Indigo

A woman with seven daughters
and no husband
lives down by the sea
on a windswept island
bare of trees.

Her old house was built
on the sea side
and took the full force
of each storm
and the salt carried
from the waves.

The house was once
a church where slaves
congregated back before
storm tossed tides
washed free the island
from the land.

The woman did her best
to preserve the prints of hands
that made the dyestuff indigo
and listened to the seashells’ whispers
for those people’s stories.

Her seven daughters
swim so well at school
that the towns people
claim they have gills
and the sea salt
that dries on their skin
are scales.

The woman’s favorite time
is when the sky blooms with rain
so she may watch droplets
splash to waves
in some nautical
native tongue.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Godzilla

We sat on the beach.
The tide licked our feet.
Our arms set slightly behind us
propped us upright.
We sat close enough
to converse—not touch.
We listened.

The waves drew off anxiety
as they receded
to gather themselves
for another go
at splashing our knees.

An unattended dog
investigated us
She sniffed our salt-spay skin
then attempted to burrow
her head under my arm
then your arm.

The dog moved on
to children up the beach—
Godzilla to their sandcastle.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Rise

The ocean rose during the night.
More than high tide.
More than storm tossed.

It flowed through the first floors
of beach front houses
and unintentionally set two on fire.

It took wharf planks out to sea
for wayward gulls to land on
and curious dolphins to nudge.

The ocean went back down by morning
but left salty puddles
where the depressed land kept souvenirs.

An attempt to get over a little hump.
A new stretching practice.
Like Yoga. But for oceans.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pestered

I was bathed
by the tidal rush.

As the water troughed
between waves

something
clung to my hair.

My eyes
refused to look

at what my hand
felt damply

in case it was
a star

fallen elsewhere
into the sea

and just now
washed

upon my head
mistakenly

believing I was
an astronomer

and knew its place
back in the

heavens
day or night.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Metaphor Taken Literally

Paul decides
he is more dust than ash.

Even with this declaration,
he remains mostly ocean.

Some days he is intimidated
by absences.

He places those voids
in a closed-off room

behind a red door
with a Gone Fishing sign.

This past week the world
scrutinized Paul for one news cycle

via more social and mass media
than he was accustomed to.

Because, in a poem he posted to a blog
Paul took on all the blame

for the third of the four years
of the Trump Administration.

It is so raucous under the microscope!
Their pens scratch baseline notes.

Arising, Paul bumps his head
on its glass ceiling.

See! Dust. Just like the dry scrapings
of an archeologist

around an uncovered artifact,
a carved figure of unknown origin.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Penguins

I see the ocean surround me
everywhere I go.

I live on the mountain
and in deep salty waters.

There are birds that fly
both mountain air and the ocean.

Do not swat at the things that bother you
or you may break their wings.

Sometime last year I realized
my heartbeat powers the tide.

I feel I should have naturally
sensed that rhythm

and recognized it
shortly after I was born.

Maybe puberty pushed it
out of my awareness.

I placed my hand on my heart
to regulate the tides

and alter the moon’s effect
on my love life.

I removed
a rib by mistake

and broke it into a quintuplet
set of Eves—

all penguins swimming
near the tree line.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Gulls And Fishes

Dora drains the ocean
with her fountain pen
and a page thirsting for blue ink.

She thought to write an epic poem,
but her haiku contains so much more
with so much less.

Dora masters storms and strong tides,
but fails the calm
for her patron gulls and fishes.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tangled With Kelp

My sleep is a long line of unconnected sentences
mismatched to dream images,
pushed forth by an idle, small-case god
attempting to prevent teeth from grinding
some not-forgotten, full-color shame
that fattened itself on my sugary silence,
while maintaining righteous illusions
found in Sunday meetinghouse glasswork,
based on blurry wisdom
inside a bible recently arrived
from across the salty ocean’s incoming tide.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney