Cartwheel Landing Butt-dial

Lori falls apart in the privacy of her own home.
She reassembles herself before going out.
Sometimes a piece or two gets kicked under the sofa.

She dislikes the word Bamboozled
because in her mind it ties all her losses and failures
to the drinks she likes to imbibe.

Lori drops a quarter in the juke box
only to learn the juke box requires three more
before it plays a song by Blue Oyster Cult.

She spies a boy wearing a Grim Reaper t-shirt
with the words Got Death printed
on the curved blade of the upheld scythe.

Lori wonders if the boy is the grim reaper in disguise
with appointments to keep in the pub
or if he was too underdressed to be allowed entrance to the afterlife.

From her barstool perch, she watches the boy in reverse
in the barroom mirror with the notion of a one night stand
but notices his commitment to the thinnest girls.

Lori right swipes through social media
in search of girls entering how much Friday night devalued them
though most of those entries are not made until Saturday.

She copies and pastes the response
You are worth more than you think
anonymously, a thousand times before last call.

Lori leaves while she can navigate the sinkholes
as her tequila tunnel vision only sees the street lamps
that light the way home.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


Knowing your mercenary heart
I asked you to fight my battles
and win every one.

We haggled for several hours
but were too far apart
and neither side opted for arbitration.

I no longer know your voice
since you chose not to be the fierce friend
to back me up in bars.

You took up watching soap bubbles
exude from fancy toys
to dazzle park goers.

I dove into digital numbers—
the infinite subset between
zero and one.

As you gathered folks around you
to enjoy the simple wonders
that brought you to natural settings

I pushed them farther and father away
connecting through applications
and screens across oceans.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


It was too late for Paul.
Too many beers to drive safely back home.

Being too late, his relationship might end.
But his relationship’s trouble was why he drank.

If the cantina had not been too busy
the bartender might have listened to him vent.

In that case he might have drunk less
and been home at a reasonable time.

In time for an argument about the beer on his breath
and her contention David Bowie

was the greatest rocker of all time.
A designation he gave to Led Zeppelin.

He loved arguing this type of personal truth
when he was twenty-something.

Now he felt all these debates should be settled
since social media was readily available

and ranked choice voting applied
to determine the greatest rocker once and for all.

Paul kept his keys in his pocket
and pulled out his smart phone for a Lyft.

He went outside to wait
afraid he would not notice the arrival notification

over the brassy mariachi band
and lovely Latin girls dancing skirts aswirl.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Metaphor Taken Literally

Paul decides
he is more dust than ash.

Even with this declaration,
he remains mostly ocean.

Some days he is intimidated
by absences.

He places those voids
in a closed-off room

behind a red door
with a Gone Fishing sign.

This past week the world
scrutinized Paul for one news cycle

via more social and mass media
than he was accustomed to.

Because, in a poem he posted to a blog
Paul took on all the blame

for the third of the four years
of the Trump Administration.

It is so raucous under the microscope!
Their pens scratch baseline notes.

Arising, Paul bumps his head
on its glass ceiling.

See! Dust. Just like the dry scrapings
of an archeologist

around an uncovered artifact,
a carved figure of unknown origin.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Tabs

In the current
erasure culture
I purchased
Pink Pearl stock
with all my
life’s savings
on the belief
lazy dark-sides
lead to zealous profits.


My iPhone
had a nervous breakdown
as my social media apps
warred with my
ad-blocking apps
then drowned
in all the digital piss
territorially marking
the white cloud.


All the no-account drunks
had to pay cash
for inebriation
and took to begging
on their knees
for that first drink
to limber their tongues
so they might
charm more drinks
out of those who
look down on them.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney