Anguish of Unmet Expectations

Dora labors to turn newspaper pages.
Not aging. Or illness.

It is the news
that weighs upon her hand and arm.

Without the benefit of building muscle
as she turns through politics to sports.

Even when she listens to podcasts
they so often fill the air with heavy words

that the weight carried in implications and portents
settles deep in her lungs

and clogs her ears with depressed speculation
and what ifs.

It is as if our American society is an organism
about to self divide to form two.

Such is the movement away from union.
Pushed by lies like a century and a half ago.

Different lies, but lies all the same.
And passions lit like bonfires

with effigies of the opposition
and dirty tricks turned in the cast shadows.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The latest newspaper
sits on Paul’s breakfast table.

Its headline is blank.
All the stories are below the fold.

Now that it is here
this dreamed of day shakes him.

He never expected to be frightened
by the blank page.

But there it is. No news
is not good news it seems.

The stories below the fold
are so saccharine

that Paul quits reading each story
after a few lines.

What happened to the world he knew?
How will his type-A behavior be interpreted now?

Can this still be America
without a gruesome headline

to evoke our chosen and embraced
Darwinian socio-economic struggles?

At least his blueberry scone remains constant.
But, his coffee is now black tea.

And he wears a wool suit on Saturday.
This is all too civilized.

Where are his murderers and rapists?
Why is he hearing castanets instead of gunfire?

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Rocky Road

My cereal bowl
was shaped from a TV’s flat screen.

This translucent bowl
displays newspaper headlines and video clips.

Only the news. The real news.
It edits out the gossip and fake stuff for me.

I have sugar-coated the news through my cereal
almost every day.

It is odd reading the news
through milk, Captain Crunch and papaya pieces.

When I use my cereal bowl for ice cream
Rachel Maddow comes on.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

A Black Yell

A black yell
too weak to block the snowfall
kept you up late,
feeling nowhere
under your bed sheets
and blankets.

Your cold hands felt good
against the heat of my hands.
So opposite our normal.
Fingertips caked in charcoal
left identifying prints on me.

We knew the black yell
came out of watching the news.
But you refused to quit Maddow,
compared that to turning
into an ostrich cartoon,
head stuck in sand
with blacked-out speech balloon.

Your shoes’ tongues
spoke a manifesto
against asphalt and double yellow lines
in preference of buffalo grass,
sagebrush, rabbitbrush and sandy arroyos.

The snowfall gave up
blocking out the void and the stars.
You chose to fit yourself
into the pocket of my sleep,
nested in the bright blue vest
of Peter Rabbit at my bed stand.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney