Pumpkin Carving


My lover looks expectant, I think

he should throw out the knife stowed


in the wastebasket, broken

over pumpkin carving.


I wonder if pulling orange seeds

is like pulling intestines


from split-skin stomach–

blades stuck in dirt to fall on, shaking


in haunted playgrounds where we went

for makeouts or ghost stories.


I wonder whose fuck I’ll shut

down next, lovers gasping over ghastly


smelling blood poured on leaves.

He looks expectant, reaches,


crooked pumpkin grins

ghostly hands appear.


He asks what I’d like to be doing.

I whisper, Not this as he leaves


and I don’t remind him

of the wastebasket.



I leave my house

in the same way I imagine

I will leave this life —
unwillingly and like I think

it’s the last time.
I distract myself with stacks

of things; my paranoia

in neat rows of threes.

I can’t stop living

in the poor parts of towns

and I know it’s made me a worse person.

I cross this street

imagining myself mugged,

gashes of blood on my throat

and my gasping that I don’t have anything

more to give than blood.

I ride each bus bracing for the crash,

glass fragments encapsulating

my brain like penicillin in a Petri dish,

these obsessions unplanned

but carefully calculated,

spanning the length of me,

devouring me whole.


About the Poet

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 author of “Mixed Tapes,” forthcoming in the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chap Series. They are the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and have work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over thirty-five others. Follow them on Twitter @kara_goughnour or read their collected and exclusive works at karagoughnour.com.