Deluge Got Me Thinking

Dallas is so underwater.
Fifteen inches of rain in twenty-four hours.

I hope the art survived
dry and temperature controlled in museums.

And that joint you told me about
with the good pastrami sandwich and pickles.

Really. All I know of Dallas
is the airport hub and jetting off to somewhere else.

One day I will have to visit the concrete and glass
to learn what makes it beautiful on the inside

instead of luxuriating in the natural beauty
of my sparsely populated New Mexico.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Apart from Myself

The five of us stood together
in front of our house
and watched the rain runoff
rise out of the gutter
and over the yard.

Those few out driving in this deluge
see me drenched with shadowy bodyguards
that no enemy is willing to approach—
not even the lightning
as the thunder reverberates over the block.

I am not a young man anymore
according to tradition and census
but this corralling empty trash bins
swept away from their homes
by the runoff tickles my fancy.

On the depressed playground
of the corner elementary school
a pool forms at least three feet deep
as someone young in a yellow slicker
hangs upside down on the jungle gym.

The four other aspects of myself
soaked head to toe
washed free of swagger
go back inside while I fish
a Barbie doll out of the gutter’s current.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


We prayed for rain.
We danced for rain.

We sacrificed cheeseburgers for rain.
We drank beer for rain.

We sang rain songs.
We dressed up like little rain clouds.

Rain got the message.
Rain clouds gathered cousins from all around the world.

Rain arrived at two-seventeen on Wednesday.
Rain fell upon us in earnest.

We never saw rain like that before.
No roof kept the rain out.

No arroyo or river kept the rain in their banks.
Rain flooded the Catholic churches.

It flooded the Protestant churches too.
And the synagogues and mosques.

It was a good baptist rain
that insisted upon full immersion.

The Rio Grande flood plain
lived up to its name.

The rain washed buildings off the foothills
and down to the river.

The flood moved Albuquerque south
past Los Lunas and Belen.

The rain rained itself out by nine twenty-two.
The moon shone down on millions

of Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Be’s.
It glinted off droplets hung on bent and dinged serifs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Unused Floodplain

When the Rio Grande enters El Paso
it changes from a simple river
to an international boundary
with a lot of rules.

It is not like the up stream Rio Grande
does not know rules, since it does.
But up stream rules control usage
not crossings.

After seventy-seven days without measurable rain
the river looked to be in poor health
and able to be crossed
with a hop skip and jump.

Monsoon season arrived seventeen June.
Rain fell up and down the central valley
creating feeder streams
from sandy arroyos and concrete ditches.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Sewage bubbled up in the sink.
Rain swelled the stars.
You sailed against the current ’til it turned you.

Eden’s broken snake road a pennant.
The black water surged over a stripped body.
You grounded upon a submerged dump truck.

Was this destruction a great disaster
or a heavenly cleansing?
You wandered into the village church.

Only the priest prayed.
Everyone else was too cold and weary to speak.
You leaned against a wall.

Under a stain glass parable
the wind roared through gaps in the leading.
You heard the church bell toll un-pulled.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lori Carried Antlers

Some days the sky requires piercing
and a twist to gut it so rain falls.

Other days the antlers must be donned
to lead ungulates to new grazing.

Yesterday the antlers dissuaded a rattler
from crossing an open space

where a nearby eagle
waited and spied atop a dead cottonwood.

Tomorrow Lori will poke a proselytizing devotee
of their lord Jesus in the ribs

while shaking a gourd
with her baby teeth sealed inside.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Each time it rained hard
Paul went out over his land
and looked to see
if the rain exposed any bones.

Once he thought he found
an ancient city built by the people
before the Tewa arrived.

Paul wondered if it is the rain
floating artifacts to the surface
or stripping the topsoil
to expose the past.

Once he found a broken clay jar
with hundreds of yellow glass beads
and two made of silver.

Paul fell in love with chance findings.
That is why he never dug into the soil.
Each time it rained hard
Paul went out over his land.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Veil of Open Mouths

Paul collected our exhaled breath
in burlap bags
but refused to state his intention.

I did not think it contained
any ingredient pertinent
to the production of black powder.

He once collected spoken words
from every earthly tongue
placed them in a blender
to create a universal language.

No mattered how he filtered the mix
stale tobacco and garlic
left a sour taste in the mouth when spoken.

Lori suggested carbon capture
to create some airy darkness
that might produce thunder and rain.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


A red checkered
one of many cut from
a single Italian restaurant
table linen
soaks slanted rain water
that pressed into the house
under the window.

The absorbed water
wicks only halfway
across the cloth
causing the red to deepen
and the white to turn to dull gray.

The wood there
is a bit warped
and paint cracked
and bubbled
from previous storms
that sped
across the valley
to tremble
our home’s bones.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Poorly Labeled

A package arrived today
at my Albuquerque home.

The corners were damp.
The package was labeled Rain.

With a box cutter
I slit the tape and opened it.

What I first thought were packing peanuts
was a cloud.

The cloud filled
half the height of the box.

When I pulled the cloud out
it expanded and covered our ceiling.

It rained on the carpet
all through the house.

As rain pelted me
I looked in the bottom of the box.

I saw blackened cardboard
where lightning struck.

The house shock with thunder.
The guest room bed burned.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney