Distant blue seems close.
Top cover.

Farther than
the descending sun.

This mesa solitude.
This waining.

My love brings them closer.
My love dances.

No steps codified.
Silly human.

Emulates the curl of smoke.
Emulates the miles.

Hears the orchestra—
adagio in thrasher alerts.

Cadence comes and goes.
Cholla stuck.

A single needle removed.
Released from its former self.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


Merry Christmas to all the celebrators of the holiday. Merry Saturday to everyone else.

Before a Walk

The thrasher’s tweedle-eet
startles me awake.

The apple tree
does not care if I acquire knowledge.

I read each incandescent leaf
of a poetry book

while eating potent cereal
without the fear of added sugars.

There are no curtains to pull aside.
Sunrise invites itself in.

Why do train conductors
not spark and shock people as they take tickets?

Such questions afflict me
in the time between stars and blue sky.

I never call my dog a bad name
because she never calls me a bad name.

When I place my bowl in the sink
my dog knows it’s time to go to the door.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Saying I Love You

Think of all the straight paths
that raindrops take
that are deflected by tree leaves
and the leaves of other small plants and bushes.

I say this to illustrate
that there is no direct route
to where what one loftily says
is absorbed by another who is grounded.

I remember you were as severe
as granite rock cleaved into two
by tectonic forces beyond my imagining
along the fault line of my sins.

Which is worse. Stuffing words in your ears?
Or stuffing words in your mouth?
Or the entwining of spirits that takes place
no matter how casual the sex?

If it was in my power I would have your image
stamped on the coins of the land.
Real money. Not some commemorative minting
sold on infomercials at odd hours.

That is I find the absence of your body
adjacent to mine for a few hours a day distracting.
And I and fond of observing how you extract joy
from studying fledgling thrashers on the cholla.

I think. I think we should try conversation
to see if it leads to knowing what shelf
the milk is stored on in the refrigerator
and who claims the Eggo waffle when the toaster pops.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Four A. M.

When Paul
told me
Four A.M.
came early
I pictured it
at the house
at Three Fifty-Two
and ringing
the doorbell
before either of us
had a cup
of tea
or heard
the first
from a thrasher.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


The debate cut its teeth
on the stone wall
and a solitary fright feather
drifted down
on an uneven path
where a boy crossed over.
It caused him to halt
with one foot on each side,
believing a snow flake
had fallen.
He lifted his head skyward,
mouth opened
to catch flurries,
but saw in heaven’s
persistent window
the mirror of his grave
freshly dug in the thick
cemetery grass.
He thought of his mother
crying out in grief
and wished to comfort her
but could not
un-straddle himself
from the stone wall
to return to his adobe home
through the landscape
thick with cholla
and the thrashers
that nested in them.
In this straight
he appealed to his
guardian angel for release
from spiritual obligation,
this errand of solace
for the bereft.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney


When Paul first woke
he was pretty sure he only dreamed he woke.

He realized he truly woke
by rolling over and looking out the window.

The thrashers fed their young in the nest.
He rolled back over to face his girlfriend.

Her side of the bed was empty.
Paul realized he had no one left to support.

His memories of that wretched moment
told three totally different stories.

The back of his mind stated all of them were sick lies.
Paul sat up and his head swirled.

He looked out the window
to a vacant spot in the driveway.

There was a map he needs in the glove compartment!
But there was a rip in the driveway where the car should be.

So the car needed mending.
Or was it his memory of the car that needed mending.

In the bathroom mirror a bandage covered his forehead.
Removing it revealed a long gash and seventeen stitches.

A false nurse appeared by his bed.
A real nurse appeared in his false room.

The thrashers were gone.
A glaring light daggered his brain.

Paul reclined in the bed and returned to sleep,
so he might wake from a different dream.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Sorted By Author

I went to the foothills to get away from people.
People found and surrounded me.

All those folks attempted
to burn off pandemic stress,

political election year stress,
spare-tire-accumulating stress.

I sought solitude.
I sought thrashers and cactus wrens.

Why was I the one who yielded the trail
to unmasked walkers, joggers, and mountain bikers?

Away is now a half mile farther from home
than it once was,

with the national parks and monuments
closed to the public,

with bookstores closed
and no chance to peruse the stacks.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tumbleweed Church

We unyoke two Coopers Hawks
in the Sandia Foot Hills.

Downed doves bend flower stems
on the disassembling.

Undressed cactus skeletons
catacomb small beetles.

A burst of dandelion puffs.
A sudden gust starbursts the sky.

We are beautiful here
so far from the sting of buzzwords.

A rock blossoms with a thrasher bloom.
A tweedle-leet alerts the faithful to our presence.

This tumbleweed church. This rabbitbrush hall.
Unpolished fossil vuggs in the rising walls.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Snow Will Fill It Next

The empty nest
is a bird nest
in the cholla
outside our bedroom.
The thrashers left it
after their fledglings
flew up to the roof top.

This is the third time
this summer
the nest has filled
and emptied.

I think the thrashers
build the nest taller
over the previous egg shells.
The nest looks
more like a twig and stick
high rise
at this point.

Though I try,
the cholla’s arms
prevent me
from peering down
into the bottom
of the nest.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney