Greener Grasses

In my month of tending family plots
in the village cemetery
I noticed not one member of my family
rested for eternity within this gated community.

My tendency to open whiskey bottles
folks left for the dead
went unnoticed
as acorns fell from stately oaks.

I set shot glasses into the sod
and filled the clear glass to the white line
only to learn my efforts turned
a stray dog into a lush.

I wondered if the little dolls
leaned against gravestones
felt abandoned by the survivors
or were happy to be by their loved one?

Once they wilted, I removed all the flowers
that failed to fill open wounds
of the huddled bereaved
who muttered words they meant to say in life.

Some days whispers licked my ears
and I thought the dead a bit forward
with all their advice on how to outlast
bottles and jukebox dancing to last call.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Unfound Millions

My diligent ancestors
built a farm out of the wilderness
back when central Illinois
was wilderness.

At the time there was no
nearby town
so they were not
on the first Illinois maps.

My not-diligent ancestor
drank too much whiskey
every day of his life
and did foolish things while inebriated.

He once drove a team of horses
into the root cellar
mistaking its open doors
for horse barn.

All the horses died.
The fact he did not die that day
was a firm indication of the depth
of great grandmother’s Christian devotion.

If my not-diligent ancestor
had been born back
when there was no town nearby
whiskey would not have been available.

I never understood my diligent ancestors
where family history explained
that my not-diligent ancestor
always had money for whiskey and cigarettes.

Back in his life span
cigarette packs had baseball cards.
I searched musty boxes for days
seeking Honus Wagner and Cy Young.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Paul Creates Two Stacks of Documents

The one on the right is standard letter sized
eight & a half by eleven sheets
all white with black inkjet print
and stacks neatly as if ready
for a box.

The one on the left is random sizes
shapes colors from little cards
with cute mice eating seeds on them
to a drawing of a map
that emulates the world
as seen by Amerigo Vespucci
but in bright colored pencil
instead of faded ink.

The right stack could be poems
based on the irregular
amount of words and letters
and the spacing on them.
Eight hundred and twenty three sheets
all with a date from the calendar year
twenty-twenty.

The threat is the paper shredder
on a short table in between
the two stacks.

The threat is the last orders
(will and testament)
that spells out
in plain English
to destroy a life’s work.

These two stacks are just the beginning.
One studio closet is full
of manuscript boxes
and several portfolio cases.
And that does not count the walls
hung with framed work
or poems push-pinned onto plaster.

Paul opens a whiskey bottle
and pours himself a drink.
He swishes it about his mouth like Listerine.
Then swallows.

The power button on the shredder
glows blue after he presses it.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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

Pieces Falling Into Place

In your bedroom
a package of chocolate chip cookies
rests on the unkempt sheets
waiting for you to eat the surviving half.

From the swollen cookie crumbs
in the bottom of a nightstand tumbler
that smells like whiskey
I deduce it will be later today

when you right-swipe
more photos of women
a couple years younger
than the fifty you recently turned

so the money you spent
on condoms is not wasted.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Florida

Florida intruded upon Paul’s dreams.

It sent four astronauts skyrocketing
inside a Saturn V.

Spider thread tethered the rocket
to the northeast corner of Paul’s bed room ceiling.

Florida annexed Paul’s major league baseball aspirations.

The aspirations were way past their freshness date.
A bit fermented, like a peach five days on the ground.

Paul’s shower-head sprayed him with whiskey.
The Saturn V reached orbit.

Florida directed the incidental music in Paul’s background.

A heptagon nebula blinked each time it was tapped.
It wanted leaches to drain excess gas out of its polygon.

The nebula wished to form stars, but not ignite them.
It planned to create the perfect constellation in darkness.

Florida picked dead flies out of the craters of the moon.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney