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Three Poems by Kenneth Gurney


Starless

I came across Night

sitting at the bus stop, moping,

as if it had misplaced a forest

or all the snow in Greenland.

To cheer Night up, I offered it

my last Snickers bar,

but it took offense to the laughter

I wore as a long red scarf.

Since this was a bus stop,

I asked Night if it needed bus fare,

but it stared at an oblique puddle

of indecisions earlier travelers left behind.

As I was about to leave, get back on my way,

Night cried out like hungry baby birds,

eyes closed, hair all astray,

and I couldn’t bring myself to go.

In the moment of my taking a seat next to Night

upon the bus stop bench

the street emptied of all traffic—

both motorized and pedestrian.

I felt there were only wrong turns from here

as all the traffic lights started blinking

all three colors simultaneously,

so I remained as immobile as a glacier.

Something unseen to me must have happened

because, all of a sudden, Night

unfurled wings and flew off into the sky

as if it was never waiting for the bus at all.

————————————————

Borrower

He managed to dress a little

before finding the kitchen,

but only because he remembered

this is not his house.

She gives thanks for the small favor

of his using a knife instead of his finger

on the marmalade—his neanderthal

moxie is most of what she likes about him.

He stares at her fish in the tank

on the counter that divides the kitchen

and the dining room. He feels those fish

swimming through his arteries and veins.

She sprinkles something on his eggs

that might be fish food, but he knows

that thought registers only because

his brain has not yet vacuumed up the fuzz.

There is a long silence until sliced bread

pops from the toaster, then there is the scrape

of a buttered knife plowing over the browned bread

and the setting of the knife on the butter dish.

Once sitting opposite each other,

their coffee garners most of their attention.

They are not morning people.

They are not morning­after people, either.

As she sips, she questions convention

that the third date is the have sex

or break up date, when she really isn’t sure

she wants to face him over coffee

at this early hour.

As he sips, he queries sports media

to learn about the conclusion of the world series game

he surrendered to see that chick flick last night

because it was the third date

and he was sure it would end up like it did.

The autumn morning chills her nipples

to emboss her cotton pajama top.

He imagines a shower together

or, at least, the loan of her toothbrush.

————————————————

Sleep is the only crib for an adult

The mind shuttles clouds

into shapes and out of them

so they may form other shapes.

The clouds tolerate this for a time,

like Jenny tolerates the baby’s grasp

upon her buttons, undoing

and attempting to fasten.

I doze with the August grassy smells

turbulent around my nose,

the rough wool blanket upon the ground,

the alder tree’s shadow

painting my face.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. He emcees

the Adobe Walls open mic at Page One Books and is the founding editor of the Adobe

Walls anthology of NM poets. His latest collection of poems is Curvature of a Fluid Spine.

To learn more visit kpgurney.me


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