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

Power Lines Downed By An Ice Storm

Night leaves holes in the sky.
Polkadot daylight.

Callous goat milk
leads a singing cat to slaughter.

Cows do not run around
like chickens with their heads cut off.

The eggshells Paul walks on
crack under his unbridled worry.

I stay up at night painting
word balloons for bleating sheep.

Paul trained the cock to crow
on the hour and carries it as his time piece.

When I see ghosts they are always people
not any of the animals I’ve butchered.

No matter how many barnyard cats live here
there are always plenty of mice.

I left the bible out and opened to random pages
hoping they would convert to church mice.

Paul stood up and danced after eating ice cream.
The brass section started up.

He planned his next confession
to be a musical number.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


A red-tailed hawk stood on a fence post
that separated a rural highway
from a cornfield.

Her head turned back and forth
as a hundred bicyclists
with numbers on their backs

blurred past not seeing
the statuesque bird
or the mice that searched for food

around the corn stalks.
One mouse dared to rush
to the sentinel post and back.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Childhood Reenactment

My pet mice were named
Joseph and Mary.

One of the six in the litter
had to be named Jesus.

But which one that lay
on the shredded paper nest?

Our dog enacted the roles
of all the barn animals each day for treats.

Our outside motion sensor light
was the Star of Wonder.

Three house finches at the window
played the Wise Men.

Not taking us seriously,
our local youth priest mock-blessed

the liquid inside the no drip
small animal water bottle.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Here We Go Again

Paul lives in the basement.
Daily, he sacrifices Oreo cookies to the mouse gods in the wall.
He fell under the enchantment of their whiskers and pink noses.
I am fairly sure it is legal to sacrifice Oreo cookies.
I am not sure if Paul blesses the Oreos beforehand.

Paul practices going both up and down the stairs.
He strives for a level of perfection in everything he does.
The smoke detector buzzed when Paul burned a cat drawing
to smudge the basement with mice protecting juju.

The mice appreciated Paul’s dedication.
They performed circus acrobatics and high wire stunts to entertain him.
They performed these daring feats for the Oreos as well.
For a time the mice brought Paul little gifts they found outside.
A plastic button, three acorn caps, a sword shaped toothpick.

Paul went with us to church on Sunday.
Communion was given about two-thirds through the service.
When the priest placed the wafer upon Paul’s tongue,
Paul placed an Oreo in the priest’s mouth.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


No one named Paul lives in our house. Our house does not have a basement. Our house does not have mice. (The mice live under the tool shed.) The character Paul is a fancy created by me so I can do those things in my mind that I have wanted to do in reality, but know those acts are a bit over the line into transgression (or just plain stupid).

I wonder how a proper sample size of priests or ministers, when studied scientifically, would react if during communion someone placed a wafer-shaped eatable in their mouths. Would they react like Federer when Nadal returns his serve? Would they drop dead from surprises since the Oreo is not part of the script? Would they say thank you?

The poem is about Paul, though. How people start doing things and then transfer habits to new but similar situations. I do not mean to equate priests with mice on a one-to-one basis. I do not mean to equate Paul to a priest, even though I realized the poem could be interpreted that way about a week after I wrote it.

I do know you (the reader) will make up your own mind what the poem means to you. I love art for that.

Love & Light