Un-wedged from the Mouth

Lori took mason jars out into the night
to fill and cap them with moonlight
as the moon entered its first day
of the month when it could be labeled gibbous.

She transported the mason jars
to the round kiva at the bottom of the house
that the original owner built
with the Santa Fe style frame above it.

She placed one mason jar in each
of the four vaulted-arch nichos
where wooden and painted santos stood
the first day she moved in.

The silvery glow filled the kiva
with the power of four moons
and Lori’s rationalizing
this was more holy.

She sat cross-legged
in the center of the kiva floor
to enter a meditative state
that blurred the world’s boundaries.

Lori spoke childhood names
and rolled them off her second tongue
like turning rosary beads
so the world would show her

their current lives unfurled
by their present whispers
and the sleepy recognition
someone watched over them.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Breakfast Shortly After Midnight

You are about quiet.
The long walk.
Working the garden.

You neither win nor lose.
You live breath to breath.
In the not too long ago.
And the not quite yet.

You crafted peace
like a walnut rocking chair
sanded stained
and shellacked.

You savor your gray hair
like the gray rainclouds
and what the loss of each
from the wind means.

Behind it all is a song.
Your song.
Slow motion sips
from a never empty cup.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


What the waves bring
and deposit at our feet
is not tribute.

Our bright net cast
hauls in more plastic
than fishes.

I know you wished to capture
a sea dragon
not this kelp strand.

If the ocean controlled
its own currents
and tides

it might rid itself
of all our castaways—
trash or not.

No. I do not believe
the waves are ever silent
though an infinite meditation.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ink Stained Cuticles

This is the last instant
I can sit here
in crosslegged meditation
signaling to the world
all is okay
off the top of my knees.

A sports reporter
sits on the couch,
stares at a stopwatch
and records splits
on lapses
of empty mindedness,
as I blurt out
baseball scores
and stat lines
from Mickey Mantle’s
favorite summer.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Unexpected poetry
writes itself
with illegible marks
in my footprints
as I walk
with the simple gate
of the old route step
along the highway shoulder
in a non-thinking state
I never approached
in a meditation center
or while kneeling in prayer
before candles
and a saint
or the crucified.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I need a ride.
I do not have time to walk.

No one answers my calls.
My smart phone does not know who is available.

There is Lyft.
But money remains scarce.

The walk will do me good.
It may tire me out before I reach her grave.

A walk usually sorts my emotions.
Walking meditation is better than driving meditation.

Meditation is better than medication.
Today I need big medicine, man.

No, her grave is not on the rez.
It is up in the mountains.

One of those small family boneyards.
Pioneers from long ago.

It is up among the aspens.
I trespassed on some old claim.

Added her ashes to the earth.
One foot north of Josiah’s headstone.

Josiah’s last name is lost to time.
His headstone is cracked and weather beaten.

Numbers state seventeen-ninety-nine-dash.
He was born on my birth month and day.

There are four other unreadable markers.
Lichen splotched stones outline the size of the yard.

Her ashes are under one of those stones.
I scratched her initials onto that stone.

She is neither in nor out of the pioneer boneyard.
The aspens migrated over the plot.

No trail leads up there.
I start where a stream passes under the road.

My feet always know their way through the wild
to those stones among the aspens.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney