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

From the Dream an Attack Began

Miro’s burning giraffe ran down Central Avenue
past the floats in the Day of the Dead parade.

The giraffe burned for eighty-five years
without becoming ash or rising from it.

Now that the giraffe was in the American West
it had visions of wild buffalo in flames.

Thunder lent the giraffe its voice.
It uttered a single command without verbs or nouns.

Burning buffalo erupted from the ground
from all the ordinal compass points.

A stampede set Western Civilization on fire.
Ravenous flames. An inferno of justice.

Ghost dancers rose from the grave
and planted smoky flags.

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

Life Line

Paul looks at his hands
and feels they are the wrong hands.

Someone else’s hands he found
like lost gloves on the roadside.

These hands have more knowledge of natural rope
and how to bulldog a steer then tie it up.

They have aches where he has never ached
and two fingers at unnatural angles.

Even though these hands feel like someone else’s hands
they accept Paul’s blood pumped by his heart.

Their skin is dry all over and cracked in places
with calluses he does not remember earning.

They do not know how to grip a baseball
to throw a knuckle curve.

These hands instantly ball into a fist
every time they hear the word Nigger

ready to do violence to whoever spoke so foolishly—
in a darkened alley or out in the open if necessary.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney

post script

Happy New Year. My wish for you is that you have the persistence to turn your New Year’s resolutions into reality. May you see the wonder of this world daily.

Entrepreneur

Lori developed a mixed-grain alcohol
she labeled Devil’s Surrogate.

A small snake lay dead in the bottom
of each amber glass bottle.

No one was expected to swallow the snake.

Municipalities brought back Sunday blue laws
even though each label was printed with bible verses.

Those who drank more than three fingers
fell into a fevered state of proselytizing

the redemption of feral dogs.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Middle Class Falling

Paul never touched starved homeless people
even as their numbers increased.

He did help remove frozen homeless
from the neighborhood park where children played.

Paul proposed to the city council a fund be created
to provide the homeless cannabinoids so they could relax.

He went to resale shops and purchased old clothes
to donate to the homeless just before the first frost.

Paul sewed up any rips in the clothes
with golden thread stolen from a medieval pope’s robe.

He kept sandwiches in waxed paper in his car
to hand out to traffic-light sign-holders.

Paul wrote the word Manna on the wax paper
with a fine print disclaimer it was not sent from heaven.

He donated money to the food bank instead of the homeless shelter
on the mistaken belief one fed the other.

Paul wondered how the current severe drought
affected the soup kitchen’s production line.

copyright © 2022 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