Restoration

Dora places
bright orange
construction cones
around our
love seat
as we initiate
the project
of building intimacy
but refurbishing
may be a better word
since we have
been together
fourteen years.
Lovely years
interspersed
with flareups
over silly things
like my ragged
flannel shirt
or her coffee mug
with the broken handle.
And serious things
like my resolving PTSD
and her releasing
codependency.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Repair

I placed my goal
in a vow
of silence
that should last
at least
three years
so the air
would have time
to heal
from my
violent rhetoric
in our last
stupid fight
over the date
Constantinople
changed its name
to Istanbul.
Which was
nineteen-thirty.
A date
neither of us
had right.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Confluence

Unable to carve
in stone
Paul accepts
the penetration
of the tattoo artist’s
sharp pens.

Norse Runes
in a band
up and around
the arm shoulder
and back
as if flesh
was stone.

A story.

Her story
mirrored in an odd mix
of ancient
characters
approximating
modern words.

Once he wore
a talisman.
Keltic loops
woven serpentine
that disguised
a pentacle
and heart—
Love is Magic.
Was.

It lay with its twin
in her grave.
Gold for future
robbers and thieves
to excavate.

Also on him
Santa Muerte.
Mythology mix.
Modern adaptation.
Adoption.
Neo creationism
for what the spirit
requires.
Today.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Vine Ripened

Paul takes
an evening walk.
Albertsons offered them
as free samples
in aisle seven
by the frozen foods.

He wishes
Albertsons
offered
orange wedges
like after
Little League
baseball games
when he
was young.

Or if the produce
section
had free samples
of fresh love
on a stainless
steel tray
pierced
by toothpicks
proffered
by a girl
from marketing
who wore
a dangerous
smile.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Face Value

Paul got engaged
when he was nineteen.

It did not last long
because the girl did not wish to marry.

She did desire to wear
a diamond on her ring finger

and show it off to her girlfriends
for a couple days.

She loved Paul for not being mad
and for understanding her desire.

He did not understand
but simply accepted facts at face value.

They had a dis-engagement dinner
the equivalent of the dinner

on night he originally proposed
happily-ever-after-ing together.

There was no breakup sex
since neither of them felt broken.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Magpie

Paul records bird names in a little book.
He records Thrasher many times each day.

All of his thrashers are curved billed thrashers.
He is unaware there are any other types.

Paul thought about marrying once.
He wanted to be a stepfather.

The woman Paul was interested in
had no children of her own.

She collected strays from the neighborhood
which had a high abandonment rate.

Paul said thank you to her for the opportunity
but he was only in like with the woman.

He liked that she listened to his words
but came to understand

she only listened to every other word
unless the word started with a hard consonant.

Paul records Magpie in his little note book
for the first time while in Albuquerque.

After five days he crosses out Magpie
since no corroborating witnesses came forward.

Little did Paul know that there is a Magpie
and it records people sightings in a little note book

though no one has yet postulated
how the Magpie groups people.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Surrender

Knowing your mercenary heart
I asked you to fight my battles
and win every one.

We haggled for several hours
but were too far apart
and neither side opted for arbitration.

I no longer know your voice
since you chose not to be the fierce friend
to back me up in bars.

You took up watching soap bubbles
exude from fancy toys
to dazzle park goers.

I dove into digital numbers—
the infinite subset between
zero and one.

As you gathered folks around you
to enjoy the simple wonders
that brought you to natural settings

I pushed them farther and father away
connecting through applications
and screens across oceans.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Saying I Love You

Think of all the straight paths
that raindrops take
that are deflected by tree leaves
and the leaves of other small plants and bushes.

I say this to illustrate
that there is no direct route
to where what one loftily says
is absorbed by another who is grounded.

I remember you were as severe
as granite rock cleaved into two
by tectonic forces beyond my imagining
along the fault line of my sins.

Which is worse. Stuffing words in your ears?
Or stuffing words in your mouth?
Or the entwining of spirits that takes place
no matter how casual the sex?

If it was in my power I would have your image
stamped on the coins of the land.
Real money. Not some commemorative minting
sold on infomercials at odd hours.

That is I find the absence of your body
adjacent to mine for a few hours a day distracting.
And I and fond of observing how you extract joy
from studying fledgling thrashers on the cholla.

I think. I think we should try conversation
to see if it leads to knowing what shelf
the milk is stored on in the refrigerator
and who claims the Eggo waffle when the toaster pops.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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