The other day I could swear
I saw my first car drive by.

It would be forty-two years old now.
Back then, I sold it as is.

As is included a crowded back seat
with a box of buckwheat cereal.
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
A jade plant in terracotta pot.
My softball spikes
glove, bat, and team t-shirt.
A past due library book on snakes.
Fourteen found puzzle pieces.
A leaded green telephone pole glass.
Two pennies.
Three nickels.
And seven dimes.

When I approached the car
I swore was my first car

all of that stuff remained in the back seat
but had been incorporated into a 3D diorama
of the da Vinci’s Last Supper
partially covered by a floral beach towel.

And the eighty-seven cents
had grown to three dollars and eighteen cents.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Time Out

Paul and Lori took a week apart.
They knew they would reassemble it later.

Each of them traveled light.
One carry-on piece of luggage each.

Both drove in different directions.
They switched directions to return home.

Each documented
the changing color of the highway.

Paul drove out of green-chili-cheeseburger country.
Lori left chocolate behind in the house.

They drove in search of an epiphany.
Rand McNally did not mark those as points of interest.

Both had the habit of stopping
at roadside historical markers.

Their tires never touched
an interstate highway.

They returned home at the same time
without the aid of GPS synchronicity.

They found the disassembled week
where they left it on the kitchen table.

Even though they were tired from their travels
they worked to midnight reassembling it.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Busboy Seventh Grade

My first book covered the topics
of everything everyone already knew.

It turned out
not everyone knew these things.

As a whole humanity knew this stuff
but not each individual person.

It was only common knowledge
to those of us who spoke English

to a sixth grade proficiency
and collected baseball cards.

This accomplishment did nothing
to resolve my crush on Billy’s mother

who wrote one haiku per day
with the word fuck in it.

She was especially attractive
eating Chinese food with chopsticks.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


An angel held Paul back.
This was not the kind of guarding
he believed a guardian angel provided.
He should have read the fine print.
The bully skated away scot-free.
The bully was a nun in a habit.
She skated on a rink not a river.
What goes around comes around.

Paul wondered if bully nuns
had guardian angels.
He did not believe the saying
the clothes make the man—
in this case the habit
makes the nun.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Response in Silence

Paul spoke to me through a walky-talky
while he sat on a stone some distance away.

He told me he watched pigs eat
in a farm documentary

and felt his father’s summation
He eats like a pig was inaccurate.

I thought Paul ate like a wildebeest and said so
but forgot to depress the talk-button.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


For the seventh cavalry
the turnpike to heaven
passes Muskogee
and the parade of coffins
look like soapbox derby racers
a little short on paint.

Charon operates
the tollbooth
for the bridge span
over the Arkansas River
to finance a meeting hall
in a retired steamboat
for all the soldiers’ widows
in a state of mental imbalance
due to loneliness.

Four of those women
play Mozart and Bach
as a string quartet
from sheet music
on the front bow of the ship
near where new women
join the floating refuge
from brass bugle calls
written by Dan Butterfield.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wall Street

A raccoon dines in candle light.
It eats corn on the cob rotated in its two hands.

Its nose and whiskers are greased with butter.
Salt grains decorate the kernels.

What in the dark I took as
the raccoon’s gigantic balls

are two dark grey rubber balls
that were thrown in to the trash by an unknown.

The raccoon is the center of my attention
until it wonders off

out of the kerosene lamp light
and away with an old New York Times

tucked under one arm
so it may check its retirement investments.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Half Asleep from a Late Afternoon Nap

A long gray strand of God’s hair
snakes across the dining room table
out of the chicken casserole.

A portrait of Sequoia sits on the fireplace mantel
with his alphabet inscribed as a paper frame
within the wooden frame.

A bee that inadvertently flew into the house
now bangs all his buzz
on the picture window viewing the terraced garden.

The gray strand of hair is twenty-two feet long
that is why I ascribe it to God
and not grandfather or grandmother.

My Apple computer products
contain the Cherokee font package
as I begin to learn Sequoia’s native language.

I open the door then use my hand against the window
to guide the bee to freedom and home
only to let four flies in.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Spinning Snake Sky to Ground

The deepest part of myself
is far shallower than the pacific ocean.

You will hear no wing flaps
because I never dream of flying.

Struggle smells like salty sweat
and sours as bacteria thrives in the wetness.

I am my own monster
hatched from horrifying childhood experiences.

My sixth sense causes me to zero in on
all the road kill along US highways.

By the time I reach the Texas border
I am melancholy.

By the time I reach the Oklahoma border
I root for every tornado.

I find solace in those things humans fail to control.
I find them irresistible.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


In the movie about that dad
who pushes his kids too hard.
He pushes those people
who exploit his kids’s
status as phenoms
just as hard.

I will leave it to you to guess
if the movies shows the kids
playing on grass
playing on a chalk marked field
playing on concrete.

I will leave it to you to guess
if it is a father-son movie
or a father-daughter movie
or if the featured kid
is gay, straight or trans.

I will leave it to you to guess
what type and shape of ball
the kids were phenomenal at playing.
Or if their genius set game pieces
on a checkered board.

I will tell you that no animals
were injured in the making
of this movie.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney