Another Day

Paul crouched by the cold mountain spring.
Ice skirted the stones surrounding it.

He felt solitary. Not lonely.

He felt the shock of a twig snap.
A family of elk weaved through the aspens.

The cold did not affect their thirst.

They moved to the stream below the spring.
Below Paul on the slope.

He felt the desire to be wild.

To live as the elk among the aspens.
To be closer to god in nature.

High on the mountain.

All these thoughts tugged at him to stay.
He retreated to humanity.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mending Boundaries

Thor stood before Paul.
Lori, Delphi and myself a few steps behind him.

This occurred on the mountain at the tree line
as Paul claimed it happened before.

Thor did not wear the Marvel Hero outfit
but a cowboy hat, bandanna

faded patched jeans
and boots with more miles than leather.

Thor’s hammer was there—
put to the task of mending fence.

Shiny barbwire replaced
broken rusted barbwire.

The summer cows gave us room.
Black bears liked to poke their noses

out of the tree line
to gaze at Thor working.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Where I Tell Dianne about the Civil War

We walk together.
Longer than we imagined.

We know the trail well.
We know where to help each other.

There are no wrong turns.
We know all the trails.

Some dead end at boulders.
Others make loops.

One goes up and over the ridge line.
Another follows the arroyo east.

We pass by strangers.
We hear snippets of their stories.

We hear mountain bike bells.
We hear thrashers and towhees.

We never ascend to the crest.
We remain below the tree line.

We never doubt
our return to the trail head.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Location (times five)

A poet walks to the end
of a diving board above a pool
and recites poetry
until a little boy shoves him off.

A poet walks to the end
of a fashion runway
and recites poetry
as models parade around him.

A poet walks to the end
of an airport runway
and reads poems
to the planes as they take off and land.

A poet walks to the end
of a rocky outcropping on the mountain
and reads poems
to the mountain trees and creatures.

A poet steps up onto a soapbox
in the business district plaza
and reads poems
to the lunch-time suits relaxing in the shade.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Greyed Posts Below the Tree Line

In my month of cleaning the mountain
I learned the location of old grave stones.

Butchered animal bones littered
the dirt inside an old stone foundation

along with rusty accouterments
and leather scraps.

Misplaced nut and fruit trees struggled
to ignore the blind rag doll half-buried in pine needles.

A snake escaped through last year’s leaves
making a grating sound that curled my spine.

For all my washing the whispers of the dead
lay insulated under the soil.

A rusted and shivered muzzleloading musket
spoke of open wounds run red

but not the gravedigger or stone carver
or what dangerous cure was in cobalt blue shards.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul laments the dead
with whiskey shots
until the world blurs
into a dysfunctional sleep.

A meteor spins downward
through the atmosphere
until it explodes
due to the misshapen friction.

He does not view
his mountain home as utopia
but a heartbreak
when he is away.

All the paperwork for the dead
got signed and delivered.
Properties did not change
but their titles did.

The dispossessed still haunt
the house and the Toyota—
Paul notices the little things
he did not notice before.

The ferryman is long ago paid
but not Uncle Sam.
Paul sorts through financial instruments
looking for a hammer.

He walks miles upon the mountain
but grieving does not find a place
among the boulders, piñon
and dry arroyos.

Paul is more aware of the dark
because he is often awake at night.
He feels lingering sorrows
only when the rain falls on Albuquerque.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


It use to be I got inspired to write poems
while walking four to ten miles on the mountain.

If my dogs accompanied me, I got less inspiration
because I minded them instead of inspiration.

It was not that my dogs were not inspiring
but I was sick of writing dog poem variations.

I did find positive feedback from poetry readings
brought out the desire in me to write more popular poems.

But then I wrote poems from that part of my head
that wanted to write positive feedback poems

and it pandered to the likes and dislikes of the audience
instead of writing from the heart.

My heart was happy I walked four
to ten miles on the mountain each day

since that kept my heart in good shape
and it beat without obstruction.

My beating heart did not care if I wrote poems or not.
I liked it when the dogs came along because my heart beat lighter.

During my walks on the mountain
I paid less attention to the mountain

than to my recent human interactions
especially if they involved love or the lust form of love.

The mountain and the mountain forests
did not feel ignored by my inattention to them.

Occasionally I was so lost in replay of an interaction
I tripped and fell due to inattention to the mountain.

My falls did not bang poems out of my head.
Though they banged a poem or two into my scraped hands for typing.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

No Thunder No Lightning

Paul asked God to come down
and dangle feet off the end of the pier into the lake—
for them to have a talk about important things.

Paul pushed a tune out of a penny whistle while waiting.
He watched his mirroring image in the lake surface.
How it wobbled through his recent ups and downs.

God arrived as a gentle rain
that settled in the mountain valley
and speckled all the land and water in sight.

Paul spoke his most intimate conversation
with face lifted into the rain.
Drops occasionally interrupted a word

as they hit his mouth deep in his throat.
Or it could be that he choked up
with tears hidden by the falling water.

During this time Paul found his tongue
was made of cedar and magpie feathers
and his skin felt like it unraveled to expose his inner self.

The rain ended as sudden as it began.
Paul felt God rise back to the god place
as the sunshine returned.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

We Formed A Quintet

We offered our shouts to the sky.
It was all we had that would rise.

I said it was shouts
but it was a very loud song.

We wished to reach the heavens
to let loved ones know we do alright.

We sang from a mountain top
to make the distance shorter.

It was not the tallest mountain in the state
but the tallest we had close by.

Being autumn enough
elk bugled in accompaniment.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Opens Under Fire

Paul stands
in a hollow on a mountain.

The hollow does not allow him to view
the broad river valley below.

Most people climb mountains
to view far away things.

Paul hikes the mountain
for a closer look

at the trees and wildflowers
and rock that extends deep into the earth.

Some days he presses his face
into ponderosa pine trunks

to view the variations in bark
and catch a whiff of vanilla.

Other days he sits on a rock outcropping
in a high meadow where pikas live

and watches them become accustom
to his quiet sitting.

They grace him with their presence
and rodent antics.

This is his paradise.
His garden of eden.

He imagines God’s forbidden fruit
described as a pine cone.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney