The Almost

by Kara Knickerbocker


San Juan, Puerto Rico

July 2018


It was almost my 28th birthday,

& it would’ve been easier for the bullet to burn

me out, almost like candles,

so bright & so fast.

How do you tell someone that loves you

you looked in the mirror

& almost surprised yourself?

How sure you were, willing & unafraid,

that this is what you wanted?

That plane back to Pittsburgh I almost didn’t board,

the gun I almost dreamed up

to paint the bed linen in that cheap hotel

you never even knew the name of,

the trigger the guiding light

through all of the dark only I knew.

How almost deafening the sound

of a heart still beating

& that heavy breath of life

almost too suffocating

to swallow

Kara Knickerbocker is the author of The Shedding Before the Swell (2018) and Next to Everything that is Breakable (2017). She currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she works at Carnegie Mellon University, writes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University, and co-curates the MadFridays Reading Series. Find her online at




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