Small Town Blues

When we split this town

we can live and leave devils

in pitiful mess.



The Third Last Time’s a Charm

Last summer we were

the safest mistakes;


cry-on-the-couch poets.

Our hearts beat for waiting.


You didn’t fight fair;

Your head dissecting, the room


sinking into night,

shoulders crashing


hips, love, lips

and lungs weaving.


I woke up next to a bad habit,

to teeth stained with apologies,


sour bottle, a burnt bridge or two,

and you, heart intact.


In the light, you looked

like a teenage vow I’d sing


and swallow;

a golden tongue, heavy


with blood

on hotel sheets.


The last time felt like a double bed,

wet-lipstick sips


and you; wide-eyed body and

splintered-headboard breath.



Deleting My Number at a Red Light Just Over the PA Line

Your heart strings feel every Spring;

hurt, swallow, expand,

hold it in.


Years have passed.

Lungs believe

every breath is a phase.


Say, Breathing is temporary;

        a yawn will do

        anything to feel alive.


You wear out your jaw.

Poke holes in the raw diaphragm

so each breath collapses.


You keep numb,

counteract love with a kiss.

Say, Someday we’re all going to die.


Say, You were everything.

       You were the strain of two muscles waiting

        and every motion in between.


If I ripped my body open,

would you find anything to keep?


Kara Goughnor is a queer writer and documentarian currently unpacked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the 2018 winner of the Gerald Stern Poetry Award and has work published or forthcoming in Pamplemousse Literary Magazine, Oyster River Pages, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Girls/Girls/Girls! Zine. Follow her on Twitter @kara_goughnour


August 14, 2018


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