Paul believed he gave himself away.
He sold himself to the highest bidder.

It felt good.
His body reacted without thought.

He thought if only he opened a window.
He thought if only he spoke.

A typed sentence of reason
rotated swiftly like a jump rope

like a string in theory
creating a sphere.

Paul had no memory of the evening.
He after-tasted words in his mouth.

Like shoe leather on his tongue.
Like dirt and sea making a salt marsh.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

No Tolerance

Lori carried a dust buster
as if it was a six-shooter in a holster.

Whenever she was around rude people
she quick-drew the dust buster

and sucked their ill tempered words
out of the air.

This earned Lori baleful gazes
from those rude people

who wanted their words to land
a knockout punch.

Lori had no trouble with this consequence
but wished to learn

how to empty her dust buster
so it was not a lumbering B-52

dropping its payload
in her trash bin with the city logo.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Good Shot

Paul is about to speak.
Surprise takes him.
It places a black hood over his head.
It shoves him in a getaway car.

Paul’s words stand in the queue.
They are ready to be uttered.
They do not understand the delay.
They are unsure what to do next.

Surprise sends me a ransom note.
The note sets a sum for Paul’s words.
The note states nothing about Paul.
It ends with the word Scream in a Halloween font.

I was not really listening to Paul.
He took too long assembling his words.
I had drifted into a replay of a Cubs game.
Bottom of the ninth. Winning run on third.

The sum was small enough,
I would pay to have Paul back.
But not just his words.
What was Surprise thinking?

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Much The Same

I stumbled on a tree root.
All my words fell out of my mouth.
All of them. The seldom used ones too.

Blanket, forget-me-not,
moon and trademark
stuck to my left arm.

They sunk below my skin
to become tattoos
in search of colors other than black.

Working late into the evening,
I picked up most of my vocabulary,
fearing a frost would wither my words.

Squirrels scurried over to the spill
and took words away
to bury them for a winter cache.

I cannot name
a single nut type anymore.
Or what it is that encases its edible kernel.

The tree roots soaked up many words.
The tree now pleads with me
when I trim its branches.

While relaxing in its shade,
the tree tells me how it feels
about squirrels.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

Both Hands

There are mountains.
They will not always be there.

Nor will love or blood.
Leaving is a constant state, so stop holding on.

If I understood how to be larger than myself
exile, death, and heartbreak would not affect me so.

A single hand clenches rage in a fist.
Two hands bowled fill with prayer and offering.

I cannot take back what has been said
or offer what has been unsaid for too long.

History is a human construction
made of words and interpretation.

Remember that. Words. And interpretation.
I urge you to write your own story. Win or lose.

I am leaving, now. I follow the mountains.
I use two hands to wave goodbye.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney