Paul was struck
by his lack of desire for the Abrahamic God
or any of the thousands of interpretations
of the Word perpetrated on the day.

He decided as a child
he had not failed Sunday school
but it failed him
as it tried to indoctrinate his behavior.

He admitted some of the stories
were good to know in a vague way
like knowing where one hill is
among thousands of nameless hills.

Paul pulled water up from the well.
He knew no matter
what he believed
the water would be the same.

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


My original body
I left behind in Paul’s coat closet.

It is not that I took someone else’s body
like filching a leather jacket

but I fashioned a new body
on a page from a Strathmore drawing tablet

with a 2H pencil
4B pencil and a kneaded eraser.

If I had realized the gray pallor
my efforts rendered

I would have spent my time
with Prismacolor Premiere pencils.

This result does not preclude
a newer drawing of a newer Prismacolored body

once my artistic hand
becomes accustomed

to my well defined
grayscale muscles.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul located his boundaries.
He pushed on them.
They moved.

He noticed that pushing
one boundary forward
changed the shape

of all of his boundaries
that were out of sight
and momentarily out of mind.

When a boundary moved
his inner landscape
altered as well.

This was neither
a good nor a bad thing
but a true thing.

His inner landscaper
did not like his inner forests
dying off in one place

to instantly regrow
on what had once
been an inner grassland.

His inner buffalo
in a confused and hungry state
head butted his inner dreams

into a reoccurring guilt trip
where his moral compass
played spin the dial.

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


The dead that haunt me
do so as angels
sent by God to assist
my growth
in all things human.

When the first arrived
I feared her dove wings
meant she might
fright-fly into a window
and break her neck.

But I learned
it was my mind
that placed wings
upon her back
and the attributes
of bird behaviors.

She exuded
a sustaining calm
that worked
like a pick
on the locked-off
parts of me.

The angels as a group
acted as a
flotation device
so the deep waters
would not drown me
as they flooded
my dreams.

The dead that haunt me
are light and vibrant
as if alive
in their prime
with moon-glow halos
and love
as their only tool.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

World Full Of Omens

On a whim sprung out of nowhere
I begin to worship the crucified.
Not just the Christ, but anyone
who has suffered great torment.

Maybe it is not worship, but
a feeling of kinship
in the search for honor codes
that people strive to live by.

I guess I should include the monk
of that famous self-immolation video
from June of sixty-three
whose sacrifice was not honored.

Maybe it is to appreciate directly
through simple acknowledgement
all the acts of kindness I observe
each day

and how no one asked permission
or weighed whether it was a selfless act
or a calculated one on the learning curve
to prepare the soul for crossing over.

This trying to find words for a feeling
drives me a bit crazy—
like trying to ignore the monsters
emerging from my personal history.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul attempts
to assign ownership
to the land
to you,
your neighbors,
the deer,
the turtles,
the mice,
but the land
rejects the assignments.

A red shimmer
forms in the air
before his face
and a sudden remembering
compels Paul
to hear in a sacred manner.

The land informs him
it owns itself
and wears
its spirit
upon its face.
Know that
it is both
the dust
and the ash.

And the wind
that carries crows
and cranes
is the very breath of God
blown through the void
all living things
from what traverses
its vast expanses.

Altering his assignment
Paul works
to own only himself,
which still includes
his parade of conflicts
and baubles.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Method To This Madness

Once the year concludes
I will be as different as jellybeans
from jellyfish.

I am happy when a day ends.
I will never relive it.
Not even in summer reruns.

I swept up all the wasted time,
but there was not enough
to create even a single dust bunny.

My mind let out a ball of string
so I could follow my thoughts
through its decision-making process.

My mind dropped the ball of string
in the middle of a dark forest
where wisps of fog impersonated ghosts.

Now I have misplaced my glasses.
How will I follow my breadcrumbs?
No. Wait. I have a string to rewrap into a ball.

What if the dark forest is where
memories go to be forgotten
or eaten by bark beetles and termites?

I guess forgetting myself
is the first step in changing who I am
and wiping the slate clean

in order to write a new story line
where the numbers add up
and I clearly remember what I experienced.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney