Wilderness Permit

Paul lifts a pail.
Pours icy water over his skyward face.

October bugle calls
punctuate twilight.

Along the rocky lake shore
a campfire takes shape.

Trout filets fry in a skillet
and something doughy like sloosh.

Dora looks so good
in shades of brown and khaki.

Pine smoke is her favorite
perfume.

Even at its most quiet
nature does not pause

or rest content.
An owl appears above

on a branch.
Pierces a mouse on a bare spike.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Shattered Kind Of Sleep

Consciousness flickers
a black and white bird
from tree to tree.

Paul sinks to the ground
below a ponderosa
after staggering

a couple hundred yards
from his landing place
after a fall on granite.

Your sister comes to get you
repeats itself in his left ear
his right ear submerged in pine needles.

The ponderosa’s sap drips
There will be a tomorrow
upon his left cheek.

No one stands vigil.
Paul breathes in the shadows of dusk.
Night rotates the forest

and the mountain
back toward the clock-face sun.
Its cold light ricochets everywhere.

The stream works all shifts.
A big cat pads past him
being thirsty not hungry.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Foreshadowing

The trailhead plaque
warned of mountain lions
and bears.

A crow perched upon
the top of the plaque
cast dark shadows on the letters.

The presence of no one else
uninstalled the word intrepid
from my self-description.

I wondered if it was a good day to die.
I wondered if it was a good day
to catch a movie matinee instead.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

You Wonder Why I Am Not Home

I dropped my pants
in plain view of everyone watching.

There was no one watching.
I was in the wilderness.

I stood adjacent to the tree
that stopped my downward tumbling.

My tumbling started
when I forgot to pay attention.

The wisp of ice on the trail
gave me no warning.

Warning people is not part of ice’s
job description.

I dropped my pants
to be sure no leg bones were broken.

That proves my head hit the tree too
because when a femur breaks

it breaks out of its fleshy container
in a very messy no-standing-up manner.

The sun hurt my brain behind my eyes.
It was on its descent.

I began limping past the nausea.
The trail was mostly downhill

to the trailhead and the car
two point four miles away.

There was enough fresh blood
in the scrapes and cuts

to draw any animal with a good nose.
All predators have good noses.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Decomposition

In the forest
an idle car
accepts
the dew
that slips
past paint
into its dents
and dings
to spring
rust into life
so oxidation
may slowly
consume
the steel
leaving
rimless tires
and upholstery
to be covered
by wind
blown dirt
and leaves
to the berry bushes
that grow
from the seeds
the wind
and birds
drop off
or others
store
in the nooks
and crannies.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Josiah

I need a ride.
I do not have time to walk.

No one answers my calls.
My smart phone does not know who is available.

There is Lyft.
But money remains scarce.

The walk will do me good.
It may tire me out before I reach her grave.

A walk usually sorts my emotions.
Walking meditation is better than driving meditation.

Meditation is better than medication.
Today I need big medicine, man.

No, her grave is not on the rez.
It is up in the mountains.

One of those small family boneyards.
Pioneers from long ago.

It is up among the aspens.
I trespassed on some old claim.

Added her ashes to the earth.
One foot north of Josiah’s headstone.

Josiah’s last name is lost to time.
His headstone is cracked and weather beaten.

Numbers state seventeen-ninety-nine-dash.
He was born on my birth month and day.

There are four other unreadable markers.
Lichen splotched stones outline the size of the yard.

Her ashes are under one of those stones.
I scratched her initials onto that stone.

She is neither in nor out of the pioneer boneyard.
The aspens migrated over the plot.

No trail leads up there.
I start where a stream passes under the road.

My feet always know their way through the wild
to those stones among the aspens.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney