Location Sonnet

I may claim I moved off the reservation when I reached my majority, if you consider a ninety-eight percent republican Chicago suburb a reservation.

During my university semester in Germany, the locals refused to let me speak Auf Deutsch, so they might practice their English.

During that same semester, museum personnel misread my misprinted university ID card as Oxford instead of Rockford—I have dropped my R’s ever since, seeking to duplicate the benefits of misperception.

On our flight back to the U. S., a blizzard blanketed the midwest and east coast, so we were put in a holding pattern over the Atlantic. The plane got so small by the eighteenth hour, a hamster would not fit in that metallic tube.

I purchased my first cellphone when I lived outside Port Angeles, Washington. I walked to the top of the north hill overlooking the ocean to receive a signal.

When I lived in Taos, New Mexico there was no such thing as over-night delivery via Fed Ex or UPS or USPS. The family lawyers back in Chicago, despite their vast education and experience, could not fathom this.

I spent most of my one year living in Frederick, Maryland walking the Antietam battlefield. I cannot explain why I did not move to Sharpsburg, Maryland to shorten the commute.

Someday, in an effort to lose most of my sense of privilege, I think I should live in a location where I am the only white person for a hundred miles in all directions. Does such a place exist anymore?

Technically, as a white person, I am a minority in Albuquerque and in New Mexico as a whole. I never once felt minor.

Every summer day when the Albuquerque sunset paints the Sandia Mountains the watermelon color pattern that gave the mountains their Spanish name, I wonder why Nature fails to behave PC toward our African American citizens.

Albuquerque was named after Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque. I like to believe they dropped the first R for my benefit.

Albuquerque is nicknamed the Duke City. The Duke never visited.

In Albuquerque you learn the lovesick sound of roadrunners calling for a mate. At your most lonely, you never sounded that bad off, even with six pints of beer spilling your desperation on someone sitting next to you at the bar.

Twelve years in Albuquerque with its many Indian casinos on the city outskirts and I have never visited one to place a single wager. My biggest payoff on my Albuquerque bet was meeting Dianne.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy Independence Day (US) to you all. I trust you have lined up a joyous way of celebrating the 4th with plenty of friends of family no matter how much star spangled fireworks and festivities are in your day.

Sherman Alexie broadened my definition of a sonnet. I recommend reading his books whether poetry or novels.

My old (pre-Dianne) habit was to move every 1 to 4 years (usually 3 years) to a new location to explore the geography, history and culture. I am convinced the wanderlust had roots in tragedy with both searching and avoiding being part of the trauma process. Along the way I met a lot of really fantastic people, walked a lot of miles of trails, bicycled over 16,000 road miles, and learned I cannot adjust myself to fit in all cultures in the USA.

My tally is 9 states I have lived in. My favorite state is being in love with Dianne. New Mexico for all its poor ratings (48th, 49th or 50th in many government state rankings, such as education), is a beautiful place to live in with a great diversity of people. The only place I met a greater diversity was Washington D.C., especially on the National Mall with its tourists and locals and foreign & domestic politicians.

Love & Light



Thank you for adding color commentary
to my open mic performance
so the television audience knew
your interpretations of my Civil War allusions.

Thank you for the heat lightning above the desert grass,
the foolishness of your thunderous voice
booming curses over the draught stricken desert
that caused the rabbit brush to quiver perceptively.

Thank you for pointing out the iron ball
you wear about your ankle and drag along
as an impediment to your own slam poet glory
and explanation of your son’s two-eighteen batting average.

Thank you for the birds your house cat scares out of your yard
to decorate my trees like Christmas ornaments,
but I insist you maintain your cat within the boundary
of your titled land and the property lines you deem sacred.

Thank you for the woman standing in my latest poem.
She thought my living room was the event horizon
and escaped the black hole of your latest conspiracy theory
of the blighted deep state and an old testament marriage.

Thank you for your lack of gumption and preference to complain
so that your Ex got clean away on the tangerine contrails
of birds migrating north during the sun’s last light
toward the sound of the Taos hum, which I have never heard.

Thank you for the bitterness you chew
at your son’s absence from your life
and never let it grow into results we’d all regret
like the stumps that dot your yard.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


I lived in Taos for three years and never heard the Taos hum, though I met many people who claimed to have heard it. Wikipedia entry on The Hum.

I have had some bad neighbors during my adult life, but none like the character I conjured for this poem. My worst neighbor stuck a gun in my face and threatened me for saying hello, how are you doing to his wife. She fled soon after with the help of her family and lawyers.

Over my years I aided, in small ways, two women to get away from abusive husbands. Both of those men viewed the women with a concept of property ownership akin to slavery of old.

Once, when I lived in Colorado, I met a man who believed that because he owned property (land) he could do anything he wanted to the land, including burn it all to the ground to spite everyone who lived around him. His goal was to close the state road that ran through his property and lead to the mountain and national forest beyond his land from the rural highway. He wasted a lot of money on court cases against the state of Colorado and got into trouble of his own for erecting road blocks to stop traffic from driving across his land on the state road.

Although I participated in slam poetry for eight years, I rarely made it to the second round. Some of that is on me since I focused far more on writing, than performing. How much of it was my being an outsider compared to the core slam group, I cannot say. It makes sense that a familiarity of style and structure scores well, if the judges are chosen from the regulars. I always liked the saying at the beginning of the slams, “The point is not the points, but the poetry.” Even though I did not advance much and won only once, I had a good time and remember it all fondly.

Love & Light