Extract

Mother stripped the sun
of its color each day
before putting it to bed.

This has nothing to do
with the long ago
Spanish lust for gold and inquisition.

When I smell flowers
it is as if someone sprinkled blossoms
inside my empty skull.

I carefully pulled my fist apart
before chatting
with an unmasked stranger.

I looked at her with carnelian eyes
edged by
turquoise crows feet.

This has nothing to do
with incongruent syllables strung together
by the overtaxed homeless.

Mother dressed the sun
in saffron robes
to flavor the stranded morning.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Commitment To Seeing It Through

There is an edge.
A stonewall in a meadow.
Moss covered ground stones.

The meadow is full of flowers.
Both sides just as colorful.
Just as lovely.

You are injured.
You drowse with your back against the wall.
Head bent under your broad brimmed hat.

Your gentle breath pushes the breeze.
Just as easily it takes the breeze inside you.
You are unaware of the sweat bees on your arm.

Within your sleep you feel stings.
It is not the bees.
It is the memory dream of a CSI episode.

The sun shines equally on both sides of the stonewall.
The wildflowers snuggle up against the stones.
In some places they are high enough to hide the low wall.

Your father stands on the other side.
Swallowtail butterflies decorate his bare arms.
His bare feet bear dirt from his walk to this location.

Your mother waits on this side.
She calls out to you to finish your math homework.
To come to the kitchen for milk and cookies.

Her calling wakes you.
You stand. The bees take their leave.
Your shadow casts itself across the stonewall.

Your shadow alters its angle on the other side.
Confused, you pull back from your father.
You notice the greenery grows at different angles as well.

You walk across the field toward your mother.
Not because she called you. But for yourself.
Nothing to do with television characters.

Who grow louder as you cross the meadow.
You return to the antiseptic room with white walls.
Your mother reads aloud a poem from Now We Are Six.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Transfigure

A poems starts
Imagine your mother was a turtle.

Immediately I am lost.
My mother was way too fast to be a turtle.

I seek permission to change the poem
so it says, Imagine your mother was a jackrabbit.

Maybe I will edit the poem
in the margins. In pencil.

In ink once I am sure I prefer my edits
over the poet’s original lines.

No. Not all of the book’s poems.
Just this one.

I mean at fifty-five my mother
sprinted across tennis courts

to stab at drop shots
and deftly returned them on most occasions.

In the second part of the poem
the author asks me to imagine my mother

as an oyster. A bivalve of all things.
A water filter attached to a dock piling.

Again. Something non-moving.
The poem has no flow.

When the poet, in the third part
suggests I imagine my mother

as a cicada, that non-stop droning sound
is perfect for the lectures I received.

Her usual talking at me
instead of with me.

I should reread the poem
from the start.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sentinel

My mother left me one thing
when she passed away—
a statuette of a standing grizzly bear.

Smooth wood and minimal form
a dark brown stain
a granite base.

It stands at the foot of my bed
to make bad dreams wary
of approaching my sleep.

If she set it up as sentinel
back when I suffered
childhood night terrors

she would have slept
through until dawn
more often than not.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Appeal

The debate cut its teeth
on the stone wall
and a solitary fright feather
drifted down
on an uneven path
where a boy crossed over.
It caused him to halt
with one foot on each side,
believing a snow flake
had fallen.
He lifted his head skyward,
mouth opened
to catch flurries,
but saw in heaven’s
persistent window
the mirror of his grave
freshly dug in the thick
cemetery grass.
He thought of his mother
crying out in grief
and wished to comfort her
but could not
un-straddle himself
from the stone wall
to return to his adobe home
through the landscape
thick with cholla
and the thrashers
that nested in them.
In this straight
he appealed to his
guardian angel for release
from spiritual obligation,
this errand of solace
for the bereft.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Radiant

Paul imagined his mother’s grave.
Rain pelted it.
A branch fell torn from a tree.
The headstone toppled.

He wondered why his imagination
failed to produce snow
so deep as to hide
the graveyard.

He decided it was because
his feelings toward his mother
were not as cold as snow
or sleet or hailstones,

but more like a wind that injures trees
and innocent bystanders.
Old unexpressed angers
vented into the ether.

Paul planned a drive back to Denver
on some spring day
when the first thaw drips icicles
from tree branches and gutters.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Today’s entry was posted a couple hours later than usual due to the internet being down in our area for several hours.