Our Roof Always Sheltered Us

It was day before I knew it
because I slept late
but made it to work on time.

We were free to ride the elephant
which is what we called
our truck coated in grey primer.

I knew as we drove
this land was our country
for as far as we could drive in a day.

As we drove we spotted
white and black faces
along the side of the road

and all the shades of brown—
all with their thumbs out
heading north at a snail’s pace.

Our job was to hand out bottled water
to the thirsty
and PB&Js to the hungry

then report the body count
to a sixth floor office
in a dull white municipal building.

It seemed we should be reporting
to a cathedral or church
responding to some biblical edict.

But no. It was our response to music
both inside and outside our heads.
Half hearing. Half reacting.

Most days Delphi and I never saw
any other traffic.
Half a tank out and half a tank back again.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pin Drop Bicycling

Pin-drop life spent among
transient sandhill cranes.

My legs struggle to keep up
on the migration north from Bosque del Apache.

This existence is beautiful
because I declare it so.

Not for the bird songs.
Not for the tourists viewing with binoculars.

So we cross the Platte
headed to marshes north of interstate ninety.

Minnesota’s ten thousand lakes.
Wisconsin’s Horicon.

Michigan’s upper peninsula.
And all over Canada.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Old Fires as the Earth Wakes from Slumber

I do not believe
to love my country
is the same
as to love the land.

My country
is three hundred million opinions
joined at the polls
on election day.

The land is the ground
as my feet pass over it
without the pretense
of ownership.

My country
feels battered
by different visions
of direction and providence.

The land
evolves as climate changes
through migrations
and deadwood burning.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul stands alone
in the crowded town square.

Market day and he
just stepped off the bus

duffel bag in hand
a blue kepi on his head.

Pendleton wool jacket
over blue jeans, over boots.

New town. New Job.
New friends to be made.

A tarot reader insists on
an eight hour minimum wage day

to hint at fortune
and future.

Paul notes the market’s attendants
from bejeweled upper class

to grimy huddles
of the homeless.

A girl smokes a cigarette.
It clouds her beauty.

A Christmas tree blinks
adjacent to a gazebo

where a mariachi band
plays Christian holiday standards.

He types an address
into his smart phone—

two point three mile walk
to an empty apartment

and, being Sunday,
no heat or electric

until tomorrow
after his first day on the job.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ready Or Not

The air shows no signs
of human progress.

Bird tongues wag
stone throws at bones.

This ninety-eight degree sunshine
is more than symbolism.

Each raindrop that fails
to hit the ground

never changes the color or temperature
of heated stones.

Familiar birds have flown away
and new ones have replaced them.

There is the option to move north.
They never imagined all of us.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney