Bargaining

I was thirteen.
I was cast as a nineteen year old.

The casting director
was my thirteen year old friend who wanted beer.

I was cast
to walk into a liquor store and purchase a six pack.

He wanted Heineken.
We had just enough money for Red White & Blue.

Yes. Red White & Blue—
a brand of beer originally brewed by Pabst.

It was very patriotic.
It saw its best sales during World War Two.

It is a dead brand now.
Current Pabst executives consider resurrecting it, but don’t.

I was cast to be a nineteen year old
because I was six feet five inches tall at thirteen.

My friend was barely five-seven
in his stocking feet.

My friend thought I would do this bit of theater
for three of the six cans.

I did this bit of theater
for his Ron Santo autographed baseball.

The liquor store clerk
never looked high enough to see my young face.

My friend and I ran into contract difficulties
while making this a recurring role.

The next time he cast me to be nineteen,
I asked for his Ernie Banks autographed baseball card.

It would have been easier
to pry St. Peter’s bones away from the Pope.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Red White And Black

When cotton was king
a people was enslaved and declared subhuman.

When corn was king
the McCormick reaper freed a million men

to serve in the Armies of the Potomac,
Cumberland and Tennessee.

Southerners’ mental gymnastics
won all the the eighteen-sixty Olympic medals.

Hypocrisy recognized by a few
caused them to teach their slaves to read and write

for the importance to know the gospels,
to come to know Jesus and salvation.

Do not dismiss the bravery of this act.
In most southern states that was a capital offense.

Before the black man was brought to the Americas,
the red man was enslaved and worked to death.

Columbus promised Isabella and Ferdinand
boat loads of New World riches,

but found only one valuable commodity
in abundance to enrich Spain.

No one heeded the Pope
when he spoke out against this practice.

How shabby our collective Christianity.
How spartan our application of the golden rule.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Poetic license allows the Olympic medal to be awarded in 1860, when the modern Olympics did not start until 1896.

Documentation of the enslavement of Native Americans is in the book The Other Slavery, by Andrés Reséndez.

New Midnight Ritual

I wake from a dream.
It was not my dream.
A flock of snow geese dreamt me.

An owl swooped down
with the message scrolling from its beak
I am the savior of the world.

The owl ate me.
But I did not die.
I felt myself pressed into canvas.

Hieronymus Bosch added colors
with confident brush strokes.
He shaded dimensions on a lost Annunciation painting.

Words scroll from Gabriel’s mouth to Mary’s ear.
The pope and bishops sit at a table in the background,
knives and forks ready to parse the cooked goose.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney