Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guest Poet: Kenneth P. Gurney


I feel quite incapable of declaring war on a small country
let alone a large country governed by a dictator.

In fact, all I seem to be able to accomplish is to rip the pages out
of a prize winning poetry book that I think is academic nonsense.

In their hunger, the pigeons mistake the torn bits of paper
as daily bread from a sad person on a park bench.

Though my description is close enough for that confusion
I take exception to my one coat pocket that is turned inside out.

Through a defect in my heart, malice leaks and the stray cat that laps it up
soon kills three birds and leaves them on the bench as bribes

to someone, anyone, who might remove the word stray
from its description and discard the cat’s sense of abandonment.

Upon reflection, declaring war would be an easy enough task.
It is winning the war that boggles my mind so much so

it becomes an end I cannot quite envision
through all the dense pages of self-help books I’ve read.

Now that I possess a book cover that covers nothing
except little bits of glue that once made the word binding relevant

I think a walk to the picture frame shop is in order,
but, mostly, because it is adjacent to the chocolatier

who creates such beautifully tempting window displays
that my fight to keep my waistline in check is for nought.

Half-Past Middle Age

I was up from midnight to three
reading a friend’s poetry manuscript—
which I love to do,
as I love puppies figuring out the world.

You know; the fall-on-their-face
kind of adorable that inhabits the overwhelmed
as they keep processing
the kaleidoscopic pentad of sensory input.

Since I am not young anymore,
I will miss that three hours of sleep—
especially as one p.m. nudges toward one-thirty
and the afternoon crashes into a nap.

My next-morning-lack-of-sleep grumpiness
is nothing to be afraid of
as long as you great me with a cup of Earl Grey
and some sympathy.

Which reminds me of a Janis Ian song
we listened to back in our college days
when music was served on vinyl platters
and the needle of our addiction grooved a turn table.


It was the crows blotting out the sun
that finally got the tears
roiling the floor of my breath
and I tried to measure the effluent
damage I’d done to my history
by holding on tight,
but calipers do not measure liquids
or the light they bend
or the depth of shadows.
I should have held
black irises to my nose sooner
and let sleep foreshadow
what is to come, but there is
no way I know to tame anxiety
or domesticate pain
into a beast of burden
that would help me
carry you to the moon
and, there, say goodbye,
as you left to take your place
under Valhalla’s wooden beams.

© Kenneth P. Gurney 2011

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA. He edits the NM poetry anthology Adobe Walls. To view his full biography, publishing credits and available books visit http://www.kpgurney.me/Poet/Welcome.html


  1. 'Half past middle age', with its 'when music was served on vinyl platters / and the needle of our addiction grooved a turn table.' especially resonates.
    'Grief' was so potentially heartbreaking that I am glad not to be grieving for anyone at the moment.
    Thank you for these.

  2. You made me think, and that's a good thing.


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