While in Transit

Lori unhinged the house
folded it windows and all
then placed it into her hand bag.

As she walked
a loose shutter clacked
and banged with each step.

As she walked
all the leaves in the gutters
fell on to her path.

Lori walked until she was under
the perfect patch of sky
and then unfolded the house.

The house mouse
navigated this physics challenge
and raided the pantry.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Groove and Tongue

The street narrows.
Its black surface absorbs all light.
A channel forms a center line that pulses.

The light flows east to west in the morning.
Gravity has no effect.
At high noon it pauses then reverses course.

Three black city rats exit the sewer.
They sprint through stalled traffic.
They stop to drink—turn luminescent blond.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Why and Wherefore

I appeared
in the afterlife
to my parents
as a character
on a daily television
soap opera
about a rustic town
named Mill Creek
where the rocky creek bed
looks more like
the colored pebbles
in the bottom
of a fishbowl.

I was a young doctor
who used
special surgical tools
to remove
the scorpions
that produced
stinging words
from people’s throats
and employed CRISPR
to splice Libra
or Gemini genes
to any infant Scorpio’s
double helix.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Critique

This morning
when Paul looked up
after feeding the birds
he noticed
the sky had become
all the fallen leaves
he had ever raked up
and bagged
for city pickup.

The sun shining
through the thin layer
painted everything earthly
with sepia tones
and all was transported
back to the start
of the Victorian Age.

If this sky did not end
Paul figured
Joseph Mallord William Turner’s
popularity as a painter
printmaker
and watercolorist
would wain
no matter how romantic
his latest subject.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Stop Watch

I decided orators
when they spoke to the public
did so in bold-italics.

I wrote a book
The Sex Lives of Confederate Generals
and drew from the source material

of diaries written by women
who were not the Generals’ wives—
there was no entry for Robert E. Lee.

It took me a decade to connect
the orator Edward Everett
who preceded Lincoln

at the commemoration
of Gettysburg National Cemetery
to Edward Everett Horton

who narrated Fractured Fairy Tales
and played Mr. Witherspoon
in Arsenic and Old Lace.

I stood on a rock
in a snowstorm
with my head turned upwards

my mouth open
and caught snowflakes
for eleven minutes fifty-three seconds.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

Salt Crystals Glistened in Their Tail Feathers

Paul walked to the corner store without disappearing.
He bumped into a person in the cereal isle.
No one apologized.

Paul looked for cereal with a circus theme.
He wanted to be a breakfast lion tamer—
not a colorful clown parade.

On his way home he uttered little nonsenses
each time a foot passed over a crack in the sidewalk.
Every fourth crack he uttered a Norwegian nonsense.

He did not worry about his mother’s health
since she passed away three years before.
His feet always landed on solid pavement.

Paul returned home safely.
Sixteen peace doves ate his steps
like bread crumbs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Social Connection

Pretty soon
I started lubricating myself.

First with an inexpensive brand
of olive oil
then ten-w-thirty
synthetic motor oil.

My goal of fitting
into crowded spaces
was semi-successful
in that people
gave me room
to pass through the gathering
as long as I did not rub shoulders.

The method of beer
wine or fermented grains
seemed popular
but too often led to
awkward morning reacquaintance
and diminished self-respect
in direct proportion to the loss
of self-restraint.

There was flattery.
I learned to spread it like jam.
My success was coupled
with the level of sincerity I could muster.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Parsed Conspiracy

Quiet is kept.

The safe it is kept in
requires five tuns of the dial.

The man who knows the combination
knows his wife is sleeping
with his best friend.

He believes his best friend is after
the five numbers
and not his wife’s affection.

He doubts his wife knows the five numbers
but doubt cuts both ways—
what if she does.

The man knows his best friend
has never gotten him drunk
or recklessly waved guns around.

The quiet he values so much
he now rarely takes out of the safe.

His turbulent mind suffers.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Restless

The astrologer
asks Paul
if he has
always been
a Scorpio.

I doubt it
he replies.
My restless birthday
moves yearly
about the calendar
to the month
with the best
photograph.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney