First Snow

I woke around midnight
with the realization
I forgot to brush my teeth.

I tasted cabbage
in the form of sauerkraut
between my teeth.

Why could I not taste
the grilled red onions
or the mustard laden bratwurst?

I thought I had to floss
with cabbage stuck
where the brush could not pry it loose.

So I walked to the coffee table
and pulled a length of floss
out of a dispenser

but instead of sitting down
to watch late night television
I looked out the window.

In the street light
I saw the first snow of the year
fall to muffle the ground

form tufts upon the cholla
where the thrasher slept
without dreams of human oral hygiene.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

No One Does Night

No one does night
as well as the night.

Which of us could hold
so many stars?

Especially the star
we call the sun.

I contain multitudes
is simply a good start.

We are not so large
to understand our emptiness

and how vital that emptiness is
for each point of light.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Promise Beyond its Expiration Date

Down river
three pelicans
glided above
the dry riverbed.

I threw seeds
into the sky
to plant
new stars.

The next county over
the dunking chair
for witch trials.

I crushed obsidian
into powder
and made a paste
to repair the night.

To fly in my dreams
I slept
on a crow’s
fallen feather.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Counted Three Satellites

We walked into the forest.
So little moon we required a flashlight.
We walked with care.
Fireflies tucked themselves away.
One moth fluttered around the beam.
It was two slow miles to the clearing.
We sat on old cedar trunks the loggers left.
You looked at the darkness around your feet.
I turned off the flashlight eyes closed.
We counted in unison to three.
We looked up to the undiminished heavens.
The sky was ripe with stars.
The night was not dark at all.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


I came across a long array
of people moving through the darkened woods
as snow pelted bough and face.

They did not stop to eat or light a fire for warmth
but kept moving, yet not tripping
on their long scarves that dangled to their feet.

They gathered around a large rock
with hands outstretched
as if warming fingers near a hearth.

And there they slept till dawn
in circles around the stone
and snored like birds in song.

I tiptoed among them and observed
not a single pack with clothes or food.
Not a child carrying a cherished toy.

I watched as the snow
layered blankets upon them
and wondered if they would rise with the sun.

When the night turned darkest before the dawn
they rose as one and shuffled off
to where one tree set distant lights upon its trunk.

They entered the tree one by one
as if passing through a door.
I stood alone among the oaks.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Eyes Closing

Night tends the stove,
chars the hours.

We eat it like licorice,
black lips and tongues.

A distant sun, not our sun,
goes dark in the blink of an eye.

We debate if it was ever there
or an idea that fell out of our heads.

If black is the color of mourning,
so night is its time.

Like children we tick off finger tips
as we recite those things we mourn,

though neither one of us
comes close to tears.

As silence comfortably darkens the room,
we slump into each other.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Expectation Met

I am a star falling.
The night sky refuses to catch me.
The moon refuses to catch me.

Please lift your eyes from the ground.
I need you to catch me.
Your eyes predict my arc of descent.

I ask that you employ courage.
I am made of fire.
Please hug me to your chest.

When you feel the bump and burn,
press me past skin and bone.
I glow inside you.

This merger is beyond your imagination.
Nothing explains it.
You feel our oneness.

As you glow from inside
your friends see and they ask
if you are a promise delivered.

You know love.
Its pain. Its joy.
Your eyes never close again.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


From an old faded
purple velvet
Crown Royal bag,
Dora draws Night out
and unfolds it.
For a few minutes
she spins it
on her raised fist,
then tosses it
high into the sky
and canopies
the earth with stars
to a depth unseen
and unfelt in daylight.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney