Dreamt He Was Not Dreaming

Paul placed grief in the cedar chest
so it would be fresh
for the next friend who passed away.

He thought of washing his grief
before storing it.
He wished to hang it

on the crescent moon to air dry
but he might lose it
when an owl flew by.

Paul awoke at night
hearing an owl call from a branch
outside his bedroom window.

In the morning he opened
the cedar chest
to double check his grief was still there.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Back Home on a Shelf

Paul sat writing haiku
wreathed in mist
among the cedars.

His haiku
were little poems
avoiding convention.

His dog Whisper
snuffled about
interested in a stray wine glass.

Paul decided
the fluted glass
was meant for champagne.

He imagined
forest mice getting drunk
on its contents.

Tipsy mice
vanish quickly
in owl talons.

Whisper licked
pine needles coated
with flattened bubbles.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Hundred Hues

The world reassembled itself.
It had not really fallen apart.
Bethany’s perception of it fractured
in the glint of the storage unit’s
razor wire.

Only a guest in the hidden chapel,
the light through the stained glass
worked better for her
than Christ upon the cross
with his decorative piercings.

Bethany sharpened her sense
of broken-down-in-urban-America
so the pieces fit properly.
No light shined through rough edges.
No cold winds pressed bare skin.

She relaxed into herself
as if lying on a pile of raked leaves
with the smoke of other piles
thick in the air before cities
banned such fiery rehearsals.

Bethany heard the song of the world
and how flat and out of rhythm
her life-notes were within it.
And the counter melody
of the long scars upon her body—

her repeated dash in the buff
through a thorn bush thicket
thinking she could embody
the Christ’s thorny crown
under the watchful eyes of owls.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ripped

A woman I just met
before we exchanged names
asked me to change into an owl
and leap into the evening sky
with only a two step start.
Not one to turn down a challenge
I set my sights to flight,
took two steps and leapt
with arms flapping.
I failed to convince the wind
to afford me a grace period
of gravity defiance.
I fell to the ground
and skinned my knee
when I landed off-kilter
in the diminished light.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney