Free of Hollow Laughter

Paul avoided people
soothed by violence.

He avoided the safety
their violence provided

sure it represented
the enforcement of conformity.

Paul saw the blue women
bruised by this safety.

How they conformed
to words in a black book

and not the impulses
in their hearts.

He wandered into the wild
sure their violent safety

would drive them all to whiskey
and madness.

He did not look back
at the land cleared of trees.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Tapered Block

Some capitalist song
sang my friends into enemies.

Maybe I should not blame the song
but my lack of attention

to what my friends truly value
or to my own ability for self-deception.

I saw greed wedge forth
a golden pig-god rooting around in the dirt—

disguised as Survival of the Fittest
with all of its frightened violence and rationalizations.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Lights Go Out

On a bedstand
a sprig of lavender dries

over a photo of Father
wearing one of his rare smiles.

A curtain of song
darkens a quartet of windows.

Liberated,
Lori’s hair falls past her shoulders.

From another room,
the news describes the violence

of the ignored
refusing to be the ignored any longer.

She whispers a prayer
for the protesters and law enforcement.

The sky reddens.
She fears the phone may ring.

She settles into her bed.
A block of ice.

The lavender scent
flashes images of her very first dog.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Three Second Burst

I purchased a skiff
and painted eyes on the prow
so it would guide me
through the seas of sleep.

The unimaginable regularly appears,
blows storms through my dreams.
To prepare me, my angels say.
I have met the ruthless segment of humanity.

I met a hungry soldier in a time of war
who used a grenade launcher to herd geese close
then killed every one of them
with his armored personnel carrier’s machine gun.

I cannot say the preparation
my dreams sent me
equipped me to handle
this real life equivalent.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney