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

Unrepentant

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
spirits.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney