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

Sunset Under a Break in the Clouds

Bright west difference.
Night sky without constellations.

Forever unhinged.
Vertigo.

The sky is falling!
The sky is falling!

Terrafirma embrace.
Nearby horses.

Fewer names I am known by.
Limbs stirring July.

Pushups.
Tens of them.

Ones really.
Single digit planet.

Eyes transfixed.
Adobe brick church transept.

Pebbles in my shoes.
Journey slowed.

Muddy white laces.
Unbowed tied.

Dew wet.
The sky opens up.

An immense rain.
Not Noah big.

Arroyo wash out.
Three homeless

now embraced by
Poseidon? Yahweh?

Vishnu? Mohamed?
Rio Grande sandbar.

Flow rates
remain twenty percent of normal.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

For A While Now

Blood whisper.
I signal the savior
I am ill.

My body is fine.
It is my pixilated persona
infected by a lockout virus.

I am simultaneously
alive and ghost.
Blank is beautiful.

Ransomware.
I will not pay it—
my red-letter bank funds.

Because I spent
the morning
with the white horse in the pasture.

Bread and water disconnect.
This digital jail cell
freed me

to count wetland birds
along the Rio Grande.
Five blue herons.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sunrise Practice Before Open Mic

The cottonwoods along the Rio Grande
leafed out these last three days.

Paul came across the remains
of a coyote feast—a rabbit he thinks.

Such is survival in the flood plain.
Imagine the depth of the tap roots

since the Cochiti Dam was built
preventing the river overflowing its banks.

Paul finds the cottonwood stump
with Whitman carved in it.

He stands tall, draws a deep breath
and recites new poems to the river.

A flock of Canada Geese
rise in a great flap,

while the last two Sandhill Cranes
walk the sandbar unfazed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

In Service Of A Mystery

Paul renamed Albuquerque Jerusalem
but no one paid any heed
to this departure.

It remained so even after
he took out a full page ad
in the Albuquerque Journal.

And ads on Google Searches
for the Duke City
over the last three months.

It was the uptick in violence
during the pandemic
that spurred Paul

to remove the Spanish Nobleman
and the conquistadors
with their bloody history

and replace them
with an Abode of Peace
by the long river.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Cache of Four

My sleep drifts.
I wake unintentionally slanted.
I walk all day at an angle.
Lean in my chair.
My cursive handwriting improves.

Each Christian meme
reinforces the proclamation
I am not saved
and heaven rejects me
at the river’s edge
because I do not claim
Jesus as my savior.

Just south of Albuquerque
the green farm fields
contrast the desert land
above the flood plain
and though the Rio Grande
does not appear swift or deep
the current will drag
you under for the fishes
and bull frogs.

In places God seems readily apparent
and those places have nothing
to do with humans
and their destructive constructions.
I cannot claim to know fully
how Ego skyrocketed
apartments and business buildings
into right-angle canyons.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney