Opens Under Fire

Paul stands
in a hollow on a mountain.

The hollow does not allow him to view
the broad river valley below.

Most people climb mountains
to view far away things.

Paul hikes the mountain
for a closer look

at the trees and wildflowers
and rock that extends deep into the earth.

Some days he presses his face
into ponderosa pine trunks

to view the variations in bark
and catch a whiff of vanilla.

Other days he sits on a rock outcropping
in a high meadow where pikas live

and watches them become accustom
to his quiet sitting.

They grace him with their presence
and rodent antics.

This is his paradise.
His garden of eden.

He imagines God’s forbidden fruit
described as a pine cone.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Shattered Kind Of Sleep

Consciousness flickers
a black and white bird
from tree to tree.

Paul sinks to the ground
below a ponderosa
after staggering

a couple hundred yards
from his landing place
after a fall on granite.

Your sister comes to get you
repeats itself in his left ear
his right ear submerged in pine needles.

The ponderosa’s sap drips
There will be a tomorrow
upon his left cheek.

No one stands vigil.
Paul breathes in the shadows of dusk.
Night rotates the forest

and the mountain
back toward the clock-face sun.
Its cold light ricochets everywhere.

The stream works all shifts.
A big cat pads past him
being thirsty not hungry.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Forgetting to take care of yourself,
weeds have grown in your eyes:
your stare now wild and buzzing.

Since you cried, it is not surprising
I see cattails with red-winged blackbirds
when your eyes meet mine.

Your eyes are so overgrown
it is hard to see the sky from the angle I’ve taken
at the seat opposite yours in the cafe.

And when you blink the scene changes.
Always wild. Now ponderosa covered mountain slopes.
Now the cholla choked desert.

You suggest we take a break from civilization,
form our own Corp of Discovery,
a grand expedition to undiscovered states.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


For those of you who do not know, the Corp of Discovery was the title given to the group of men that formed the Lewis & Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase by President Thomas Jefferson.