d forget to live in the present.

Imagine me feeding you a strawberry
slathered with whip cream.

I would do it if that would focus us
on that instant together without tangents or drift.

We would learn to tell time to shove off,
so a romantic afternoon

trickled into an evening, a sunset—
us listening to each other like never before.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


After much debate
with myself,

I decided to shine my inner light
out into the world.

I had too few lumens
to cast the faintest shadow.

Under the sun,
I made no difference at all.

Only during storms
did I mark paths for short distances.

For you to see
my inner light’s outward shine

our encounter
must be close enough

for my listening ears
to provide a beacon.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Recently I realized all the words I spoke
that bounced off other people’s ears,
rebounded back upon my shoulders
and that weight adds pounds to my frame,
which slows me down as I walk from here to there
and threatens the collapse of my bones
if this phenomenon goes on for an appreciable time.

I started speaking to people
only through my smart phone
confident it would buffer any rebounding words.
Instead of weight, an electric current
began to tickle me and itch
and I felt compelled to look up the word tased
to learn if it was spelled with an S or a Z.

I became speechless. Intentionally.

It is odd how the weight of unheard words
falls back upon your own shoulders and remains there
even when you are asleep, prone, horizontal,
instead of falling off into the sheets
to be washed down the drain on the next laundry day.

The more this phenomenon affected me,
the more I saw how it affected others as well.
Our politicians suffer a vertical compression
equal to Wile E. Coyote under a sky-fall anvil.
Our preachers stand only two or three inches tall.
Our teachers look squeezed
like a single atom black hole formed inside them.

I decided to practice listening,
so more words went into my ears,
instead of rebounding
onto the speaker’s body.
As my practice improved my skill,
the words stacked upon my shoulders
sloughed off in direct proportion
to the words I fully heard.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you.