Author: Kenneth P. Gurney

All day long
light and dark
combat each other
or dance a steamy tango.

I think they are angry
at being separated
at birth: identical twins
with metaphysical connections.

But what is once broken
remains broken.

Exhausted, light
lays down and takes a nap,
while dark settles
into the recliner
to watch reruns
of the rain.


To see Kenneth P. Gurney’s biography, publication credits and available books visit

Often an inchoate voice screams
from inside the whitewashed shed
and, for a time, we ascribe it to Yahweh,
as none of the tools seem capable
of such a sound.

There is the rumor that great-grandfather
beat his children in that shed
with his belt and sometimes the buckle,
but there is no record of it
in grandfather’s diary.

So maybe, it is the ghost of every time
grandfather never said I love you
to grandmother, but instead
remained as silent as the corn
and now his ghost yells from purgatory
trying to learn the words
that unlock heaven’s gate.


To learn more about Kenneth P. Gurney visit

Gurney is editor of Adobe Walls, a semi-annual anthology of New Mexico poetry.

The gods gather in the gloaming
show the conductor their tickets
as they board the train.

The bulging skin beside their eyes
holds all the tears they never wept
at all the broken bindings.

The green forest blues as yellow-gold
takes itself from this world
without a glance over its shoulder.

So place a dime over the pinhole
of the sun’s light that reaches earth
and let the dark settle down.

Time tires of progress, of motion,
of its divine doggedness
and sense of faded purpose.

Alarms, long ago, lost their desire
to ring bells. The last bride
savors her one and only kiss.


To learn more about Kenneth P. Gurney visit

Gurney is editor of Adobe Walls, a semi-annual anthology of New Mexico poetry.

The Blue Woman throws pots
on the wheel of the galaxy,
muddies the stars, but cleans them
when done.

She attempts to make one pot
to hold all the love in the world,
another pot to contain all the hate—
both spill over regularly.

The Blue Woman notices
as one pot fills up the other 
tends to empty, notices 
when one spills over
the other fills up 
leaving no mess to clean.

Visit Kenneth P. Gurney’s poetry Web site,

She crushes all of her crystals into a fine dust
then spreads the glitter on the floor of a dark cave she sometimes enters.

I meet her on the day that she sits upon a rock
at the edge of a mountain glade where I often hide from the world.

It is the day the butterflies emerge from their long change
and their color lifts the mind skyward.

She holds out a skeleton she says she carried
all the way from her closet to view in this particular light.

I see she carries four walls, a ceiling, a floor around her
and her beliefs set them in the hillside for Hecate,

near the discarded antlers Artemis left as a marker,
for Selene, bulging in her gibbous state like a pregnant girl.

She tells me a dragon scarred the rock on the heavenly path above.
She tells me she is a shapeshifter cursed into a singular human form.

She tells me she loves the shifting shadows of the windblown leaves
with which to hide her sins, her curious faith in people.

In a moment I realize I am a satellite, but whether to her,
to her mysterious altar, or the sacred rock she sits upon is unknown.

Myths abound, especially through the sudden curtain of electric rain
that briefly falls, moves me from open air to the rock

under the leaves where she sits. Where, without realizing it,
I enter the house she set within the mountain

through the door of her unstained hug: the oblique release
of the flight carried in the grip of a winged snake.

Visit Kenneth P. Gurney’s poetry Web site,

Jesus sits in the garden
pen in hand, New York Times
crossword half filled in,
his mind on forty-seven down:

He likes this alone time,
this slight diversion
as events catch up with him:
the machinations of a scheming
father take time to play out.

Five across: “Well Done!”

Jesus thinks about this awhile,
scratches his chin. Four letters.
No idea.

He takes a break for a moment,
listens to the sparrows talk,
the hum of bees as they enter
and exit daffodils.

Twenty Across: Domain, nine letters.

He thinks of a thousand URLs,
how in physics a domain
is a discrete region of magnetism
in ferromagnetic material
or how in mathematics it is
the set of possible values
of the independent variable
or variables of a function.

He’ll come back to that one,
like the others. It might be a while.


He folds the page up, tucks it
under a rock for someone else to find.
Slides the pen back into his shirt pocket.

Judas arrives with the soldiers, finally.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s poetry at

Lisa massages her breasts
in her sleep, dreams of mother’s
milk, a fragment by Thoreau,
opportunity swinging open on hinges.

The wild horses of the night
graze in the heavens,
each bite they take of sky sparks.

Lisa lives in a house of chaos
without a roof, without a ceiling,
with the finger prints of many men
and the green stain of their money.

A colt cuts from the herd,
gallops down moonbeams and enters
Lisa’s room while she sleeps.

Her hand rubs her crotch 
in the throws of a nightmare 
about the silver pole spearing her, 
pinning her to a skin tone tree trunk.

