Parsed Conspiracy

Quiet is kept.

The safe it is kept in
requires five tuns of the dial.

The man who knows the combination
knows his wife is sleeping
with his best friend.

He believes his best friend is after
the five numbers
and not his wife’s affection.

He doubts his wife knows the five numbers
but doubt cuts both ways—
what if she does.

The man knows his best friend
has never gotten him drunk
or recklessly waved guns around.

The quiet he values so much
he now rarely takes out of the safe.

His turbulent mind suffers.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


Death Valley
is not the biblical Valley of Death.

The Valley of Bones
is a place paleontologists work

excavating dinosaurs—
not the twenty-seventeen adventure movie.

Death dressed in flesh
walked all three

thumbing for a ride in a car
with air conditioning.

The air conditioning immediately broke
in every car Death entered.

If you (on your own)
manage to cross the alkaline ground

you have proved
to be worth your salt

since your parched lips
and skin will be crusted in its dust.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney


I sent my poems out to make money.
Begrimed they came home after happy hour.

Most of what they earned they drank.
Tall pints of Guinness with shamrocks twirled in foam.

Since they were not drunk
I figured they were not good providers.

Many of them worked
for server minimum wage plus tips.

My poems were most comfortable in coffee shops.
The best tippers do not practice that skill in coffee shops.

My miscalculation was the value of my poems.
I thought they were at least thirty dollar an hour poems.

I thought they were a hundred K salary plus benefits poems.
I thought they were lucrative stock option poems.

I placed the handful of coins my poems brought home
in a green glass mason jar.

If I dumped the coins in a tumbler
they would not measure a single finger.

My poems were not ashamed
about their lack of earning power and tech skills.

My poems knew their value
like Vincent van Gogh knew his paintings’ value.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney