She was sometimes happy and sometimes sad.
She seemed religious in the vein of Vivien, the Lady of the Lake.

She tended to follow mother ducks on land.
She disliked and refused to use the words Fairy and Nymph.

Her gaze turned men to stone
only as long as both their eyes met.

Her gaze ignited woman to fire
in a manner that burned their spirits brighter into the world.

She lead the worst kind of men into the lake.
This journey did not go well for them, especially when drunk.

She lead the best kind of women to the shore
before the transition to the Other Wind.

One evening catching fireflies in a jar
I captured her as she waded into the intermittent glow.

I kept the fireflies prisoner long enough to write a poem.
She was not in that poem, but this one.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Not Available at Lowes’ Garden Department

Dianne and I grow good omens
in our garden.

Admittedly she does most of the work.
I spread the manure.

We cut bouquets to give to our friends
when they fear dying.

Or when they invite the four riders of the apocalypse
to gallop through their living room.

God admonishes us for giving away
the beautiful blooms

before the bees finish pollinating
and the good omens go to seed.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


When doctors pushed
sound waves
into my body
the computer screen
displayed abstract art
instead of internal organs.

I explained
it is not the equipment
that is at fault.
I tended to tie myself
into knots.

The nurse told me
tie myself into knots
is just an expression
and cannot
really take place
inside the body.

I deferred to her greater
medical knowledge
then tried again.
It was all the violent
and disparaging words
stuffed in my childhood ears
that I could not digest
which created
a coral reef structure
inside my body’s ocean.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


My original body
I left behind in Paul’s coat closet.

It is not that I took someone else’s body
like filching a leather jacket

but I fashioned a new body
on a page from a Strathmore drawing tablet

with a 2H pencil
4B pencil and a kneaded eraser.

If I had realized the gray pallor
my efforts rendered

I would have spent my time
with Prismacolor Premiere pencils.

This result does not preclude
a newer drawing of a newer Prismacolored body

once my artistic hand
becomes accustomed

to my well defined
grayscale muscles.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Dear Desert

What I took
as stretch marks
you bear on
your belly
from birthing
the human race
was cracked
age lines
discolored with
sun spots
tectonic faults.

Beautiful still
in spite of
or because of
the danger
you might
once more
but this time
with sandhill cranes
to sound
the recall
so you may
return us
to a molten state
and reshape
humanity anew.

The bees
crawling from
the chollas’
magenta blooms
means you remain
sweet on us.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Oh The Places That You’ll Go

Paul raises more curtains
than his house possesses.

It requires him to open more doors
than neighborhood walls hang.

All of this effort to help Ellie
shatter a glass ceiling or two

with nothing more than a couple
of rose petals and crown of rose thorns.

It is not woke culture.
It is not cancel culture.

It is giving a friend a leg up
to combat systemic inequalities.

It is a little bit breaking and entering
to let natural light shine in.

It is paying it forward.
It is payback for the factory floor.

It is a risk-benefit analysis put in play.
It is a piñata bottom line.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The title is a direct take from Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, the Places You’ll Go, which is a popular graduation present for parents to give their children entering adulthood. I mean to say I received my copy after university graduation a long time ago.

Stealth Mode

You are
the twenty-seventh
coming of the Christ.

No one prophesied it.
Unlooked for
you quietly do good.

You learned your lesson
the first time
and do not antagonize

the church into seeking
a political remedy
for your anti-establishment leanings.

You wish to be
under social media’s radar
not particularly desiring

the world to appreciate reincarnation
or that there are
more than second chances.

This go-round
you present yourself
as non-binary

but continue to live and teach
the Golden Rule
and its platinum variations.

I am saddened that something happens
each time you turn thirty-three.
A car accident.

A drive-by shooting.
Some cross or another
to come down from.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Going Home From The Park

I pulled a robin from my throat.
I set it in my child’s red wagon.

My child sat next to the robin red breast
in the red wagon.

She petted the bird like it was a dog.
The robin rolled over for a belly scratch.

I pulled the red wagon out of the parking place
and into a parade.

A parade bereft of clowns.
The parade marshaled several marching bands.

I pulled the red wagon into line
behind the tuba players.

Alabama. Crimson Tide. Um-pah! Um-pah!
Roll Tide. Roll down the street.

The tuba players pushed milky white notes
out of their brass instruments.

Their swiveling marching routine
blended the notes into an aural milkshake.

My child in the red wagon clapped.
She gulped down the music.

The robin sang in competition
rather than in harmony.

When the parade reached our apartment
I bent-arm signaled a right turn.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul labels the night Bad.
The night brushes off the label.

The label floats on the wind
until the wind drops it onto a patch of ground.

The label sticks to the grass.
It turns the grass black as night.

The earth opens up in that spot
and an oozing tar pit appears.

This is an effort by the earth
to conceal the label.

Covering the label Bad in tar
so it cannot be read by passersby.

Paul happens by the tar pit.
It bubbles and spits some tar on his favorite shirt.

Abstractly the tar-spatter spells out
the word Bad on Paul’s shirt.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney