Kara Goughnour

Death & Taxes

Death and taxes sit on a tiled line in tin basins.
A man holds them up to explain the difference,
wiggling each like to wriggling slabs of meat.
Death, he explains, is deep red and spices,
while taxes have pink and white polka dots of fat.

The man is like a balding father, cooing above
a strung mobile, dancing for a young thing that
doesn’t give a shit other than shit itself. He packs
onions into the circular ruts of his dull eyes to cry
at graves he dug himself.

He is a jolting frizz of blonde hair on a crotch rocket,
“Gas or Ass” stickers black out the back of the metallic helmet,
a leather jacket from Target over his embroidered polo and khakis.
I imagine him with black t-shirts under polo Superman style.

Deep v-necks with bold letters spelling out
“my bike isn’t the only thing that can go from zero to one-hundred,”
or maybe even “badass” stamped across flabby chest.
He says your womanly instincts say you don’t want birth control, really.

He says this spinach is the best health insurance you’ll ever see.
He folds the meat into a neat sandwich, force-feeds me one fighting bite at a time.

Wives of Spiders

The man at work who tells you
you need to smile more only has
the best of intentions. How degrading

must a joke be before a customer can touch or punch
your work-weaned arm? How many
more unsolicited opinions of what

constitutes as work and how your work
doesn’t fall into those categories
before you get your fifty-cent raise,

before you can stop considering
instant ramen a luxury?

In this arm, you hold everything wrong with yourself
in the eyes of others; this pliable straw, like a coffee stirrer
brewing the blood in your arm with the inability for life.

You, this jewel of Clotho, this tarantula-womb of life spewing from you
endless threads of clotted possibilities and you have the audacity to burn it dry

          because you are career-focused,
          because you are stopping this lineage, proudly,
          because you are not woman enough, no, don’t want to be woman enough to bear life.

You, this daytime drinker, this shit-faced, sky-faced, head-in-the-clouds thinker
of thoughts such as writing should be work.
How many more times do you write yourself out

of this life sized up with unsolicited eyes
before you write yourself out of it
or write yourself out of yourself?

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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