The colt nudges Lisa with its nose,
moist breath speckles her face,
she rolls, opens her eyes.

With her nakedness aglow in moonlight,
Lisa rises from under the covers.
The colt moves through the house,
moves to the living room.

The colt’s hooves strike through the carpet,
splinter the floorboards, while Lisa
holds its tail as a guide.

Through the growing hole, she spies 
the dreams she buried or cast away,
the dreams this house kept safe for her,
kept by the sofa where she once experienced love.

The colt gallops off to the sky, as Lisa pulls 
dreams out of this hole as if out of a drawer 
and clothes herself, begins to outshine the moon.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

Delphi sings harmony with the wind
as it careens around the corner
of the house and rustles the dogs
like leaves upon a tree.

Meanwhile, the clouds drift
from southwest to northeast, change 
shape, darken, as we hope for rain.

Delphi reads the clouds
far better than words upon a page,
when she loses herself 
upon the wind.

This is my poem for you,
the clouds say, as lightning flashes
and thunder shakes the hillside.

Delphi tries to teach me
to read the brilliant strokes of light
against the dark whorl of sky,
as if it is a fingerprint upon the air.

But the reverberating crash 
flutters my eyelids, and the dogs 
scratch the door, beg to be let in the house.

Delphi takes my hand, extends my fingers,
traces the ridges of air, like letters
on a gravestone.

This is where the story ends, every time.
She does not speak in metaphors or allegories.
My illiterate love lets her hold me 
up against the storm.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

I traveled this far.

I didn’t mean too, but, 
well, you know.

I mean to do it:  

take the cold dust 
expelled from young stars—
add breath, water.

You have to let go 
from the end of day six on.

It may seem cruel,
but, no, it isn’t.

Move on to the next one.

I can’t explain.
It’s what I do.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

The nail-biting waitress
frets about how to sew 
back together 
the torn hem of the clouds.

She forgets to pour the coffee,
but the compassionate rain
fills, with french roast, the cups 
of all the patio patrons.

The trucker isn’t impressed
with parlor tricks, involuntarily
flexes his muscles, sends 
a thousand ships sailing toward Troy.

But the stripper, still up from last night,
hears the disjointed voices 
of angels gathering, warming up
for choir practice or Carnegie Hall.

And the Yankees hat philosopher
licks his lips in anticipation
of the exact moment of Rapture
being very close at hand,

so he gets up and leaves
without paying his tab,
unaware of the fact Saint Martha
presides at heaven’s gate today.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

The horses I know
do not call themselves Horse
or worry about their soul.

Arriving from the far pasture,
I approach the universe
with the idea of learning names,
instead of giving them –

haven’t quite forgiven the Bible 
for the cruel task it placed upon us.

Mary isn’t Mary, meaning bitter.  
She wasn’t ever.  She is Joni:
outgoing, fun loving.

There was a time 
when children reached puberty 
that there would be a ceremony 
and a new name placed upon them
by someone intimate with their
history of deeds.

Examine your life 
and tell me what your name is, 
not that label placed upon you 
within hours of your birth.

And if you feel 
a need for change,
I will host a party, 
a celebration,
a ceremony 
and commemoration
of what you know 
you should be called 
for a time ahead.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

We gather at the shores
of black waters
lapping ceramic cup rims,
in perfect knowledge
that all god wants
is someone to talk to.

He sits there, in the third chair,
newspaper folded back and ignored,
because there is laughter to be made
and tears to be shed,
with this small gathering of people.

God doesn’t have coin
for this pleasure,
but knows this is a test.
And he smiles,
as everyone scrambles
through purses and pockets.
And loose change is collected
and contributed to his espresso
and bagel.

If this space would allow it,
God would build a fire,
to keep us warm
from the chill of our words.
“Silly, lovable humans.
I created you perfectly,”
he thinks to himself,
then goes, ready
to conduct his day.

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at

She is the blue woman,
holding her breath,
                holding teardrops,
stroking the pearls
of her earrings,
searching for the right words
to return something.

Under her left arm,
a jar, that holds the river
where our war horses once drank.
        Terra cotta that contains
the answer for any thirst.

It is not the jar she has for you,
or for me, but for herself.
For the questions caught
on her dry tongue.

In her silence, the blue woman stands,
waiting an hour, before passing
a hand under her shirt,
        beside her breast.
A hand that removes the rib
she never wanted.

The blue woman holds the rib out to you.
Your hand never rises to meet hers,
is not there when she releases the rib
        and it clatters to stony ground.

But to prove her love for you,
                she offers you the jar
that holds the river.

“Shedding Centuries” was first published in the Adirondack Review

Read and listen to more of Kenneth Gurney’s Poetry at