Benefaction

One dawn I crawled
out from under the pews
and replaced the book
of common prayer
I used as a pillow.

On the cross
the Christ
seemed to be asleep,
so I tiptoed
not wishing to wake him
and jar him out of sorts
an hour before
the Sunday faithful
pinned their woes
to his flesh.

In the vestibule
a stack of polished oaken
collection plates
awaited the touch
of congregant hands
and the weight of money
as a secondary relief
from sin.

I seeded the top plate
with a dollar
on my way out.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Upstanding

I have lived long enough
to see my own sin
come to life and stalk after me
like a hungry child
who has learned how to wail
with that piercing tone
that shivers the spine.

The problem is
I have become my own obstacle.
How brick wall of me.
How traffic light stuck on red.
How English Channel without a boat.

My faith is paint-by-numbers
and I never learned to apply color
within the lines
to form cohesive shapes.

I have no use for handclap gospels
on stadium-screen televisions
and preachers who join the Jetset
with pay-dirt hallelujahs.

My childhood is up for sale
in the guise of furious poetry
and self-published throw-aways
that I hand out as a street corner pontiff,
claiming my work a durable bridge
to cross over from a child’s daydream
to the work of real men.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Never Forgot How To Fly

Paul cracked two eggs into a skillet.
He broke both yokes.

He considered wearing only a star-spangled tie
and nothing else.

It was too cold for such silliness.
His objection had nothing to do with his love handles.

Paul realized his life is in the middle
of a horrible accident that ends in explosions.

His smart phone glass radiated cracks.
That was seven mirrors worth of bad luck.

Last week he removed the gold in his teeth
for beer money on Two-for Tuesdays.

Paul worked cataloguing the world’s sins.
His recent favorite was Wrath.

Even though he watched The Great Escape
fifty-one times, he identified

with characters who got recaptured
or gunned down after a chase scene.

Long ago he stopped trying
to let his life follow God’s plan.

He’d seen the blue prints.
He was a nested egg swallowed whole by a snake.

Paul decided to live like the walking dead.
This allowed him to throw away his cares.

His cares were plucked by a drunken violinist
stuck in a balcony playing background music.

The inevitable explosion came as he noted
Lori’s phone number in his black book.

His afterlife party released a broad assortment
of caged birds from world zoos.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney