Cleansing

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

Off Grid

Born out of the heavy summer air
the Blue Woman emerged
on the door step
of a pueblo apartment.

She arrived fully formed
as if the sun set her down
on a beam of light
and photons formed flesh.

Her words alternated
Spanish and English
with every twenty-third word
in Tewa.

Where her bare feet
touch the bare ground
flowers sprang
from the first memory.

She bent down to drink
the Rio Grande
and the iridescent glimmer
of light on scales.

The Blue Woman joined
a homeless campfire
and calmed
her companion’s haunted sagacity.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tree Casts its Protective Shadow like Dice

How odd to see a ceiling fan
on the bottom of the Rio Grande rotating.

It could explain the geese
flying in circles without ceasing.

Maybe the line of their flight
will turn black and solid come winter.

The dog lies on red clay
enamored with the thought of tile.

The dog is tired from chasing goats
through fallen rose petals.

See how her sleep is interrupted
by its paw’s movement.

That too is the ceiling fan’s radiance—
a current flow submerging footprints.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lost

The muddy river down in the valley
hides my gold wedding band.

I thought to hire two hermits to get wet
searching for it.

Too much like Sméagol in the shallows
for my comfort zone.

This unregistered mental chatter
takes place in the oxbow.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Snapshot

Paul knew his way at night.
With his eyes closed.
With bare feet avoiding all the stubs.

The air currents by the Rio Grande were cooler.
The channel currents could be harsh.
Paul entered the water to float.

As weightless as possible on the water.
As gulls and geese slept.
As the heavens expanded wider than normal.

Cradled by the river he gave up
any resistance to any force reaching down
and investing him with something more.

A chore worthy of his own constellation.
A super power to save the world.
An almost unbelievable story to tell.

No moon looked down on him.
Countless stars viewed him
but his reflected image would be eons returning.

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

Below the News Helicopters

Our Friday ritual was to meet up
and walk the bosque
down by the Rio Grande
and stop for a late breakfast
at Flying Star cafe.

A fire burned a reported thirty acres
on both sides of the river
and the smoke made our walk
untenable.

We watched two fire companies
put out hot spots
on a computer screen
as our drone rose high enough
over the backyard to view the action.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Memory Closet’s Corroded Doorknob

My unfinished dreams
sent me a strike notice.

They picketed the ghost towns
of my mind

and inhabited all the empty buildings
of those neighborhoods.

It was not that I forgot to work on them
but resources were scarce

due to supply chain issues
and intellectual property rights.

And the pandemic dropped
countless yellow rubber ducks

to bob in the Rio Grande
where no kids splashed bath water.

My unfinished dreams
carried signs and told

unbearable stories
in squeaky voices

so I would repair the boardwalks
along the ocean ghost towns

and light them up
with various amusements.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Bosque in Stereo

Fallen grace.
Boxed wine.
Convenience store wings.
Cottonwood shade.
Rio Grande angels.
Chase roadrunners.
Coyote foxtrot.
Crazy crow-prayer.
Bicycle roll-by blessings.
Sandia watermelon sugar.
Wind waves branches.
Declining sun.
Reddish cloud streamers.
Maximum moon.
Impulse girlfriend kiss.
Luminous animals.
Pin-drop owls.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Rainier

Paul drinks a Rainier beer.
He drinks it because Longmire drinks Rainier.

Only a couple liquor stores in Albuquerque
stock Rainier beer.

Paul likes to carry a six pack in a backpack
and walk the volcanoes.

He likes feeling a cold one slide down
while sitting observing the city east to west

from that rocky vantage point
that residue of tectonic destruction.

He thinks of Mount Rainier blowing its top
like Mount St. Helen recently did.

Recently in geologic time.
Paul likes to think in geologic time.

His problems seem insignificant
within that framework.

If Rainier did blow its top
Seattle would be the future’s Herculaneum.

Paul turns from his stoney perch
and looks at the Jemez and the Valles caldera.

All that ejected rock and ash that filled
the Albuquerque rift—the Rio Grande valley.

He holds his Rainier beer can up
and tips it in salute

to the power of the earth beneath his feet
to move cubic miles of rock long distances

and drop boulders like rain drops.
Sitting on those rocks helps him keep perspective.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney