Building A Swipe-Right Profile

All Paul looked for
was a woman his age
with realistic expectations
of the human condition
and to seriously
not take things too seriously.

He told me over tea
he did not want that youthful love
where sex tangles up
both people without really seeing
each other for who they are
in less than a year.

If she asked him to take her
to his childhood home
he would refuse
and become silent knowing
there would be no right time to tell
that story and hope
she could connect the blurred dots.

He would offer to clean house
and do the grocery shopping
because he enjoys those things.
But she would have to
call the doctor for him
when he needed an appointment
because that was beyond his abilities.

And plastics. She would have to try
to remove as much plastic as possible
from their shared lives
even though that task is Sisyphus
pushing the rock against gravity each day.
But the job left un-started
never gets finished.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Anchoring The Earth

The tree of darkness balanced its shade.
Between all its leaves spiders spun webs.

In only one spot a circle of moonlight snuck through.
It illuminated a heart surrounding two names carved on its trunk.

The question is who would choose such a tree
to declare their love?

Even here a breeze disguises a greater breath
its collision with my cheek and throat.

As the moon sets, the spiders’ abdomens
issue a phosphorescent glow.

The leafy canopy blocks out all other constellations
to create its own in radiant blue hues.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Kind Of Distance

I climbed a hill on the only path I knew.
At the top I found many paths leading down.

There were sixteen directions I could take.
But to take one would mean abandoning the others.

I checked each after deciding
to choose the one path where I would meet someone.

Each path was empty of people
though all of them had many trees and plenty of birds.

During the next fifteen minutes
not a single animal crossed any of the trails.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
No mammals appeared in the hour.

My patients were rewarded
when a woman with wet hair up in a towel

sidled her wheelchair adjacent to my hip
without the axles making a squeak

or her heaving breath sounding other than
the leafy breeze on a sunny day.

I felt happy to not be alone at the top.
Words fell from both of us for a time

and clattered like stones to the ground
hitting our ears capped by the long pain of loneliness.

It was only then I realized how untouched
I had been for far too long.

The hill top lowered itself
like a city bus with hydraulics for the elderly to disembark.

She put away a self-retracting tape measure
that failed to hook any part of the altitude

to calculate our descent into entanglement
as the earth flattened our way home.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


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