You have to go really far back into the past
to discover the guy who invented War.

It could be it was created by committee
but I bet it was one guy.

It probably had something to do with a woman
but was not the woman’s fault.

His genetic fingerprint traces through the ages
up to present day Oregon

and some Fox Opinion watching militiaman
whose recent ancestors killed Indians

in the American west
on the land he now claims as his forever.

He smokes Marlboro cigarettes
because he has to wage war against his lungs

as well as the local sheriff
and the town’s parking ordinances.

He has thirty-seven outstanding parking tickets
with fines and late penalties over twenty-five hundred dollars.

If he could he would pin the tickets to his chest
like ribboned medals of valor.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


First day post school.
University graduation a blurry memory.
Father says you must pay room and board now.

Your windbreaker covers
your shirt and the top of your jeans.
Some wind sneaks down the back of your neck.

White tennis shoes cover
multi-colored wool socks.
Appropriate for a job interview?

No one beat down your door
to ask you to join their firm or think tank.
No class taught you to prepare a resume.

The sidewalk stretches
past retail establishments.
You are familiar with them having shopped at each.

You are overqualified for each Help Wanted
but you need six hundred dollars for rent
by the end of the week

or father will move your stuff to the curb
like throwing your six year old self into the lake
to teach you to swim.

Mother does not talk to you.
She swept you out the door four years ago.
And quickly again after each break.

University did not teach you
how to perform under this type of stress.
The Sword of Damocles was a story you read in lit.

The world did not seem so large yesterday.
Back to the paper mills as during summer break?
Or onward to a Masters and increasing student loan debts?

There is Horace Greeley’s advice.
Oregon territory or the desert southwest.
One hundred and eleven dollars and pocket change.

Flee the Midwest protestant work ethic?
No car. A Greyhound ticket would defer the struggle
ninety-six hours until arrival.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney