Matted Carpet

Once a boy reaches a point
so far into the woods
the world of his childhood
seems hopelessly lost,
he un-zippers his mouth
and screams
with such primal agony
that leaves turn
from red and yellow
to brown and fall.

At the edge of the woods
his mother fears
the forest monster
that bellowed its agony
must be fearsomely wounded
thus dangerous
and she goes back into the house
for the shotgun
unsure if it will protect her
from the beast if it emerges.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


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


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

After A War

After a war
mothers walk
the underworld
to retrieve
their sons
and daughters.

But they
do not look
the same
as they did
when alive.

Empty hands
return with tears
from shallow
ponds and
the deepest lake.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Mother just spoke.
They were good words.
Those words hung in the air.

They spoke of goodbye.
Not the goodbye after coffee,
but the goodbye of crossing over.

Heavy words rather than everyday words.
Love made them buoyant
and resonant in my ear and heart.

All people are new at dying.
In life, we are not so practiced
at letting go.

Her words were not of the other side,
but this side of love and might have beens.
The simple truth as if to prepare us.

As if we were still too young to see,
to understand the obvious,
to feel the frailness of her grip.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


This poem looks back to my mother’s passing in 2001.


Do not ask me to consider
raising my mother to the level of saint.

I am sure there were significant amounts
of martyrdom, being an early twentieth century woman.

But I have no desire to open
my grave memories of her

for you and others to claim finger bones
or locks of hair for your reliquaries.

Why aren’t your coming of age memories of my mother
enough to maintain her in your mindfulness?

Why do you not understand how Richard’s death
and her miscarriages affected her?

The earth can absorb her full history.
The salt of her humanity rise in trees.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


My mother passed away in 2001. I remember the funeral and the greeting line post funeral. Over three hundred people attended. Many, maybe most, were women who my mother had mentored through Girl Scouts. There experience of her was very different than mine. I remember the gush of their praise of her to me.

My mother’s ashes were spread among the trees at a Girl Scout camp that she attended each year as a leader.