America’s Game

This poem does not contain a baseball
whether professional grade, softball,
or that peculiar Chicago oversized softball.

If it did contain a baseball,
the poem would center on my childhood dreams
of playing outfield for the Cubs.

Since this poem is not about baseball,
I could make it about race relations in New Mexico
outside of the Isotopes and city leagues.

I could make about the first girl I fell for,
but she played fast pitch softball
and often struck me out during coed leagues.

I could make this poem about the pandemic
and the incompetent federal response
and the heroic efforts by the front line workers,

but that would bring me back to baseball
and negotiations between players and owners
on how to split up billions and billions of dollars

when I think they should donate all their net revenue
to support baseball fans who lost their jobs
due to the shutdowns.

Everyone would become a baseball supporter
under that monetary incentive.
Baseball would be America’s Game again.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Agency

Jesus was rummaging around
looking for a stray sock
checking all his shirts,
his sheets, the towels,
inside the legs of folded blue jeans
in the drawer.

It was important he find it.
He felt immortal only in this pair of socks.
He was not up to a three-way FaceTime
with the other two Holy Trinity members
without that particular woolen pair
covering his feet.

Jesus was pretty sure
a new time on earth was about to be ordered.
It would not be the overall second,
but the thirty-second time since the last pandemic.
Usually it was to take his place
along side the Doctors Without Borders.

He guessed which hotspot
would be his destination.
His calculations placed him
at an Indian Health Services Agency
on the Navajo Reservation
in the northwest corner of New Mexico.

Jesus found the sock
on the laundry room floor
where it must have fallen off
the basket edge where it hung to air dry
just as the instructions
on the packaging recommended.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Asked Out On A Date

I will give you one hundred dollars.
There are no strings attached.
There are no loose threads.
There is a federal monetary security thread.

You do not get a choice of denomination.
I will give you one hundred one dollar bills.
Each bill is defaced with a ball point pen’s ink.
A single line of free verse poetry.

You may create your own poem
by placing the bills in a new order.
You may create thirty-three haiku
if you are not picky about syllable count.

But you must read a poem
each time you count out the dollar bills
to pay for a fast food lunch
or a small purchase at the corner store.

There you would be reciting poetry in public
to the astonishment of the listeners.
You might suffer some blow back and cat calls.
You might get asked out on a date.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

In A Way That Will Change Him

At Rockford University,
in an upstairs lounge,
a poetry reading takes place.

The poet ignores the itch
upon the bridge of his nose
and forces his right hand down.

His words echo off the walls.
They jump on the couch with orange cushions.
They rock the lampshades.

There are no bodies to absorb
the report of his strident voice.
No ears to take in his pastoral descriptions.

This is not practice.
This is not a man in love with his own voice.
You cannot see his poems are a tool for letting go.

How each word tethers a time and event
and releases little pieces of the trenches
outside of Petersburg into the air.

But it is his descriptions of Appomattox
with its surrounding farm fields on rolling hills,
its oak and hickory stands

that he focuses on in his search for peace.
An inner peace where the wars that divide him
come to a gracious and generous close.

As his eyes move as if the room were full,
he catches sight of several mourning doves,
landing on an oak branch outside the window.

He takes this as a sign
and lets his voice dwindle and settle
onto the polished floorboards.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tipping Point

The kids twist
their angelic faces
into demonic grins,
then shriek
and run around
the old cottonwood
with the motionless swing
suspended by ropes.

The dog lopes after them.
Herds them
in accordance
with its breading,
but the kids
possess no herd instinct.

Still screaming,
the kids all fall down
as if at the command
of an unspoken
nursery rhyme.

A plastic bag
accompanies two tumbleweeds
that bump up
against the grayed fence
in need of paint
or varnish
and other work
I may get to next year.

From the porch
sitting on the glider,
the kids’ excitement and play,
though annoying and loud,
are the outcome of their world
where there is little to fear.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Comic Books

Some folks
butcher the bible
into palatable chunks
and cook it
so it is easy to chew
after a course
of antidepressants,
hot dogs, apple pie
and high fructose
corn syrup
infused colas,
oblivious
that their bottled
spring water
was shipped
from half way
around the world.

The late night
televangelist
with an amen-chorus
stews psalms
on an open hearth
with a shimmering
saguaro desert
behind a billboard
explaining
why you cannot
purchase
bathrobes
with food stamps.

All the time
neighbors
turn the other cheek
until they
one-eighty
their positions
on solstice boogymen,
volcanic minimalism
and the heroes
of under-the-covers
flashlight comic books.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney