Bazooka Joe

The chains that supported
the saddles of the swing set
listened to our conversation
for a whole hour
which corresponded
to the amount of time
we pumped and rose
in pendulum motion—
our heads never reaching
the crossbar height.

The chains took notes
like minutes of a meeting
between the President
and Secretary of War
discussing strategy
for dealing with strangers
who smelled too good
to be true
while ignoring
the bubblegum wad
I pressed between two metal links
once the flavor was gone.

Each time I return alone
after dark to those swings
they recite our last meeting verbatim.
And during this performance
I hear you hold your breath
and never use my first name
preferring to use my
martial nickname.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Paul can’t sleep.
He sits up and the covers slump to his lap.
He grabs Peter Rabbit.
He is not too old for this comfort, though he is old.

He listens to the wind whip around the house,
to the heavy rain banging the swamp-cooler,
to the roof’s runoff trickling into the cistern,
to the house’s creaks and groans.

Paul thinks of his childhood, growing up outside Chicago.
How snow was always on the ground at Christmas.
How Halloween was safe for trick-or-treating kids.
How the movies were twenty-five cents a ticket.

He remembers the lake park and its swing sets.
How he would swing back and forth.
How he would swing up and down.
How he loved the timeless pendulum motion.

Paul falls back to sleep.
He still holds onto Peter Rabbit.
The covers remain off of his shoulders.
The swing’s rising and falling matches his breath.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney