I looked for Paul under the nautilus shell.
It was one of his favorite hiding places
when he felt the gods were upset with him.

My second thought was the bar
where the cocktail waitresses dressed like angels
with the false promise of falling.

That failing I tried the bushes
where the white-crowed sparrows liked to gather
and discuss bird feeder banquets.

Then I remembered it was Saturday afternoon
and a baseball game played out in the park
with bleachers brimming with uproarious little league parents.

There he was quietly stealing signs
but keeping the information to himself
instead of giving one side or the other advantage.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

New Call

Dora catches sparrows.
I mean, she attracts them with a song.

House sparrows. Black chested sparrows.
White crowned sparrows. Cinnamon tailed sparrows.

Down from the phone lines they swoop
to her upraised arm.

They exchange sweet secrets
and neighborhood feeder locations.

They exchange nest building plans
and rules about egg warming.

After four days, I recognize a new call
to entreat Dora to the yard.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Riverwest Neighborhood

I saw you
on the bus stop bench.
Perched really.
Feet on flat wooden slats.
You held a sunflower
from your garden.

Sparrows darted about
the ground where
last night’s popcorn
lay scattered about.

On the bus
as you passed by
the sunflower
started conversations.
Talk of this years corn yield.
Sunflower seeds
drop from so many lips half spit.
The bus floor resembled
a baseball dugout.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Riverwest is a Milwaukee, WI neighborhood north of the downtown beyond Brewers Hill. As the name implies it is west of the Milwaukee river. It is an artsy neighborhood where I hung out quite a bit.

Until Tomorrow

Paul, who skips stones across the water,
wonders who loves him.

He knows it is a common ailment
and Indian Pale Ales only treat the symptoms.

He watches the sparrows flock
and feels the green flicker of jealousy cross his eyes.

Paul peels the label off his water bottle.
His fingers plow furrows in his hair.

He looks up at the sky unsure if it is his.
He fingers an Indian head penny he keeps for luck in his pocket.

Luck always has strings attached.
He feels he is a placeholder, like the ‘c’ in luck.

Paul knows he’ll be fed-up with this feeling tomorrow
and will bicycle on country roads all day long.

The sparrows tell him over and over and over,
You need not wait until tomorrow.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney