Gnostics Have These Answers

Why do second-hands sweep?
Time is no cleaner for all their effort.

In which case I am glad they do not sweep up memory
so I recognize my beloved when I see her.

The night fills with dark.
But it is the absence of light that makes it so.

Not that the light is absent.
It is blocked by the earth’s rotation.

Like when my beloved turns her face from mine
and I cannot see her smile.

When I am at a loss for words
I have plenty of words at hand ready for use.

But all those words seem to be
the wrong thing to say under the circumstance.

Why are my words at hand?
It is not like I ramrod them in my mouth

like the barrel of a muzzleloading musket
before firing away.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Retention

I remember my brother’s coffin
before it was lowered into the ground.

He was cremated.
His ashes placed under a maple sapling we planted.

Someone took scissors to my memory.
They collaged over one with another.

Maybe this dual remembrance is a casualty
of too many concussions.

I suffered three big ones over the years.
Maybe those residual blows dig holes in my brain.

Maybe grief of a lost loved one
digs a hole in the brain as well as the ground.

I feel your fingers filling the holes
like my brain is a bowling ball.

No. That was water filling the hole
with seasonal freeze and thaw cycles.

It is a long time extracting tears
from eyes told Big boys don’t cry.

I was not big at the time of my brother’s death.
But I was told that axiom anyhow.

Maybe those tears are the waters
that filled the brain holes.

Maybe my memories were printed
with water soluble ink

and bled into other memories
which explains my eating potato salad

at my brother’s grave side
in the shade of a maple grown tall.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Always More

The untidy memory clings
to my eyelashes—
a smoke that never
brings me to tears
but always keeps them on edge.

I straddled a canyon once
thinking that the best way
to scrape the arid sky
to add to my color palette
with a little linseed oil.

Never more than a flash
that memory
is something I feel
like my blistered hand
soaking in pickle brine.

All of it dances beautifully
around the question
Do you love me?
and the answer piñata high
hit with an ash bat.

Some days I choose to get lost
in a deep bottle of Claret.
While other days I take the option
of cleaning the horse barn—
mice escaping the shifting debris.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Suspicious

When Paul first woke
he was pretty sure he only dreamed he woke.

He realized he truly woke
by rolling over and looking out the window.

The thrashers fed their young in the nest.
He rolled back over to face his girlfriend.

Her side of the bed was empty.
Paul realized he had no one left to support.

His memories of that wretched moment
told three totally different stories.

The back of his mind stated all of them were sick lies.
Paul sat up and his head swirled.

He looked out the window
to a vacant spot in the driveway.

There was a map he needs in the glove compartment!
But there was a rip in the driveway where the car should be.

So the car needed mending.
Or was it his memory of the car that needed mending.

In the bathroom mirror a bandage covered his forehead.
Removing it revealed a long gash and seventeen stitches.

A false nurse appeared by his bed.
A real nurse appeared in his false room.

The thrashers were gone.
A glaring light daggered his brain.

Paul reclined in the bed and returned to sleep,
so he might wake from a different dream.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Method To This Madness

Once the year concludes
I will be as different as jellybeans
from jellyfish.

I am happy when a day ends.
I will never relive it.
Not even in summer reruns.

I swept up all the wasted time,
but there was not enough
to create even a single dust bunny.

My mind let out a ball of string
so I could follow my thoughts
through its decision-making process.

My mind dropped the ball of string
in the middle of a dark forest
where wisps of fog impersonated ghosts.

Now I have misplaced my glasses.
How will I follow my breadcrumbs?
No. Wait. I have a string to rewrap into a ball.

What if the dark forest is where
memories go to be forgotten
or eaten by bark beetles and termites?

I guess forgetting myself
is the first step in changing who I am
and wiping the slate clean

in order to write a new story line
where the numbers add up
and I clearly remember what I experienced.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Bearing

I think about leaving.
as I sit against a witness tree.
It is all about staying.
It is all about this beloved earth.

I sing time into a fog.
I feel memory unwrap from my being.
As I waft away from gravity
I know memory is the tether that holds me here.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

All The Same Size

I lived in a line.
It was sequential.
There were no do-overs.
I tried a do-under, but that didn’t work either.
Tradition made the line a little less visible.
Singing turned the line into a landscape.

Memory made copies
of small line segments.

I could sort them last in first out.
I could sort them first in first out.
I could create a totally random access.
Like a deck of cards, I threw them
and picked them up one by one.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Freshness Date

I was thirteen.
I was fourteen, fifteen and other numbers as well.

I wanted to live them out of sequence.
An unwritten rule prevented that.

Every human face I have ever known
wears several ages simultaneously.

I am sure you have noted this phenomenon
and wished your eyes sparkled like when you were ten.

Some dates within the calendar of my years
are larger than other dates and my mind returns to them regularly.

I have laid in bed thinking about some of those
mostly because those dates demanded it.

Last night I reviewed sitting low among the rocks
high up above the clouds on the Spanish Peaks

and calming the dogs as a thunderstorm arced lightning
across the tops of the clouds a hundred feet below us.

That was thirty years ago, but the ozone
smells as fresh as if the percussions rumbled through me now.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sequential By Date

I hope you thought
my hesitation at greeting you
with your name
was me simply
searching through
files and files of memory images
to locate one
with your face
that still had the caption
printed just below
the color field
in the white border.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

I am one of those people who will remember your face for just about forever, but has trouble attaching names to the faces. It is not a problem with people I see regularly, but with the folks I run into infrequently.

I would like to say it is an age issue, but I have had this problem for as long as I can remember.