Sufficient

We misplaced our shadows in the night
as the house turned.

The dry creek bed filled with sky—
a wash punctuated

with thistle heads
softened with rabbit brush.

Weak things were swept away
by water impregnated with ash.

I stood above you.
Silent.

A being crouched slightly
then stretching the universe itself.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Weight of Absence

Paul takes off his shadow
and places it on the bathroom scale.

He takes the shadow off a tree
and weighs it as well.

And then a plane’s shadow
as it passes underfoot.

The bathroom scale’s needle does not move.
Or is it the circular numbers do not move?

He postulates he could fly
if he put the airplane’s shadow on his body.

He hypothesizes he could eat sunlight
if he adopted the tree’s shadow.

He tests neither of these theories
and returns his own shadow to his shoulders

so he might wear a Magritte style bowler
without feeling strange.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

After A Worrying Four A. M. Call

Your shadow
hung outside my window.

You were away
at the convenience store
purchasing cigarettes.

Your shadow
trusted you to return for it.

While at the register
you experienced
masked men and guns.

Your shadow
hummed nervously at the delay.

You complied
with all their requests.
Handed over everything but your affection.

Your shadow
felt you open a whiskey bottle.

The convenience store clerk
handed out one three ounce bottle
to everyone who experienced the robbery.

Your shadow
sat down on my front steps.

You congratulated yourself
for not doing anything stupid
even though your heart raced.

Your shadow
saw you turn into my yard.

You embraced your shadow
and hugged it into permanence
upon your body.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Flying Star

Paul regularly checks
that his shadow remains
attached to his body.

He is sick in a way
that he hides his face
not wishing to be recognized.

I mean at Flying Star
the cafe
where we meet

to discuss why some words
freeze our tongues
into cold silence.

He prays for trust
and a sharp eye
for all his human interactions.

Paul’s shadow
wandered off last Tuesday
but we found it before nightfall

among the bright purple
thistle-heads
up the arroyo in bear canyon.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney