Time Out

Paul and Lori took a week apart.
They knew they would reassemble it later.

Each of them traveled light.
One carry-on piece of luggage each.

Both drove in different directions.
They switched directions to return home.

Each documented
the changing color of the highway.

Paul drove out of green-chili-cheeseburger country.
Lori left chocolate behind in the house.

They drove in search of an epiphany.
Rand McNally did not mark those as points of interest.

Both had the habit of stopping
at roadside historical markers.

Their tires never touched
an interstate highway.

They returned home at the same time
without the aid of GPS synchronicity.

They found the disassembled week
where they left it on the kitchen table.

Even though they were tired from their travels
they worked to midnight reassembling it.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Wall Street

A raccoon dines in candle light.
It eats corn on the cob rotated in its two hands.

Its nose and whiskers are greased with butter.
Salt grains decorate the kernels.

What in the dark I took as
the raccoon’s gigantic balls

are two dark grey rubber balls
that were thrown in to the trash by an unknown.

The raccoon is the center of my attention
until it wonders off

out of the kerosene lamp light
and away with an old New York Times

tucked under one arm
so it may check its retirement investments.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Half Asleep from a Late Afternoon Nap

A long gray strand of God’s hair
snakes across the dining room table
out of the chicken casserole.

A portrait of Sequoia sits on the fireplace mantel
with his alphabet inscribed as a paper frame
within the wooden frame.

A bee that inadvertently flew into the house
now bangs all his buzz
on the picture window viewing the terraced garden.

The gray strand of hair is twenty-two feet long
that is why I ascribe it to God
and not grandfather or grandmother.

My Apple computer products
contain the Cherokee font package
as I begin to learn Sequoia’s native language.

I open the door then use my hand against the window
to guide the bee to freedom and home
only to let four flies in.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Giant Steps

The dark told me a story about my father.
How he went to where a meteor fell.
Not to the place where it hit the ground.
But to the place it streaked across the sky.

My father went there to sew up the rip in the sky.
He found stationary lightning
awaiting a tornado’s passage below it
because it did not wish to compete for attention.

He thought of wielding the lighting as his own.
He thought better of that thought
and left the lightning to its own decisions.
It shot downward and split an apple tree.

Finding no rip to sew my father returned from the sky.
He first touched his foot on a mountain.
He second touched his foot on the river below the mountain.
His third stopped on the top doorstep.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Missouri Compromised

A grasshopper swam
traveled something like
single file
and ate their way
across US lawns
and prairie
so a single line
in the country’s grass
stood out
when astronauts
looked down
from the international
space station.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul shortcut through a field.
It was not planted yet.

He could not tell his diary
if it was a cornfield.

The farmer had spread manure.
So to Paul it was a cow-barn field.

He had cleaned several cow barns in his life
thus knew the smell.

His squishy steps failed to elicit taps
when he tap danced part of the field.

It was a large field
so the flies did not swarm in his path.

The field’s bouquet filled his nose
with life’s promise.

He spat regularly into the field
so he might leave a little bit of himself behind.

The field would add microscopic amounts
of his DNA to the corn.

He imagined some crows eating an ear of corn
and thinking my that tasted like Paul.

Paul knew if he fell he would laugh at himself
until his new manure-mud-clown face dried.

He arrived at a post at the edge of the field
with a help wanted sign. It read scarecrow.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Except When It Rains

Paul suffered
trapped between a rock
and another rock.

These rocks are hard
and opaque stone—
not metaphorical.

He stepped between them
on a trail
but they closed.

The slot canyon’s teeth
on the apple’s skin
of Paul’s body.

At a geologic pace
Paul might lose enough weight
in a few days to slip away.

The rocks closed on him
quite quickly—energetically—
and may use such speed again

to crush his suffering
being a gentle and humane
slot canyon.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul’s backbone burns.
Moths are drawn to the flame.

Since the flame is under his skin
the moths never singe their wings.

The burn in his spine spreads
through his skeleton.

His skull glows through his skin.
His friends are happy a light finally went on.

Other people declare he is enlightened.
The religious think he wears a halo.

Moths approach him by the thousands.
Birds dart about his head feasting.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

No Visible Opening

Here is an oblong spot of light in darkness.
No one anticipated its appearance.
Maybe it is a symptom of some illness.
Lori reminds me we are at the theater.
The spot of light is not on the stage.
The actors do not clamor for it to move to them
Maybe it has been quarantined these past two years.
Lori asks me to please deal with the possible.
Maybe it waits for Godot.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul grew a beard.
He did not recognize himself in the mirror.

His mirrored hand moved
to scratch the beard on his left side.

His real arm remained at his right thigh.
His blood pressure rose four points.

His mirror presented spread peacock tail feathers
behind his head.

Paul turned around to see the watercolor poster
of shorebirds adjacent to the sandy tide.

He spoke indirectly to his mirror image
and it kept quiet listening.

His murmured thought caused his mirror image
to bend its ear toward him.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney