Wade In

Three nights in a row
I wrote a book instead of sleeping.

I drank caffeine free peppermint tea.
The tea was in a colorful Camel Corp cup from El Morro.

The whole time I wrote the book
I heard a shrill flute.

The brightest star dimmed
after I turned the desk lamp on.

The book had nothing to do with high school
or university friends and reunions.

In spite of that, the book started out:
Hullo, I have not seen you in a long time.

The main character spoke with impish glee
to a stranger he just met.

The stranger assumed he spoke to someone else.
The stranger ignored him while viewing Bright Angel Falls.

The water appeared to be honey
pouring out of a stone bowl.

copyright © 2023 Kenneth P. Gurney


It use to be I got inspired to write poems
while walking four to ten miles on the mountain.

If my dogs accompanied me, I got less inspiration
because I minded them instead of inspiration.

It was not that my dogs were not inspiring
but I was sick of writing dog poem variations.

I did find positive feedback from poetry readings
brought out the desire in me to write more popular poems.

But then I wrote poems from that part of my head
that wanted to write positive feedback poems

and it pandered to the likes and dislikes of the audience
instead of writing from the heart.

My heart was happy I walked four
to ten miles on the mountain each day

since that kept my heart in good shape
and it beat without obstruction.

My beating heart did not care if I wrote poems or not.
I liked it when the dogs came along because my heart beat lighter.

During my walks on the mountain
I paid less attention to the mountain

than to my recent human interactions
especially if they involved love or the lust form of love.

The mountain and the mountain forests
did not feel ignored by my inattention to them.

Occasionally I was so lost in replay of an interaction
I tripped and fell due to inattention to the mountain.

My falls did not bang poems out of my head.
Though they banged a poem or two into my scraped hands for typing.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Aspen Glow

Paul writes nature poems
on top of nature
in an act of literary graffiti.

The wind dismembers his poems quickly.
It mistakes the black ink
as industrial soot from all over the world.

Some days Paul writes city poems
on the natural landscape
to prepare it for urban sprawl.

The wind moves those poems around too
but more like paper litter
that flutters like dropped leaves.

He has lived in Taos New Mexico
for three years
and has no friends

from the Taos Pueblo
the Land Grant hispanic community
or the 60’s hippy generation.

He knows he moved to Taos
to stroke the mountain flanks
with his eyes.

To meet the ethereal beings
that live off of the hum
and draw rainbows down from the clouds.

A magpie lifts him out of this thinking
with a long sentence of magpie words.
He has not yet mastered magpie.

He begins writing a spirit poem
on the air in front of him
in a slanted sun script.

The magpie snatches the first line
flies with it up into an aspen
and drapes it on a branch like tinsel.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Race Gender Culture

Imagine, if my poems
shortly after being written
and edited at least once
chose a sexual orientation
where under every breath
while reading the poem aloud
a refrain of boy poem
or girl poem or bi poem
or trans poem and so on
struck your ears
and influenced your listening
beyond the words
on the page
regardless of how my mental voice
hung the words in the air.

I guess that can happen
when something becomes alive
through creative processes
like writing. But then,
I have heard poems
with racial identity
jammed under the arches
of m’s and n’s
and in the loops
of a’s and p’s.
Even though I felt those
same injustices or beauties
expressed by their authors
I believed it would be
a cultural transgression
for me to read those poems
aloud to an audience.

And now I wonder
how my poems got so political
about race, gender and culture
even when I write
about crafting a poem
while resting above tree line
with the added hope
of spotting bighorn sheep.

copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney


I like my dramas on the page.
I consume my life writing poetry.
I pinch the dead when they come to talk to me.
U. S. Grant chews cigars in my poetarium.
He admonishes me for calling him Sam.
His head sags when I mention Cold Harbor.
So many of the dead come to visit
I mix cultural references
while Grant blows smoke.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


On my November holiday, we stopped at Grant’s historic home in Galena, IL. The Illinois State Park service does a good job presenting the house with an informative tour. I had been there once before, maybe 30 years ago. It was nice to refresh my memory.

There are times when I write poems that it feels like the dead come to visit. I find it interesting how I can be both myself as interviewer and the dead visitor being questioned. Since I have studied so much of the Civil War, it is not surprising that figures from that time come to my poetarium.

Love & Light. Tree & Leaf.