Three Poems by Kara Goughnour


New Year’s Bath

In which I am an unshucked oyster
snuggled into your firm shell.
In which the world known to us
is the white page of bath bathed
in bubbling orange watercolor,
you gripping my goosepimpled skin
the way a small child cups a tulip’s pink body.
In which I clean the house the next day,
hide each lingering happiness
behind your pillow for a bad day.
In your poems, you talk of death
and dying so often that when I clean
in your absence I scare myself.
I remind myself that I do this
out of love and not finality.
I remind myself that you dream
the residue of my warmth
while I ride pre-dawn trains
before you wake.
I remind myself of the bath,
us tucked into one another
like the architect of the thumb pushing
in the grainy window of a sandcastle.


Dreaming in Poetry; Waking in it, Too

You keep a book face down and open on your desk
to the few pages written by you.
You perch things like this,
in your peripheral, ask me to take
a few steps to the side.
You walk to the garden
and stand in the spotlight
of the flack of sun in the fence slats.
You are always bent
with the brunt back of work,
beehive holes burnt through
the black plastic-paint of your Bic.
This body begs to be worked by you,
in the morning’s smallest
cobblestone sun-spots falling hard
on our blades of curling shoulder;
in the morning’s last moments of soft love,
before you realize again all that needs doing.
When you curl my hand
around your thumb like a pen,
kiss each fingernail
like each soft bone of this body stings.


Beer, Cheese, and Serial Killers

I’ll take you out to dinner if we can pay
in lies we wanted to tell.
You say a man ate another man’s heart
just to feel like he was there with him
and I say I get it in a systemic way,
the way that implies I don’t want to eat
you, but that knows of the promise of it.
I say every good person I know is dead
or headed there and everyone who should
be dying seems eternal. I say my last lover
didn’t change his mind about marriage
when he met me and I can’t tell
if that’s romantic or not. When the tab comes,
you make change for the sake of it,
unstick each bill with a lick of your tongue.


Kara Goughnour is a queer writer and documentarian living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative and Professional Writing from The University of Pittsburgh. She is the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and has work published or forthcoming in Third Point Press, the Southampton Review, and over twenty others. Follow her on Twitter @kara_goughnour or read her collected and exclusive works at kara goughnour.com.