Kara Goughnour

Example Proving We are Never Safe

In the teasing dark of morning,
girl with hands dried like the white-dust rot
of forgotten orange stands under the lamp-light
rays at the station’s farthest end,
where men with hoodie strings pulled taut
like police nooses smoke joints not-so-secretly,
where men in suits pace before dates
or job interviews or just because
man is known to love walking over
the most ground he can.
Girl with body like a dagger wrapped
in dining cloth slips her phone out of pocket,
checks train times, counts seconds before
speed walk along sparking train slowing
before landing where lone man stands,
glancing through girl’s shadow
into some simile or metaphor of world
where girl wants him or maybe knows his name.
Girl with head like a burst grape, ear canals gushing
with headphone-hip-hop to beat
the winter down, joins man on platform
at the minute the train is due, circumferences him
like a gnashing gator stands at his feet, like his hands
are Floridian deep water glossed with moss
and flies. Like touch from man is drowning
if it holds you long enough. Man pools
into girl’s vision with a claiming wave of hand.

When is the train due?

                                                                      Now.

Maybe we should move to the other side.
When the tracks have snow on them,
it means they’re not using the tracks.

                                                           It’s snowing.

It’s actually not heavy enough to sit
on the tracks like this, considering the
trains run often. I’m serious, the tracks
aren’t being—

Man talks like girl isn’t oozing back into herself,
like girl and man at trainstop in morning are likely
friends. Girl holding twenty-three years
of misplaced trust like dead deer dragging
enters train on the right side at the right time,
cradles her head like the man’s glance is an arrow
through it, cinches her hood over hat embroidered
with workplace logo, with red-apple target bobbing
to train-rustle, to headphone rapper’s fast lips clapping
like bear trap, Baby, you love me so. You just
don’t know it yet.

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

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