Stargazing Where “Stop” Means “Yield” by Kara Dorris

Stargazing Where “Stop” Means “Yield”

The law is the law, some might say,
a fixed constellation, & yet,
who gazes into the black-out of absolute
& what gazes back? Without witness,
is anything alive? Without witness,
is anyone to blame for rolling through
a four-way stop sign?

By which I mean, who listens
to sagebrush or asphalt, thin yellow lines
beneath our tires, tank top straps
or closed eyelashes, the lies our eyes invent
(all that long-dead light we wish on).
Tell me, my friend, when we interpret
stop as yield, who gets harmed?

Is it like calling shotgun, touching noses
in not it, whoever is first wins?
Yield as a reluctant stop
or a reluctant politeness. Is stop only
conditional if unchallenged?
What of the female body drunk
& passed out?

Do stars yield to daylight, wildflowers
to wind force? Does grass yield to our weight?
Our weight to choice?
Don’t tell me context is only an excuse.
I won’t believe you.


Kara Dorris is the author of two poetry collections: Have Ruin, Will Travel (2019) and When the Body is a Guardrail (2020) from Finishing Line Press. She has also published five chapbooks including Carnival Bound [or, please unwrap me] co-written with Gwendolyn Paradice (The Cupboard Pamphlet, 2020). Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, DIAGRAM, Hayden Ferry Review, RHINO, Tinderbox, Tupelo Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (2011). Her prose has appeared in Waxwing and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (2016). For more information, please visit

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