The sleepless moon
flings itself across the sky.

Bankrupt cottonwoods
shed their leaves to pay their Spring debts.

Winding a clock backwards
fails to make me any younger.

Nor does it allow me a do-over
on my blunders.

Accumulated disappointments
rest in a warehouse awaiting distribution.

So many folks discount kindness
my retail shop goes under.

Some starlight hits the atmosphere wrong
and falls to earth broken.

I never wish to calculate love
or print love’s version of baseball cards.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dora offered her liver
to bail a friend
out of alcoholism.

Like Prometheus
a new liver grew back
by the next morning.

Tomorrow it will happen again
with a brand new friend
compelled to make the request.

Dora’s crime was the theft
of unconditional love
and presenting it to humanity.

There is no eagle
for a human hero to slay
to set her free.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Trust His Ear

Paul sought money
for a business startup.

He intended to manufacture love
on an industrial scale.

He possessed
a proprietary formula

for a molecule
that was both bitter and sweet.

It is the essence
of the music the stars hum.

A melody that keeps fires burning
during journeys across the void.

Since love potion
belongs to the vernacular

Paul intends
to create a viscid drink.

Thicker than Yoo-Hoo.
Thinner than Lakanto Maple Syrup.

I hum John Denver’s Annie’s Song
as I write out a check.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul spent the night
collecting the extra moonbeams
that fell to the ground.

He placed them in a cedar box
with two orcas carved in relief
upon the lid.

His plan was next morning
to braid the moonbeams
into Dora’s hair

so other might see
that loving glow he sees
when his eyes rest on her.

Paul overslept due to his late night
and Dora was out
before he woke

because it was a day of too many shadows
and the bronze bell’s call to church
rang a little bit hollow.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Hot Bread On The Sill Cools

Demand my affection
between the rows of blue corn.

An old folk song spills
from the farm house window.

We follow its lines back
to a threshold, return to a garden,

a love seat, an end table
with tall glasses of lemonade.

Demand my kisses
where the apples still hang

from stiff stems, not quite ripe,
but close—delicious to contemplate.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Over by the compost heap, the shovel
rests in turned earth—its blade an obstacle
for the many earthworms who rise up
from the firm ground to consume vegetables.

She gathers rose petals in an old washtub
on the back porch and water from the well.
Her bare feet depress the green grasses,
the brown grasses, the prints of mice.

Larka puts on a swan white blouse,
tweed pants, suspenders. Her hair,
fresh from washing, drips onto her chest,
plasters blouse to flesh.

The creek flows past the orchard,
past the dogs’ chase games without noticing.
The water’s rough decent flows around rocks
sets spray to light for shimmering mist-bows.

From the front porch swing, she sees
the dust cloud on the gravel road.
It approaches until the old truck bounces
into view, engine cranking a drive shaft.

He steps out of the cab, sweat soaked shirt
beneath a ragged blue overall bib.
His farm blunt hands unhook his brass.
His sun bleached lips draw her upward.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Leafy Piece Of An Unraked Yard

The man down the block
with the dirty-minded wife
barbecued peaches
to help her fulfill some fantasy
with smoky pits.

He injured his back twice this year
translating her fantasies into reality
for what he believes is both
for mental health
and an expression of love.

None of his efforts involved
landscaping, manicuring the lawn
or cutting down a tree
with a double headed axe.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

If At First You Don’t Succeed

The dead come to Paul
for him to teach them love
so they may pass
heaven’s gate.

He is poorly equipped
to teach such lessons,
but promised his mother
to do his best.

The first lesson
was a mountain walk
among the aspens
to a place above the tree line.

They spent the night
and watched the fireworks
of the Leonid asteroids
streak the sky

which gave way
to thin lines of clouds
that thickened
and then snow fell.

Since the dead
did not feel cold
they were not affected
by dropping temperatures.

But Paul pulled
his coat close around his body
and so he pulled
the dead close too.

What little warmth he had
he gave to the dead
thinking the disparity
would cause wings to sprout.

Snow angels was as close
as the dead came to growing wings.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


We dug a hole to place a maple tree.
We placed Richard’s ashes at the bottom.

A memory tree to provide comfort and shade
especially on hot summer days.

It was also a witness tree
as it observed us growing beyond

the loss of our brother and son
and took in our lives as nourishment.

One at a time we abandoned the maple
moving on to new locations.

And the people who purchased the house
from mother after father died,

expanded the house outward and upward.
They cut down the Richard-maple.

By that time, we were not afraid to express
that he lived on in our hearts.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Every moment of the day
I have the opportunity
of dying.

I know this from all manner of accidents
that have taken friends away
in the prime of their lives.

And so it is when a tree snake
swallows an egg whole
from a bird nest.

How do we find the courage
to drive the hectic traffic
at rush hour?

How do we find the pluck
to walk the rocky edge
of Sandia Crest?

Certainly not by calculating the odds
on spreadsheets
with arcane algebraic formulas.

Mostly by not thinking about it,
I think—just like I don’t think
about loving you. I just do.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney