kara goughnour

"FOR MARK BAUMER"

After one-hundred days of walking,
you are killed on impact at thirty-three
by a reckless driver on inauguration day.
In the last photo you post, your feet,
two gnarled, scab-white things,
front a neon arrow painted on asphalt,
pointed ahead,
the word killed scrawled before it.
In the last video you post, you swear
a burning oil drum would be better equipped
for presidency. You say, Come at me.
Julie and I say we don’t believe
in gods or resurrection
or any blindly hopeful thing,
but on the phone, I say, Maybe
Jesus was a half-homeless man
who walked barefoot across America
and maybe we blew it down here.
I watch a video of you
as the first snow of this season falls
and someone asks me
if I think you’re still walking
and I don’t think that
but say yes because I want it.
You are the road,
the black glass of pavement,
shining cyan lamplight —
I will write you poems
that sound like doorbells dinging
if you promise to follow them home.

"IN MEMORIAM: TO THE BIRDS EXTINCT ALREADY THIS YEAR"

In memoriam to the flight lost as well.
When I say that I am in this body
but I am not this body, I mean 
that I am the black, mosquito mask
of the honeycreeper, picking snails
from palm leaf. I mean that I am 
roosting on the condemned rooftop,
I am nesting in string clinging 
with nuclear radiation, 
I am bringing the dead worms home. 
When I say that I am in this body 
but I am still breathing, I mean 
that my wings are ripping 
waves of Spix’s. I mean that I am 
bruised like undertow, 
I am decompartmentalizing 
this mass extinction, 
I am forever playing dead.

Kara Goughnour is a writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the author of MIXED TAPES, a publication of the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chapbook Series. She is the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, a 2020 Best of the Net nominee, and has work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over sixty others. Find her on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram @kara_goughnour.