Three Poems by Kenneth Gurney
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.
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