Body Shaming

Lori looked at the many pieces of paper
pinned to her body by other people.

The word shame printed in many hands
in pen, pencil and marker.

Almost all of the authors were men
but twelve women joined their club.

One at a time Lori removed the pins
and their prickly critiques.

She stacked the pieces of paper together
bound them with a rubber band

and added them to her collection
sorted by date.

The pins she added to a garden-size trash bin
that was now three-quarters full.

The collection was quite large
and she thought of making a Rubenesque collage

out or all the pieces of paper
and several hedgehogs out of all the pins.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Voice I No Longer Remember

Practice spirit speech.
Wander through night doors.

Salt food with sweat.
Rise at first light.

Place a hand on a friend’s shoulder.
Walk invisibly through forests.

Inhale wet leaf aroma.
Tread paths with no destination.

Accept advice from songbirds.
Give foolishness a home.

Define success for yourself.
Overwrite old memories.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Delphi tells new people she meets
they wear the face of God.

Those people who see
a demon in the mirror

choose not to believe her
for at least ten hearings.

It is only after the twelfth time
a crack in their marble facades

appears in the faintest
glimmer of a smile

that the unassumed dare
might contain an ecstasy.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Poetry shapes words into daggers
to penetrate the listener.

To say the unsayable
form the wrong words into a mine detector

then glide it over
the vocabulary hidden under your skin

until the beeps quicken
then carefully dig and defuse the proper word.

So much of the poetry I hear at open mic
is the violent loss of virginity before puberty

and the cascading damage
shame perpetrates upon the victim.

Unabashedly revealing that truth
creates beauty from deformity.

Bend a spoon with poetry.
There is no spoon.

Bend yourself with poetry
into the shape of the you to come.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Clay Pigeons

The exit wound
always exceeds the diameter
of the bullet’s initial penetration.

So it is with harsh words.
Just enough velocity to enter
the brain and rattle around,

ricocheting off the bone walls,
shattering self-esteem
like so many clay pigeons.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Lori auctioned off her body parts
each Friday and Saturday night,
but never her kisses.

She has a room within a room
within a room where she waits
the return of herself.

This is a game. This is a shell game.
This is high stakes poker.
This is what a last straw looks like.

Her room has a cold cup of coffee,
the butts of last week’s cigarettes,
a stolen airport sign warning,

Never Leave Your Baggage

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Urban Hollow

The girl making herself invisible
against the interior wall
wears a body language
that says I take up too much space
and if you join me
we will take up much too much space

Her hands tucked behind her back
pull her body into the wall.
She is half way into the wiring.

The inexplicable physics
of this passing through flowered wallpaper
without bruising a single bloom
confounds Paul.

He smiles and waves.

This accelerates the process
as her legs push against the floor
so the remainder of her torso
passes the drywall, framing and nails.

Paul walks quickly to the door
and outside to a point
opposite where she was inside
with the expectation of seeing her
among the thorny roses.

If she is there, she is shadow
along a part of the house
where the lights do not reach.

Paul returns inside,
presses his hand against the wall.
His finger tips detect the slight tap
of her heartbeat.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Dora sent forth swans
to plunder low self-esteem,
to ravage the casual insults people spread,
to abolish bullying in all forms.

The people were taken aback.
Retreated from the white feathers, black faces
and yellow-orange bills.
They feared the fate of the Children of Lir.

The people sought recourse
for the theft of guaranteed freedoms.
They called upon their congressional representatives.
They petitioned Saint Hugh of Lincoln.

Dora recalled her swans
just before their necks stiffened out of their lovely curves.

copyright 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


The Children of Lir were turned into swans by their stepmother. See Wikipedia for more about the Irish myth. (Why is it that stepmothers are wicked in the old stories?)

Saint Hugh’s animal symbol is a white swan. Wikipedia Entry on St. Hugh.

When I was in high school I became a voracious reader of mythologies. Being that my ancestors were from the British Isles, I focused at first on Irish, Welsh, Scottish and British Celtic mythologies. Soon I branched over to Norse and the other Scandinavian Countries. In school I had picked up the Greek and Roman. Eventually, I read about India and China’s Mythologies. It seems I moved across the European & Asian continents geographically. I have read very little about native American beliefs.

What sparked my interest? Teen rebellion? No that is not it. More like teen curiosity. It was that time of my life where I began to question all I was taught and religion/spirituality was part of that questioning. (I did not question being a Cubs fan or that baseball was the best sport ever invented.)

Love & Light