Paul Juggled Halal and Kosher

He examined them for differences
as they spun through the air before his face.

Part of his kitchen trick was to then insert
keto and vegan into the rotating circle.

It is not like his hands could tell his tongue
the differences in spiritual weight

or if God actually infused such meanings
into the preparation of food.

It is hard to say what conditions took place
to form these popular movements when they took hold.

He wondered if each word represented
a form of monetary interest garnered by the founders.

Preparing food to fit a prescribed set of limitations
felt like prayer to his hands

as he added a little turmeric and saffron
to the olive oil in the heating pan.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Softship

It appears to the naked eye
that all religions are self defeating.

Loving people is as painful
as the doctor’s stinging slap

across a baby’s bottom
so the child breathes, thus lives.

I never prayed in church
because there was too much static.

Prayer is an act of listening
not asking to be delivered from pain.

I listened to the pain love caused
and determined a path forward.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Ubiquitous

All summer Paul drifted in and out of shade.
His inconstant blue was not the color of sky.

Each day the people he encountered
spoke of a new shooting in a grocery, school or church.

His patience with congress wore thin
thus exposing his anger.

He hid his anger by walking miles each day
in the distraction of stadium lights.

Then Uvalde, Texas took place
and his anger grew too large to hide.

Paul wrote emails and letters to his congress person.
He left as many as twelve phone messages a day.

He knew he wished to punch
a second amendment braggart in the face

so he avoided bars and the parts of the ballpark
that served beer and margaritas.

For the first time since university
he entered a church so he may pray with others.

He noticed their fear at his unfamiliar face.
He removed himself from their nervousness.

He removed himself to the woods
where he would listen to God in a stand of trees.

As he listened to all vectors of God’s voice entering him
he noticed three tree trunks lodged bullets.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

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