Place of Power

A bad road to a vehicle
is probably a good road to walk.

The walk takes you
who knows where.

Bad roads fall off maps
and become lonely places—

places to be alone
among wildlife multitudes.

Out there as you watch the ghosts
of bugs eaten by birds in flight

you may decide it is time
to bury your talisman under freedom.

It may take you days to notice
there are no boundaries.

Neither rivers nor mountains
are boundaries if you learn their ways.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Safe Place

Paul sought sanctuary among the aspens.

They granted it after
he dropped on his knees in tears.

They softened the afternoon sunshine.

The aspens shifted him away from the stream
into the center of the grove.

Here they protected him while he grieved.

They mistook his tears
for sap running down his trunk.

For an hour they protected his reflection.

They covered his scent
and stirred the leaves where his footprints marked.

Early spring smelled damp amid snow melt.

Rootlets grew upward
from the soil to touch his knees—console him.

The forest smelled good he remembered.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dank

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

Remember

My heartsong changes
as my body ages
and certain realities
force themselves
upon my bones
especially in winter.

Some days
I walk through
past refrains
in memory
on the mountains
I topped
and the oceans
whose waves
tumbled me.

Disappointment
never resides
in my mouth
on my tongue
as my powerful voice
disperses to a whisper
before the long sleep.

copyright © 2022 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

Surrounded

From the wildflower
protruding granite
where the stream
picks up speed
the aspens draw
Paul’s fascination
into a quizzical expression
as the trees move across
the mountain meadow
without a shepherd
to maintain
their peel-bark layers
as a curtain
around the sacred hart
centered in this grove
as the red deer ambles
lazily grazing.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Shattered Kind Of Sleep

Consciousness flickers
a black and white bird
from tree to tree.

Paul sinks to the ground
below a ponderosa
after staggering

a couple hundred yards
from his landing place
after a fall on granite.

Your sister comes to get you
repeats itself in his left ear
his right ear submerged in pine needles.

The ponderosa’s sap drips
There will be a tomorrow
upon his left cheek.

No one stands vigil.
Paul breathes in the shadows of dusk.
Night rotates the forest

and the mountain
back toward the clock-face sun.
Its cold light ricochets everywhere.

The stream works all shifts.
A big cat pads past him
being thirsty not hungry.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Himalayas

The wet lick of a damp tongue
left on your cheek glistens
a snail’s slow passage.

How did you not tumble
out of sleep as the shell
pulled you up out of the tide.

I mean the bright opals on your cheek
catch the dog’s eye
startled out of its color blindness.

Or you could call it pearlescent
if you prefer to describe it as luster
like a moon bean on the bucket’s raw metal.

Imagine the snail’s destination.
So important it decided
to cross the Himalayas of your bulk.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney