Among Cedars

Dora stands among cedars.
Snow falls.

Too sentimental.
Too beautiful

to become a poem
today.

A cargo ship in Puget Sound
passes behind her.

The city skyline
takes shape across the water.

It intrudes on the island.
Dora looks past it to the Cascades.

The passenger ferry intrudes as well.
Its port is several miles north.

We have hours.
It is best when

we stand together
among cedars

and the world melts away
under falling snow.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Upstream

She wrapped
aluminum foil
around my head.

My mental static
did not go away
as promised.

She blamed me
for being unreceptive
to her personality.

I thought
another bottle of merlot
won’t save this evening.

Even though
the wine was served in paper cups
and accompanied

a veggie pizza
served on stiff paper plates
that absorb the oils.

A photo
of the Columbia River Gorge
hung on her wall

displaying salmon
leaping through
the rapids.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

A Dark Body of Clouds

A dark body of clouds enters my brain.
It is a line from a poem.
It is a covid fog slowing my thoughts.

It is not I who caught covid, but Cathryn.
Being my friend, I share her burden.
This dark body of clouds.

Happily it does not cause dark thoughts.
The fog causes people to think she is a ditz.
In this shared existence I am thought a ditz as well.

The darkness is how cruel people can be
when their expectations go unmet.
Thunder voices hurl insults at our covid slowness.

We could hurl insults back at their ignorance.
We could hurl stick or stones.
In tandem we remain silent.

If we could find ninety-eight more people
to share Cathryn’s burden
each of us would carry one-percent fog.

Thus disperse the dark body of clouds
back into a line of poetry.
Oh darn. I cannot think of the poet’s name.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

The poet whose name I covid-fog do not remember in the last line of the poem is Mary Ruefle. The title is a variation from her poem title “Darke Body of Clowds”. It is found in her book “Indeed I Was Please With The World“.

I do hope you (dear readers) have gotten your covid-19 vaccinations. Cathryn is one friend who has long haul covid difficulties. Over the past 15 months several acquaintances passed away from the attack of the virus upon their bodies. So I hope you take the virus seriously.

Jack Palance

You remind me
I was sixteen once.
Tall enough I was mistaken for a man.
Not old enough to grow a mustache shadow.

Everyday I ventured out into the world.
The world barely noticed me.
I climbed mountains.
I climbed stairs in my five story high school.

We read Steven Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage.
I took it as an instruction manual.
It taught me to accept my trepidations.
And that I would conquer my nerves with experience.

Being about war it taught little about Kindness.
It taught me little about geography as well.
Was it important to learn the location of Beijing?
I bet clocks tick there at the same speed as here.

My first date that ended with a kiss happened at eighteen.
So I cannot help you with dating at sixteen.
Your slender awkwardness has its own charm.
Breathing normally is important.

An old aftershave commercial taught me Confidence is Sexy.
Go from nervous to confident by experiencing dating.
I think that was Jack Palance in the commercial.
You were born the day he died.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Couched

It was too late for Paul.
Too many beers to drive safely back home.

Being too late, his relationship might end.
But his relationship’s trouble was why he drank.

If the cantina had not been too busy
the bartender might have listened to him vent.

In that case he might have drunk less
and been home at a reasonable time.

In time for an argument about the beer on his breath
and her contention David Bowie

was the greatest rocker of all time.
A designation he gave to Led Zeppelin.

He loved arguing this type of personal truth
when he was twenty-something.

Now he felt all these debates should be settled
since social media was readily available

and ranked choice voting applied
to determine the greatest rocker once and for all.

Paul kept his keys in his pocket
and pulled out his smart phone for a Lyft.

He went outside to wait
afraid he would not notice the arrival notification

over the brassy mariachi band
and lovely Latin girls dancing skirts aswirl.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Middling

The last time I flew to the moon
my feet remained grounded in Albuquerque.

I thought I would be the first to visit the lunar surface
but there were foot prints in the dirt

that looked like Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers had danced there.

I’ve seen those steps in nineteen fifty’s
home dance lesson kits with numbered footprints.

Now you know I am talking about the past
before Mark McGwire’s prodigious home run seasons.

Before. Neil Armstrong and the Apollo Eleven mission.
Before Jackie Gleason and Alice.

I was five years old and my conscious mind
did not prevent me from doing things I thought possible.

I hate that I am now limited by reality
as taught to me through university and peer pressure.

If you need me I’ll be seated halfway down the staircase
Not at the bottom. Not at the top.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Other

She was sometimes happy and sometimes sad.
She seemed religious in the vein of Vivien, the Lady of the Lake.

She tended to follow mother ducks on land.
She disliked and refused to use the words Fairy and Nymph.

Her gaze turned men to stone
only as long as both their eyes met.

Her gaze ignited woman to fire
in a manner that burned their spirits brighter into the world.

She lead the worst kind of men into the lake.
This journey did not go well for them, especially when drunk.

She lead the best kind of women to the shore
before the transition to the Other Wind.

One evening catching fireflies in a jar
I captured her as she waded into the intermittent glow.

I kept the fireflies prisoner long enough to write a poem.
She was not in that poem, but this one.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pop Quiz

When fish swim in the dark
do they bump into things?

Why are the Swiss the only nation with an army knife
when all nations have armies?

When an influencer receives more likes than New York City
is that influencer a media center?

Why do so many people show up to Happy Hour
and spill their sadness all over the bar?

How does burning sage and spreading its oil-smudged smoke
cleanse a room or any other location?

Am I old enough that when I behave like an idiot
people will believe I am simply confused?

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Field Mice Join Us During the Drought

All the hamsters coupled up.
A population explosion ensued.

See them gnaw on radishes.
See their halos tipped just a little to the right.

There are no fights yet due to scarcity.
We can afford to keep food plentiful

for another generation or two
if we never compost leafy greens.

The hamsters take turns at the water bottle.
Refilling it twice a day instead of once is doable.

Maybe we can extend the Habitrail
so one tube sticks out the old dryer vent

into the side yard where we let the grass
grow tall and go to seed?

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not Available at Lowes’ Garden Department

Dianne and I grow good omens
in our garden.

Admittedly she does most of the work.
I spread the manure.

We cut bouquets to give to our friends
when they fear dying.

Or when they invite the four riders of the apocalypse
to gallop through their living room.

God admonishes us for giving away
the beautiful blooms

before the bees finish pollinating
and the good omens go to seed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney