Exposed by the Elements

Paul catalogued bones.
He had no boxes so made piles.

On each bone he tied a tag
on which he jotted information.

Many of the bones were broken
or fractured.

Any cloth remnants
he taped to the bones by which they lay.

He placed loose teeth in a mason jar.
He placed loose beads in a different mason jar.

He placed oxidized lead bullets
in an old leaded green glass mason jar.

All of the bullets were misshapen.
Some bit bone fragments.

No weapons. No tools.
No other personal effects.

He knew he was not scientific
in the manner of archeologists.

He guessed he broke a law
about uncovering native burial sites.

He rationalized this was not a burial site
but a massacre site.

Working with the dead did not bother him.
He felt ghosts pass by him as he exposed bones to the air.

He did not speculate if the ghosts
rose toward heaven or just let him be.

Paul figured the magpies and crows
passed down stories of what actually happened here.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

note

This is a fictional “what-if one of my hikes passed by exposed bones” poem.

Aspen Glow

Paul writes nature poems
on top of nature
in an act of literary graffiti.

The wind dismembers his poems quickly.
It mistakes the black ink
as industrial soot from all over the world.

Some days Paul writes city poems
on the natural landscape
to prepare it for urban sprawl.

The wind moves those poems around too
but more like paper litter
that flutters like dropped leaves.

He has lived in Taos New Mexico
for three years
and has no friends

from the Taos Pueblo
the Land Grant hispanic community
or the 60’s hippy generation.

He knows he moved to Taos
to stroke the mountain flanks
with his eyes.

To meet the ethereal beings
that live off of the hum
and draw rainbows down from the clouds.

A magpie lifts him out of this thinking
with a long sentence of magpie words.
He has not yet mastered magpie.

He begins writing a spirit poem
on the air in front of him
in a slanted sun script.

The magpie snatches the first line
flies with it up into an aspen
and drapes it on a branch like tinsel.

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

Fluorescent Screams

So many people translate
the english language into outrage
without really hearing
any of the words
or parsing for meanings
other than what they know
a statement must mean.

When house cats are used
as suicide bombers
it will proves the new Visigoths
are bloodying the earth
with roman stones
and burned law books
releasing those tying straps
to feline torsos.

The new Buddha
sits under a piñon tree.
He listens to the magpies’ chorus
while eating peaches.
And wild horses struggle,
skin rib-bone stretched
and salt-crusted nostrils
seek water.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Plateau

In the desert
you smell rain storms

before they clear
the horizon.

It is the salt tinged
taste of hope.

It is magpies
bending in the heat.

My twisted heart
straightens in sage thick air.

Juniper snips
the bindings of time.

I dive into a cloud’s shadow
and swim.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Far Reaching Implications Of Chores

The sun drags us across the galaxy.
The shy moon slips back into the earth.
A background noise is contained in the void.

My job is to navigate the sun
through the echo, not running into anything
more substantial than gamma rays.

I make course corrections from the kitchen
at the sink as I wash dishes.
It is accomplished by how I align the tableware in the drainer.

The affect of these imperceptible course changes
may be measured no sooner than ten-thousand years.
I determine the corrections by observing the flights of magpies.

If I hold the refrigerator door open too long,
Jupiter slows its orbit and repositions its moons.

If I forget to sweep the kitchen floor
Saturn alters the tilt of its rings.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Elemental

Another season of hummingbirds.
The red blooms flame the noon eye.
Wasps stagger, drunk on fallen plums.
The sky unclouds its blues.
Such clarity demands black and white
and so a magpie lands on the nearest branch.
There are no dead here for him to carry over.
My Cubs shirt draws his scolding.
Sophie Germain could do the math.
How many dead can the magpie cross over at once?
A very large prime number I assure you.
I think they would prefer our muted dirt.
Vegetables and flowers will sound off soon enough.
A while back, Will’s ashes enriched our fig tree.
Carbon rich or carbon neutral?
He will be our Sunday host once the figs purple in August.
A white fright feather wafts from the blue.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Link to Sophie Germain Wikipedia entry.

Seven-Twelve is Seven-Twelve Again

Hours ago, the sky stopped rotating,
but the earth kept right along.

Bees swirl around a bruised peach
like electrons around an atom’s nucleus.

The magpies attach towropes to the sky,
attempt to catch it up.

As we wait the magpies’ return,
the mistletoe consumes a cottonwood.

When you are barefoot,
bees harvesting clover blooms are tiny landmines.

This is the year the roses go on strike,
middle grey petals, a repellent metallic odor sent forth.

The bees refuse to pollinate the roses this season—
an unintended consequence.

The magpies return, pleased with their group effort.
The sky and earth synchronized with Swiss timekeeping precision.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney