Paul walked home after happy hour.
He left his stumble inside his corner bar.

He practiced lying down
in the chalk outlines left by the police.

Inspiration told him this act
would give him empathy for the victim

and a sense of the burning pain
in muscles when a bullet passes through.

He also thought of it as practice
at rising from the dead—

a skill to be used at a future date
when it was his turn

to have unflattering portraits
snapped by the crime scene photographer.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wikipedia on Weegee


On the street a torn backpack
spills its belongings.

Not far away a bicycle
bent at odd angles awaits scavengers.

The body of a man with six days beard growth
is gone with sirens, fading as they get distant.

A stream of laughter flows off the sidewalk
from a student gaggle across the street.

Able to set concern aside
the high school track meet proceeds.

A policeman stands erect
at the starter’s pistol initiation of the hundred yard dash.

Involuntarily the policeman places his hand
on his service revolver.

He collects deodorant, toothpaste
and a toothbrush from the street.

And white socks too clean
to suffer from long term homelessness.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


You were under
cardiac arrest
and the police
shot you
seven times
for being
and unresponsive
to their questions.

Their diagnosis
and treatment
judged your
condition solely
through their eyes
and measured
their level of fear
first and foremost.

The report
given to
the local news
stated you died
while trying
to escape.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dear Police Officer

I am sorry
you are just
a badge number
in city hall’s

If only
your blue uniform
hearkened back
to the Civil War
when that color
meant freedom
from the oppression
of slavery.

Please keep
in mind
your body cam
is to capture
the truth
of an encounter
not you
drawing your
hand gun
as a first option
when other
remain unexplored.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Boil Over

When the police killed—
there are too many names—
none of the bullets
turned me into collateral damage.

As a white man I do not fear police actions.
I fear the unintended consequence of police actions.

For each young man gunned down
with too many shots fired,
how many of those shots flew wide or high
and thudded into buildings
or crashed through windows
or careened recklessly down alleys and streets?

New Mexico is an open carry state.
So many untrained gun handlers boldly packing.
So much heat on a blistering patriotic July day
where tempers simmer and easily boil over.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney