Commitment To Seeing It Through

There is an edge.
A stonewall in a meadow.
Moss covered ground stones.

The meadow is full of flowers.
Both sides just as colorful.
Just as lovely.

You are injured.
You drowse with your back against the wall.
Head bent under your broad brimmed hat.

Your gentle breath pushes the breeze.
Just as easily it takes the breeze inside you.
You are unaware of the sweat bees on your arm.

Within your sleep you feel stings.
It is not the bees.
It is the memory dream of a CSI episode.

The sun shines equally on both sides of the stonewall.
The wildflowers snuggle up against the stones.
In some places they are high enough to hide the low wall.

Your father stands on the other side.
Swallowtail butterflies decorate his bare arms.
His bare feet bear dirt from his walk to this location.

Your mother waits on this side.
She calls out to you to finish your math homework.
To come to the kitchen for milk and cookies.

Her calling wakes you.
You stand. The bees take their leave.
Your shadow casts itself across the stonewall.

Your shadow alters its angle on the other side.
Confused, you pull back from your father.
You notice the greenery grows at different angles as well.

You walk across the field toward your mother.
Not because she called you. But for yourself.
Nothing to do with television characters.

Who grow louder as you cross the meadow.
You return to the antiseptic room with white walls.
Your mother reads aloud a poem from Now We Are Six.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Climbing

Paul invented
a way to speak
to his pain
and how it felt
like California
burning.

He failed
to detect
the difference
between
piñon, aspen,
and juniper
ashes.

So it was
the wind
scattered
his pains
over miles
of charred
emotions.

Paul found
the granite
of his grief
towered over him.
El Capitan
insisted
he climb
without a rope.

He figured
why not wait
for a thunderstorm
to start
the ascent
out of the chaos,
since no one
will know then
if the droplets
are tears or rain.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Recognition

If I inherited
my parents’ home,
I would have
taken it apart
brick by brick
and paid for
the foundation
to be extracted
from the ground.

Knowing that
sitting beneath
any hawthorn tree
with darting cardinals
and cedar waxwings
feels like home
as long as I
hold Seymour
the troll doll
my eldest brother
gave me
one long ago
Christmas.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lovable

My parents lied.
They said they loved me.
Not really. Not once that I remember.

It was not from lack of trying.
It was from seeing my brother’s ghost
when they looked in my direction.

How dare I not be him.

Still, they had love in them
building up in a large reservoir
behind a grieving dam.

My mother was a girl scout leader.
She spread her love over the girls in her troop.
Her three troops.

They lapped it up and cherished her.

My father was a professor
and poured his love into calm instruction,
so patient with slow learners.

I never learned how his students felt about him.

I do not hate my parents for withholding love.
I was angry with them for it.
Anger resigned two decades ago on this grudge.

How simple, complex and lovable our humanity.
Love’s riverine capacity
to flow around the obstacles of grief and pain.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Momentary

The monsters that roam your unconscious
were once real in the guise of friends or family.

You may have an anxiety closet
or fear the underside of your bed,

but that is the mind’s manifestation
of buried images from silent era films.

Silence from before your vocabulary developed
or grew large enough to express something insidious

like the misplaced hand that steals the spine
or a common action diverted into the perverse.

Your fluttering eyelids over our coffee cup conversation
confirms emotional bruises and illicit fingerprints.

The secrets you keep are secret only in detail.
Violence without definition, without time stamp or witness.

As your body twists muscles in a squirm
your secrets wring an old blackened torment outward.

I recognize your avoidance techniques.
I realize your emotional heart stopped and blood turned cold.

Though it is plain your ears are not deaf,
my It’s over and Let it go fail to vibrate the ear drum,

to penetrate deep to the living memory
that retains the trespass as clear and present danger.

A moment of relief crosses your eyes
as we switch our talk to the playoffs

and other subjects that leave tears
far from the corners of your eyes.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Challenge

I want to be myself.
I am too practiced at being someone other.
I am blessed with peripheral awareness
and becoming what others need in the moment.
I lie to myself with such sentiments.
I am blessed with fear, the vulnerable memory
of being verbally beaten out of myself too much when young.
I had grievously grieving parents to please for survival.
Such is a child’s perception of devouring sorrow.
I hope, one day, I may see myself in the mirror
not as a villain, but a hero in search of a story.
I lie to myself with dreams of dreaming such hero stories.
I borrow heroes from my favorite novels
and dress myself with their persona for a day or two.
None of those heroes slay the people who raped me
in the gravel alley outside my grade school.
Heroes do not slay past memories.
Heroes are not written to allay these painful memories.
The gravel tells me, Do not to throw stones.
The gravel does not wish to be the instrument of my vengeance.
I still hear the gravel’s voice, especially inside my glass house.
I set my unrequited vengeance upon the gravel a year later.
Our Lord God Trinity can pick my vengeance up if they so choose.
I have not viewed God as a man since the day I was raped.
I believe my female God Trinity will love me into myself.
She tells me I must take my sad life and mold it into a better one.
She tells me happiness is selfish, joy is communal.
I shudder several times not knowing what to do with this gospel.
I am the sum of my choices and memories.
I am too many irrational numbers.
I am the tool of smooth, flat, oval stones
that wish to visit the bottom of a placid lake
after several hops and skips across the water’s surface.


Copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

Dianne and I debated whether to include this poem in the umflop blog or not. I think the quality of the poem is good, but the subject matter is very personal. We tried to measure the balance of revealing too much of myself compared to the artist’s task to speak for the community. To speak for those who have no voice.

Since you read the poem on this blog, you know what our final decision.

Over the years, I have learned that gaining acceptance of the past is better for me than gaining understanding. I will never understand why violence was committed against me, but I can accept that it was and lay that memory down into the past instead of carrying it around with me adversely affecting the present.