Walking down the wrong street
bullets called out your name
but none of them knew how to pronounce
the umlaut over the A
so their lead missed your body
but hit many other things
that shattered upon impact
or shattered the bullet upon its impact.

You were not oblivious
but more concerned about the stranger
who screamed out for a hug
while two dozen tiny moons circled their head
as a reckoning of how many lunar mouths passed
since they were last touched.

Believing they witnessed a miracle
the shooters scattered
not wishing to be in the proximity
of something so holy that God’s breath
saturated the neighborhood’s air
like the little puff from a kiss just let go.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Angela crawled into her cage.
Her cage: a second floor duplex.
A dark cave her depression created.
Carved in the shape of a reading room with no lights.

Angela’s occasional appearances dared us to like her.
She pretended to dislike all of us.
She disliked herself too much to like anyone.
Or believe they could like her.

Her face saw the sun so infrequently it seemed porcelain.
If she located an invisible wall she could be mistaken for a mime.
She had plenty of invisible walls.
Our attempts at friendship ran into them regularly.

Angela was accomplished at suffering.
Her suffering transformed into poetry.
Some of her poetry made your face blanche as white as hers.
To hear her poetry was to experience deranged sacredness.

We asked our local church to add a side alter dedicated to Angela.
The church refused our request.
Her suffering was not recognized by the Vatican.
Angela miracles had not yet been confirmed.

Knowing Angela’s story, we thought her life a miracle.
Being kind toward others after such violence: a miracle.
Being loving toward others after such sexual abuse: a miracle.
See! Two miracles! Pay attention, Vatican!

Angela crawled into her cage one winter.
She relabeled it a cave for hibernation.
It remained a reading room to casual observation.
She placed every ounce of her suffering into new poems.

The white pages could not contain such intensity.
The papers burst into flames and spread.
Her upper burned without damaging the lower unit.
A third miracle, Vatican!

Angela survived this conflagration.
She used it as a metaphor for a gateway.
I saw her smile today at the cafe.
She returned my wave hello.

She seemed more human now, with a ragged sacredness.
Her poems won accolades and awards.
She never read her poems in public.
She refused to live within the province of those words.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Okay. It is Christmas Eve and I am posting a poem about depression and beating depression and the miracle of people living through depression. But the holidays are the most depressing time of the year for depressed people who feel more acutely alone at this time, because they do not have friends or family to spend the holidays with. Or worse, they know they are depressed and purposefully shut themselves off not wishing to detract from others’ joy.

My recollection of reading about the Christian Saints is that most of them were elevated to sainthood for maintaining a christian love while living under strong duress and pain in one form or another. I think people who live with depression, yet find a way to be kind and loving are exerting saint-like effort. Feel free to plug in a different word for depression, like handicapped or poverty.

There are days when I think of the word Jihad. I mean the definition: the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin. People who face adversity must struggle with the easy out of blaming their circumstances for sinful behavior. People who have privilege must struggle against the ease of sinful behavior, since they can use their privilege to bully justice.

I wish for all of you the strength and wisdom to be the kind, loving, caring person who seeks fair play and justice. I expect you to draw boundaries and use strength to maintain yourself, both physically and in spirit. Be who you are wholly and completely.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.


An Angel Of The Lord

An angel of the lord descended from heaven
and set foot upon the Rio Grande.

She exchanged wings for a blue jean jacket
and placed a holy sadness in the book bag upon her back.

Along the bosque trail, adjacent to the Rio Grande,
we met and I introduced myself.

The words that formed her name
revealed the threads that form the fabric of the universe.

The iron of my own blood formed a gravity well
and I felt the weight of a new world pull on me.

The angel informed me that as I am allotted one life
so the earth is our one earth.

She turned her head and watched a heron
spear a fish and swallow it.

She transformed me into a heron
and herself into the salmon of knowledge.

Thus I speared and consumed her.
The iron gravity well of my blood drew me back into my own shape.

I walked to the bridge and rejoined the city.
Urgently I spoke to folks on the sidewalks.

I had not yet digested all her knowledge
thus spoke in tongues, so I sounded like a mad man.

Albuquerque’s homeless population had increased.
The city’s mental healthcare system was faulty.

The sidewalk people either avoided me
or offered me coins from their pockets.

Failing to transmit her message, my blood boiled with frustration.
The iron grouped into a ball to form a new core.

We have only this earth, our one earth.
My blood iron formed a new belief set core.

At Fourth and Central my words settled back into English.
My first words expressed the consumed angel’s holy sadness.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney