No Thunder No Lightning

Paul asked God to come down
and dangle feet off the end of the pier into the lake—
for them to have a talk about important things.

Paul pushed a tune out of a penny whistle while waiting.
He watched his mirroring image in the lake surface.
How it wobbled through his recent ups and downs.

God arrived as a gentle rain
that settled in the mountain valley
and speckled all the land and water in sight.

Paul spoke his most intimate conversation
with face lifted into the rain.
Drops occasionally interrupted a word

as they hit his mouth deep in his throat.
Or it could be that he choked up
with tears hidden by the falling water.

During this time Paul found his tongue
was made of cedar and magpie feathers
and his skin felt like it unraveled to expose his inner self.

The rain ended as sudden as it began.
Paul felt God rise back to the god place
as the sunshine returned.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The trick is
to hold out your hand
and convince
a cluster
of carbon-dioxide
to dance
upon your palm
which will
produce a white light
while you stand
perfectly still—
and it will last
as long as you
keep the molecules

So do this trick
in the nude
and exhale
deep breaths
onto your palm
as if you blow
a kiss
across the room.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Fever Dream

I learned Latin yesterday
and promptly forgot everything I learned.

I watched two biopics on Hemingway
and failed to understand the literary reverence.

Maybe it was the forgetting as with Latin.
That was last Tuesday.

Hopefully not the last Tuesday ever.
No. Not the last Tuesday but the penultimate.

I suppose I suffer some hard to pronounce disease
delivered by mosquitos.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

You’ll See Someday It Will Happen To You

Not aware that he was cursed
Paul walked through the shopping mall
totally unaware he radiated
this sensation that caused people
to be disappointed in him
for random reasons
that had nothing to do with his life
but the life of the person
who came in close proximity to Paul—
which is a measure of two meters
an anomaly in America which uses inches
feet and yards.

On a day when no one sang
Happy Birthday to Paul
a woman with a device
clicking like a geiger counter
approached him.
Her device drowned out her words
which appeared to be a simple greeting
on the lines of Hullo. My name is ….

Without so much as a by your leave
the woman hugged Paul.
A long disarming hug
that approximated a hug
of a beloved wife whose husband
had been away at war
for four or five years
and just now returned to their doorstep.
That image suggests
a long passionate kiss should ensue
and a news photographer would capture
the warmth and release of worry
but this woman had just met Paul
and was not that outgoing.

What did happen was the clicking device
became totally silent.

The woman speaking with a French accent
asked Paul to coffee at the Starbucks
at the corner of the street
where he happened to be walking
when she located him.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Vine Ripened

Paul takes
an evening walk.
Albertsons offered them
as free samples
in aisle seven
by the frozen foods.

He wishes
orange wedges
like after
Little League
baseball games
when he
was young.

Or if the produce
had free samples
of fresh love
on a stainless
steel tray
by toothpicks
by a girl
from marketing
who wore
a dangerous

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul pulled his imperfections
outside of himself
and lined them up
like toy soldiers for inspection.

It took all morning
as his imperfections
were not a handful of issues
equal to a squad of ten

but more like an entire corp
somewhere between
twenty and forty-five thousand
rank and file.

He was surprised
when he realized
his well organized imperfections
had support units and a supply chain

with something akin
to a military industrial complex
to lobby for them
state side in his cellular democracy.

Now that his imperfections
were outside of him
Paul looked in the mirror
and noticed he mostly was not there.

One by one he picked up
all of his toy soldier imperfections
and put them back
to their proper places.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

After A Worrying Four A. M. Call

Your shadow
hung outside my window.

You were away
at the convenience store
purchasing cigarettes.

Your shadow
trusted you to return for it.

While at the register
you experienced
masked men and guns.

Your shadow
hummed nervously at the delay.

You complied
with all their requests.
Handed over everything but your affection.

Your shadow
felt you open a whiskey bottle.

The convenience store clerk
handed out one three ounce bottle
to everyone who experienced the robbery.

Your shadow
sat down on my front steps.

You congratulated yourself
for not doing anything stupid
even though your heart raced.

Your shadow
saw you turn into my yard.

You embraced your shadow
and hugged it into permanence
upon your body.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Factoring For X

Paul buried himself in fallen leaves.
He tried to capture something.
He tried to recapture his youth.
Traces of it existed in this action.

He played with the thought
if he fell asleep under the pile of leaves
he would wake up
at seven or eight years old.

Paul napped a little.
Mostly he dreamt his childhood.
The happy parts and imagination.
When there was a map and X marked the spot.

He emerged from the pile of leaves.
Paul reached up and drank a cup of the Milky Way.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Slightest Vanity

He must have known
the ghost he ran into
by the peach orchard
not far from Shiloh church.

Paul opened a spectral door
at the road junction
adjacent to what is now called
the Bloody Pond.

He waved his hand
as if to usher them in
for a cup of coffee
with cream and sugar.

The three ghosts who came through
kept an ear cocked toward
the Tennessee river
and bolted about four p.m.

for Pittsburg Landing
no matter Paul’s remonstrations
that the war was more
than one hundred and fifty years over.

Paul dug his toe into the dirt
knowing any souvenir was long gone
but kept thinking about the one ghost
without a belt or suspenders

who periodically hiked up his pants
and pushed his belly out
as if that pressing action
would hold his sky blue pants in place.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Flying Star

Paul regularly checks
that his shadow remains
attached to his body.

He is sick in a way
that he hides his face
not wishing to be recognized.

I mean at Flying Star
the cafe
where we meet

to discuss why some words
freeze our tongues
into cold silence.

He prays for trust
and a sharp eye
for all his human interactions.

Paul’s shadow
wandered off last Tuesday
but we found it before nightfall

among the bright purple
up the arroyo in bear canyon.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney