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The Poetry Of.
Kenneth P. Gurney.......................


The man on the corner
desires some expression,
shouts, Jesus. Oh, God!
then deliberately applies
all sixty-four colors of chalk
to a single off-white rectangle
of July hot concrete.

Chi and Rho. Book of Kells.

A faithful reproduction
of the illuminated monogram.

A call to the fishheads
entering the church
of the black madonna.

Zoomorphic emblems,
two by two, a plank,
wooden beams
deviate from the original:
divine inspiration, cuneiform
stone tablets, Akkadian,
Hammurabi's grandson,
a flood of fresh water,
crisp ideas, pristine people
exit mount Ararat.

The man on the corner
concludes his rapture,
his state of grace; sips
from a water bottle,
basks in the ringing glow
of Sunday morning
church bells.


Because I would not let
my daughter eat pancakes
smoothered with maple syrup
she died and went away—
her friend Billy tells me so.

Which, really, is less hurtful
than the blue haired church lady
who tells me I must be evil
or God would not have taken her.

The people who sit in the graveyard
with fresh flowers and ready handkerchiefs
say nothing to me, which, for now,
blesses these moments with memories
I cannot reach in conversation.

I have not spoken her name since....

Her name rests under my tongue
like a cough drop opening my lungs
to breathe—deliberate breaths
where counting slowly one to six
occupies that part of my mind
that would otherwise pray.

Larka calls my attention
to the sparrows' screech,
to the heave of wings on the wind,
to the Judas nature of glass
protecting houses from what's elemental.

Then she asks if she may stop by later:
cook a meal, wash my dishes,
light a candle.


The weight of the wet sandbag boy
beaches the whale upon the gull,
bends feathers out of shape,
no more flying, only a hop
and the nervous look
of a bull's-eye expecting
an arrow in flight.

Imagine the apartment
separating itself
from off-white walls,
all the light bulbs tinting pink,
red, the pizza stain
on the couch, the beer warm
and stale toward midnight
as the last streetside neon flickers out.

Alone, through all the growing fat,
she wears the stares of righteous strangers
over the month of Sundays,
competes with younger sisters
for attention, distraction,
giggles at fetish movie notions,
survives the storks' return to the Elbe.

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