So What

Paul swore he saw God
in fishnet stockings and stilletos
at drag queen amateur night.

I think he meant Odin
not a one-third representation
of the christian trinity.

There was no door
for Paul and Lori to kiss behind
so they did it in front of everybody.

That was around midnight
when the purveyors of pure capitalism
pushed congress to repeal the thirteenth amendment.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cup of Coffee

Fear me. I know we are all connected
and how to feel your weight.

The last time you tasted chocolate
you were an older child in Phoenix.

If only the miniature woman
played the grand piano

to liven up the doll house
with some ragtime.

It is okay that you liked to play with dolls
and preferred their lack of genitalia.

I know high school was murder on you
as parents forced you to strip away yourself

so you would fit their norms
even as a they embraced glam-rock and Bowie.

I am glad I met you here on the dock
before you joined the fishes

confident some oceanic voodoo
would give you space to breath.

Trust me. I believe I am the first person
who ever took the time to listen

to the unimaginable wringing
in your hands and ears.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Last Conversation

Years ago, Margo and I met
by the only window in the psych ward
and dreamed of eating Kung Pao chicken
in a little joint with red and white
checked tablecloths
that you normally find in Italian restaurants.

That same day in Milwaukee
Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested by police.

Margo told me she always wanted to be a writer
but her poor penmanship stopped her
from freeing into the world
all her personalities.

I promised when we got out
to purchase dozens of paper tablets
a fountain pen and a box of ink cartridges
so she could write.
I guaranteed her that her penmanship
would improve with all the pages.

She turned to me tears in eyes
and stated she lost who she was a moment ago.
We searched all night but Margo was not
on the ward anymore.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Firm Resolution

Even though Paul believed best is best
U.S. citizens usually disappointed him.

He petitioned the turtle union for membership
more as protest to the latest headlines
than an actual desire to withdraw into a shell.

Paul imagined a patch of Jasmines—
many girls standing together dressed in floral prints.

His UN letter passed under the radar
when he suggested wars be limited to host counties—
those that wanted to start the shooting and bombing.

Paul practiced the simple joys—one of which
was when the incoming tide first washed over his toes.

The tide liked Paul and his daily sand
so deposited a dozen plastic turtles at his feet
their features tumbled away.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

The 11th and 12th Corps’ Movement

Lori stands in the library
in a quiet row
among patient books.

She stares at a dusty book
its plastic yellowed
Railroads in the Civil War, by Clark.

She wonders who reads such topics.
Who writes such esoterica.
And decides no one and Clark.

Lori goes to a computer terminal.
She looks up the book’s history—
it has never been checked it out.

It arrived as new in two-thousand-one
and survived the periodic purges
to make room for something new.

She wonders if she checks it out
will that cause the librarians to notice it
and remove it from the stacks.

She wonders if it feels lonely
aches to held and read
or if it is happy avoiding the shredder.

Lori adds it on top
of her two reserved best sellers
that finally descended to her hold number.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Under a Palm He Reads

Paul kicked a ball.
It roll across the parking lot
toward the beach.

A woman banged
two cooking pans.
Seagulls took flight.

A man standing
in benediction pose
blessed the changing tide.

Paul kicked the ball
farther down the beach
past crushed beer cans.

The woman chased
sand pipers
and the seagulls returned.

The tide floated
eleven tossed wafers
and diluted the poured wine.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


I cannot sleep because I am tall.
Vibrant thinking shakes me awake.

Within twenty years I’ll be dead
with enough failures to make me wise.

I hope wisdom displays itself in my poems—
at least a few of them.

My old desk was too short
but had a drawer full of words I could draw from.

My new desk is the right height
but has no drawers.

Odd that digital clocks tick just as loud
as the Black Forest cuckoo clock in my childhood home.

I think of the world without me.
Nothing changes.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney