The Poetry Of.
Kenneth P. Gurney..........................
PLEADING FOR A SECOND CHANCE
Erin knew all she was to him
was large, soft breasts and a hole
to fill his pleasure.
All he was to himself was
slurred words, a drunk's stumble,
a pink slip waiting to happen.
She knew she was nothing much.
Just a plain girl from Texas hardscrabble,
a listener of old vinyl records:
Leadbelly, Kate Smith, Woody Guthrie.
And a faded paisley dress worn
with white socks washed dull grey.
He dreamed himself big things,
but failed so at all the small things
that he answered his inner critic with beer
and his praise of her routine
on the silver pole, the way she worked
extra fivers out rough necks and roustabouts.
She shook off the free feels, the cat calls
but the word whore left a stain
on her skin, her memory of church bells.
But every time she ran away
seeking steady warmth, she returned
to his heat lightning, his thunder,
his calm after the storm, the prairie
in bloom or burning.
THE STREET IN THE RAIN
She carries no umbrella, no slicker,
no hurry to avoid getting wet.
She attracts more drops, larger drops,
stands in the middle, among the splattering
where the air turns grey, distorts
the view of houses, parked cars, church.
She stands with arms transfixed:
plié, arabesque, pirouette.
A breeze picks up. The black madonna
sheds tears against her protective glass.
Leaves fall. A wash slides past tires,
carries old beer cups and plastic water bottles
to the grating, the sewer, the storm surge
rushing over Delphi's feet.
Delphi's shoes, red canvas, tennies, sopping
wet, squishy as she makes her way
into the church, the squeak of wet rubber
on polished floorboards; her rainbow visible
as the sun emerges from behind spent clouds
to flood the sanctuary with colored light.
I am stuck not knowing
if she will arrive:
not in a timely fashion
or late, but at all.
I picture her face, her smile,
her penchant for red wine.
I fear for her, though I tell myself
not to—she's a big girl, a woman
In my mind I draw a moustache
of my mental image of her face
as revenge for my worry.
I would like to describe to you
her walk, how her breasts sway,
her hips move, how the scar
on her knee glares through
her hose—how her shadow
enjoys detaching itself
from her feet to sneak over
to the ice cream vender
and purchase a fudge cycle.
I remind myself this is New Mexico
and time differs from clocks
and protocols and the conventions
of courtesy I learned in Chicago.
In my mind's eye I view her
checking her cell phone—
not for a call, but for the time—
see her expression of dismay
as she realizes she left me
alone in the park,
two frisbees in hand
for my first attempt
at a fling.
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