Stewed

Alphabet soup is served.
A long line files past the stainless steel pot with ladle.

Mostly misfit military men and women
secret stomach twisting ghosts in their guts.

Fatigues in various shades of faded
sit at tables butted end to end.

During the blessing
each soup bowl spells out a prayer.

Vegetable broth vapors rise
to cloud faces and steam glasses.

Some attendants
eat with a fork one letter at a time.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Mist Enshawled

There is a Muslim in Pakistan
who I’ve never met,
never seen on TV,
never imagined
before this moment.

His left foot shifts with his weight
while standing in a boat.

His right foot depresses the sand
at the outgoing tide’s tug.

His nets are mended and the fog
disperses as the wind rises.

My mind holds this moment,
slows it down, while I insert
a prayer for his safety on the sea,
a prayer that calms his loving wife
who worries, a prayer for his young
sons and daughters
who require his hard work.

I do not know why I pray for him,
but I do so, earnestly.

Half a world away an oarsman
pulls his small craft into the unsteady sea,

sets sail and fishes so his family may eat,
so a few small coins may provide.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lights Go Out

On a bedstand
a sprig of lavender dries

over a photo of Father
wearing one of his rare smiles.

A curtain of song
darkens a quartet of windows.

Liberated,
Lori’s hair falls past her shoulders.

From another room,
the news describes the violence

of the ignored
refusing to be the ignored any longer.

She whispers a prayer
for the protesters and law enforcement.

The sky reddens.
She fears the phone may ring.

She settles into her bed.
A block of ice.

The lavender scent
flashes images of her very first dog.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Let Go

When I pray
I forget to add my name
to the long list
of people
I know and knew
for the eternal
to open
their eyes
to universal
joy.

Who am I
to forget myself
so.

My mirror image
sees out
of the looking glass
at the sinking weight
of what
I cannot
let go.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney