Loneliness

I do not know what I have done
and I do not suspect God will answer me
whether I am on my knees at the alter
or on a walk through the woods.

And what is worse is that each morning
I wake and look into the mirror
only to wonder whose eyes those are
that look back at me with such reproach.

There is a promise I have threatened to make
which, with twisted words, might mean
I will love my self, but, on some days
it is more a bargain just to see the sunset

and lay my head down again upon the pillow
in the slight knowledge that tomorrow might be better,
might be the day when my soul walks inside of me—
not two steps behind and one to the right.

Down at the river where the rusted railroad bridge
supports the many nests of swallows
I gamble with the dusk, with bread that draws
the ducks over to speak for me

to the God who must reside in the distorted sky
as it is reflected in the water below the bridge,
below the darting swallows, as a McDonalds’ cup
fails to snag on any of the river’s branches or rocks.

But no one speaks, except for that voice within my head,
the voice that says, You are ugly. You incompetent boob.
You … The list goes on and reciting it darkens the moon
as it rises above the trees, as the sun filters orange and red.

There is the offer of the bridge, of the bloated fish that float by,
of the river’s merciless current that lifts the dead and discarded
and carries them toward the sea—but the river with its flow
will not fill the emptiness, nor carry me back to God’s loving arms.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pink Pearl

Paul did not remember
what he told Dora
of his gospel of terror
and that he
is merely a reflection
of the clouds
on the river’s surface.

He remembers
how he and Dora
flapped their arms
and laughed
until tears
squeezed out
of their eyes
under the cedar waxwings
in the hawthorn tree.

He thinks about
how the world looks
from the river bottom
eyes open looking up
through the
tannin curtain
at the passing clouds
and the blackbirds
in the cattails.

It explains
that look
he often wears
and how his logic
has this sense
of erasure
as the pebble
strikes the surface
and ripples
through the clouds.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney