Peel Of White Bark

Paul recognized he wore a fever.
He was not so sure if it was love or the flu.

Against his conscious will he scratched his nose.
His voice turned into a dull hoarse vapor.

He dreamt himself walking an aspen grove.
He asked for forgiveness for bringing his sickness up the mountain.

Again, he was not sure if his sickness
was love or the flu.

Paul decided to keep his mouth shut about his condition.
His words circled the wagons to defend themselves.

The aspen grove asked him for an apology.
He was not sure an apology engaged forgiveness.

He wanted to be saved, but was not sure
if it was from love or the flu.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul reached his hand into oblivion
to see if he could grasp any old relics.

He touched a wooden head
and pulled loose its scorched tongue.

He rang poetry from that tongue
into an ice filled tumbler.

Paul drank the bittersweet love
worshiped in mythic chapels.

He touched dust laden roads
of long dead romances.

He Americanized rhyming words
of pre-Columbian Europeans.

Paul translated every tender kiss
and Innocence plundered.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

She Lies Absent

Paul triangulates
the girl of his dreams
to be in the shadow
of a witness sycamore
on the opposite side
of a creek run red.

She wears a dress
the color of turned sycamore leaves
and holds purple prairie aster
that competes
with the last of the dandelions
for the bees’ attention.

He must cross a bridge
made of aged white stone
against a rush of ghosts
groaning and wailing
amid the thunderous canon
and volleys hurled against them.

Upon seeing the color bearer drop
and old glory fall
the woman raises her arm to her brow,
in the manner of Victorian women,
slumps to the ground,
and disappears beneath the leaves.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Late Night

Such a garish red.
Your interior mind.
Deceptions work deceptions.
A horizontal fall.
A bed soaked passage.
You brush your interrupted tongue.
You depart to the compass points.
A pattern of edges.
A storied composition.
A bright objection.

Altogether we smooth rough spots.
We detect desire’s divergence.
Strike the red paint like a tent.
An exuberant room.
A collapsed wreckage.
Aggressive tears turn hurt to anger.
Sweat beaded upon skin.
Unmovable dirty windows.
Our hungers compete.

A headless pillow.
A dripping faucet.
Midair water droplets.
Perfect circles float.
A breeze created by breath.
A jagged calm.
You reveal yourself.
Everything I need to know.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Thank you for wearing a face mask
as you look from the outside through the window to see me.

Thank you for the lines at the edge of your eyes
that tell the nature of your smile.

Thank you for walking my three-legged dog
while I am blighted.

Thank you for painting mountains on the window
knowing how much it heartens me to see them.

Thank you for your personal appearance
even though you could FaceTime from home.

Thank you for holding up an unrolled yard of sod
so I could be refreshed by green grass.

Thank you for playing bird songs during our conversations
so I could feel my backyard in this hospital room.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Joins In As One

Her perfect voice
remains silent.

When she says, I love you.
It penetrates marrow deep.

When we walk the cemetery
her fingers twine with mine.

A white stone marker has no name
and halts our progress.

There is space enough
for both our names.

We muse about crossing over together
and what awaits us.

A cello ushers in the night.
Her perfect voice joins in as one.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


A mother’s love
is not guaranteed at birth.

Genetics supply
only a protective instinct.

Postpartum depression
cancels both.

This is the way of the world.
God made it so.

To find perfection in this fact
is to stand on Nirvana’s cusp.

I see you hesitate to walk
into an unpolished pearl.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sudden Rush

Reason shivers my spinal orangutan.
This is not a riddle.

You must learn me to love me.
Discard whatever you know each morning.

I am your happy hour drink.
I am a dream you forget each morning by eight.

In the twelve tastes a quarter apple
remains tangible but out of reach.

In the twelve quarters an owl
has no meaning devolved to humanity but owl.

My twelve sided face speaks with one tongue.
A ticket for little boats apt to capsize midstream.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Porch Swing

I try.
I try hard.
I try hard to remember.
I try hard to remember not to forget.

Today is my four thousandth
two hundred and seventy-second
day of loving you.
That is my longest streak until tomorrow.

Serendipity was our matchmaker.
Or God if you prefer.
Or the eclipsing moon you watched
out in your yard when I walked by.

There are beautiful birds in the cholla.
The front porch needs sweeping.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Around The Dog

Not tonight.
No he said she said.

No ping pong either.

No! Table tennis
is ping pong by another name.

Not fair of you to try to slip one by me.

I am tired and U. S. Grant’s migraine
infects my left hemisphere.

Yes. The brain. I feel blurry.

So now you think
we are a few hours from surrender.

Oh, how Appomattox of you.

This bedroom is not
Wilmer McLean’s parlor on April ninth.

Good night, dear.

Roll over and fall asleep
with your arm around the dog.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney