Paul walked home after happy hour.
He left his stumble inside his corner bar.

He practiced lying down
in the chalk outlines left by the police.

Inspiration told him this act
would give him empathy for the victim

and a sense of the burning pain
in muscles when a bullet passes through.

He also thought of it as practice
at rising from the dead—

a skill to be used at a future date
when it was his turn

to have unflattering portraits
snapped by the crime scene photographer.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wikipedia on Weegee


The photographer
repositioned the body
of the soldier
to make the composition
more dramatic.

He knew a distorted truth
sold better than
the naked truth
unless the naked truth
was a naked lady.
But that was not gentlemanly
or a proper subject.

The photographer
knew the truth
was already distorted
since burial parties
removed most of the bodies
to place them side by side
in long trenches
with no markers.

This poor fellow
was oddly preserved.
Not bloated or blue-skinned.
The photographer guessed
the man died during the night
after his late arrival—
died an agonizing two days
after the fighting ended
and the armies withdrew.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Remainder Of The Day

In sepia
a photograph
a girl dressed in
Victorian garb
mid yawn.

It captured
blur as well
since period cameras
had long

A thumbtack
holds the photo
to a corkboard.
Three other holes
dot the top edge
of the paper.

Written in cursive script
by a person
with excellent penmanship
is the line
Lily Powell in the parlor.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Honor System

Two rust laden wrought iron gargoyles flanked the gate.
They watched traffic pass on the street.
Cobwebs stranded flies between fence rods.
Paul entered cautiously.
Faded on top, a red ball remained motionless.
The knee high grass hopped with locusts.
A woman, white as a ghost, watched from the window.
Her limp hair even paler than her skin.

A photo series hung from a clothes line by wooden pins.
Black and white nineteen-forties film stars at leisure.
Often at home without make up.
The sign stated, Newly printed from original negatives.
On the table sat a locked metal box with a slot.
Hand scrawled in marker $50 each.
A box of white cotton gloves sat next to the cashbox.
Paul pulled on a pair to examine his childhood heroes.
He thought how easy it would be to pilfer the set.
A grating sound rounded upon him.
He glanced to see the gargoyles now looking in his direction.

Paul slid a greenback U.S. Grant in the slot.
He exited with John Wayne.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


His reputation
came from photographing
children at play
in parks, pastures, windows
and school yards.
Or at work
on farms with animals.

He did so from a distance
with a professional grade zoom lens.
Odd angles illustrated
the difficulty of remaining unseen,
thus the observer
not influencing the observed.

It was rumored he planned
to build blinds
like nature photographers
but the children
are not so innocent
to misinterpret
new structures.

He preferred places
off the grid
in first world nations
whether the lack of electricity
and running water
was geographic, political
or extreme poverty.

His photos exposed
blameless lives
at rest and at play,
making the best
of circumstances
with indomitable

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney