A stone giant walked out of a granite mountain.
He strode Montgomery heading downhill.
His footprints remained in the asphalt.

The earth trembled with each step.

The stone giant squeezed the Rio Grande in his fists
then lifted it to a new bed
and in places separated the river’s channels.

The giant repositioned cottonwoods
and returned the way he came
steeping through the rock without a door.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sipping From a Bent Straw

Lori starts to say Sandia
aloud, over a cocktail
aswirl with questions
about a lost spelling bee.

She tilts her chin upward
so her lower jaw
raises her lower lip
to close the gap to her upper lip.

Lori is not from the mountains
but from the rift we call a valley
that supports the Rio Grande
while waiting for the bottom to drop out.

She parks and walks into fast food joints
never utilizing drive-thrus.
She refuses to attend strip malls
in a city rife with asphalt.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Albuquerque climbs
from the Rio Grande valley
to the Sandia heights.

If you so determine
you may walk trails
from river to clouds.

And whether
you like the view
looking up

looking down
or looking at a friend
it is a good place.

Many of the door
and window frames
are painted turquoise.

Many are the invocations
of priests, rabbis and holy men
at the head of their flocks.

Here you must take
your little dogs inside at night
or coyotes may eat them.

Here a hawk may
glide by your ear
to strike a sparrow or a dove.

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

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


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


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

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