Dented Carbon Fiber

Paul pinned a paper number
to the black asphalt.

He changed it every day
to reflect auto fatalities.

Of animals that is.
Especially flying insects.

He pinned it like he was angry.
He was angry.

These were numbers
he never invited into his head

or discussed over a beer
with Rudy.

Today’s number stretched across
one-and-a-quarter lanes.

Within three cars zooming over it
it was shreds, litter, ink

ready to bleed on the prickly pear
in the next desert rain.

Each night as dawn approached
a distant yelling broke Paul’s sleep.

A yelling inside his head
that did not sound like his deceased father.

Paul decided to use initiative
and print extra blank spaces left and right

so he might stretch the number out
like knifeless tape at the finish line.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Spirit Animal

When I was a kid
I thought an elk
must be my spirit animal
and the one
I wanted most to be.

I lived to spot them
on long walks
through the mountainous
high country
at the edges of meadows
and through the aspens.

Paul observed
I behaved like
an armadillo—
curled into my shell,
a protected ball, whenever
I got teased.

I guess he was right.

Riding rural
southwest highways
with their countless corpses
marking the pavement
flattens me
like news of another
friend’s death.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney