One Cool Evergreen

Our hike stops
stands perfectly still
for an out-held
smart phone
to identify a birdsong.

Sunday morning
this canyon
is our church
with its granite pews
and piñon statuary.

We prefer the trails
halfway up the slope
over the arroyo below—
all dry sand
footprints and tracks.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


My latest collection, Far Away Right Here, is available in print. Dianne and I cherry-picked all the poems I wrote in 2022 to create this collection. If you like this poetry blog, purchasing a copy is a good method to support this effort and assist me in paying the yearly internet fees.

Est – Grace Favor or Middle English for East


The Sandias are a slice of watermelon
in the eyes of dead conquistadors.


A fully clothed boy sits in a dry bathtub
set in an arroyo awaiting rain.


Balderdash. Odin’s son runs faster
than any mere mortal.

Mere. A lake, pond or arm of the sea.
Mere mortal—people who live by water.

Pugly—a contraction of pug-ugly.


Goofballs and heartthrobs vie
to be one of the three bears in the passion play.


Cozy blonde from Lubec, Maine.

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

Remote Thought

Memory stampeded the front range
but did not bull over the Sandia mountains into Albuquerque.

All those hooves milled about head stones
in search of an argument thrust into the present by the past.

The wounds we once inflicted upon each other
never had their stitches removed.

That mending was one long thread
that unintentionally held us together over fourteen hundred miles.

This morning in the reservoir run dry
you found the drowned math needed for our accounting.

Our greener grasses are east of the Sandia mountains
under ambling hooves stirring up dust clouds

as Memory works its way up the front range
toward the Pecos River headwaters.

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

For A Change

The point guard
not laughing it up
with his teammates
at a contrived table for twelve
looks through a girl
and out a window
to the lone cloud
in the bluest sky.

He ignores
his green chile cheeseburger
while his eyes trace
the Sandia ridge
and his mind formulates
how to get up there.

It is impossible to say
why he is not engaged
with the victory celebration
of a basketball game
that propelled his team
to the state finals
and, for a change,
I invent no Maybes.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tumbleweed Church

We unyoke two Coopers Hawks
in the Sandia Foot Hills.

Downed doves bend flower stems
on the disassembling.

Undressed cactus skeletons
catacomb small beetles.

A burst of dandelion puffs.
A sudden gust starbursts the sky.

We are beautiful here
so far from the sting of buzzwords.

A rock blossoms with a thrasher bloom.
A tweedle-leet alerts the faithful to our presence.

This tumbleweed church. This rabbitbrush hall.
Unpolished fossil vuggs in the rising walls.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Location Sonnet

I may claim I moved off the reservation when I reached my majority, if you consider a ninety-eight percent republican Chicago suburb a reservation.

During my university semester in Germany, the locals refused to let me speak Auf Deutsch, so they might practice their English.

During that same semester, museum personnel misread my misprinted university ID card as Oxford instead of Rockford—I have dropped my R’s ever since, seeking to duplicate the benefits of misperception.

On our flight back to the U. S., a blizzard blanketed the midwest and east coast, so we were put in a holding pattern over the Atlantic. The plane got so small by the eighteenth hour, a hamster would not fit in that metallic tube.

I purchased my first cellphone when I lived outside Port Angeles, Washington. I walked to the top of the north hill overlooking the ocean to receive a signal.

When I lived in Taos, New Mexico there was no such thing as over-night delivery via Fed Ex or UPS or USPS. The family lawyers back in Chicago, despite their vast education and experience, could not fathom this.

I spent most of my one year living in Frederick, Maryland walking the Antietam battlefield. I cannot explain why I did not move to Sharpsburg, Maryland to shorten the commute.

Someday, in an effort to lose most of my sense of privilege, I think I should live in a location where I am the only white person for a hundred miles in all directions. Does such a place exist anymore?

Technically, as a white person, I am a minority in Albuquerque and in New Mexico as a whole. I never once felt minor.

Every summer day when the Albuquerque sunset paints the Sandia Mountains the watermelon color pattern that gave the mountains their Spanish name, I wonder why Nature fails to behave PC toward our African American citizens.

Albuquerque was named after Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque. I like to believe they dropped the first R for my benefit.

Albuquerque is nicknamed the Duke City. The Duke never visited.

In Albuquerque you learn the lovesick sound of roadrunners calling for a mate. At your most lonely, you never sounded that bad off, even with six pints of beer spilling your desperation on someone sitting next to you at the bar.

Twelve years in Albuquerque with its many Indian casinos on the city outskirts and I have never visited one to place a single wager. My biggest payoff on my Albuquerque bet was meeting Dianne.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy Independence Day (US) to you all. I trust you have lined up a joyous way of celebrating the 4th with plenty of friends of family no matter how much star spangled fireworks and festivities are in your day.

Sherman Alexie broadened my definition of a sonnet. I recommend reading his books whether poetry or novels.

My old (pre-Dianne) habit was to move every 1 to 4 years (usually 3 years) to a new location to explore the geography, history and culture. I am convinced the wanderlust had roots in tragedy with both searching and avoiding being part of the trauma process. Along the way I met a lot of really fantastic people, walked a lot of miles of trails, bicycled over 16,000 road miles, and learned I cannot adjust myself to fit in all cultures in the USA.

My tally is 9 states I have lived in. My favorite state is being in love with Dianne. New Mexico for all its poor ratings (48th, 49th or 50th in many government state rankings, such as education), is a beautiful place to live in with a great diversity of people. The only place I met a greater diversity was Washington D.C., especially on the National Mall with its tourists and locals and foreign & domestic politicians.

Love & Light



Staring at one’s ice tea glass is as good a thing to do as another
when eavesdropping on the next table.

It seems some people do not wish to ride the cable car
up to the top of the Sandia Mountains.

And there is the self-denial of the skinny girl who refuses to finish
the remaining two-thirds of her chocolate eclair.

A debate starts up whether to hike through the midday heat
or visit a museum or begin to practice siesta.

A woman in the group complains the Rio Grande
does not have a riverwalk with shops like in San Antonio.

She does not care for the natural growth along the banks
or ducks, geese, herons and egrets.

A guy who has now checked his watch four times,
asks if it is too early for margaritas.

Copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I was about to say “Happy Memorial Day”, but then I began to wonder if I should say “Solemn Memorial Day” since we honor those men and women who serve (served) our country. Wikipedia Entry for Memorial Day.

Our Memorial Day includes a barbecue with friends late in the afternoon. Dianne and I will walk the foothills this morning to enjoy the butterfly migration that moves through Albuquerque. Millions of Painted Lady butterflies move about. A migration of butterflies is a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies, just like a flock of crows is called a Murder of Crows. Who came up with these labels? (Terms of the venery at Wikipedia.)

This year the weather seems more violent than in the past. Maybe that is my perception of the moment, since New Mexico is adjacent to Oklahoma where so many tornadoes have hit this past week and now flooding begins to burst levies on the Arkansas River. I wonder if people will become more or less violent due to the weather. Usually in times of trouble people set aside differences and help each other. I hope that holds true. My prayers go out to the people who live in the places where homes have been destroyed and lives up ended. My donation money goes to the American Red Cross.

Memorial Day is the official (unofficial?) start of tourist season across the U. S. In the American Southwest, tourists seem to arrive all year round and are not limited to the break in the school year. The other day a tourist family from France chatted away in French at the cafe I frequent. I did not understand their words, but I did eavesdrop to the melody of their voices in conversation.

Love & Light


Blue Thru Orange

Warm night in Albuquerque.
The neighborhood dogs bark at an approaching siren.
The Sandia Mountains do their watermelon illusion.
We sit on the porch swing and watch the magic show.

I keep staring at the spot where the Mimosa once stood.
I shift my gaze to the apricot tree which may have to come down next.
Where will the our yard’s birds nest?
Cholla is good for thrashers, but not finches, not sparrows, not doves.

Dianne talks about the rocks in the foothills.
Boulders really. She repeats the word vug and vuggy.
Vug: A cavity in the stone, from the Cornish Vooga.
Our foothills require a dentist.

The loco weed blooms white.
Thumb-sized bumble bees maneuver in and out of the blooms.
Sometimes they require a little assistance outward bound.
The prickly pear are ripe with deep red tunas.

The west does its sunset light show.
Who’s afraid of blue thru orange?
Who’s afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue Barnett Newman?
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Barnett Newman painted a series “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue.” (Link to image IV in series.) Newman named the paintings as a reference to the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. (Albee played on the title of the “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf” a song in a Disney cartoon.