Poem 304 ± April 3, 2016

Cyan James
the safety of strangers

can I kiss?
can I kiss it?

what if a virgin?
what if in the ass?

are you—?
are you wearing a—?

if precautions?
In case of Love?

if I preach?
if I practice?

if every time I ask?
if every time I trust?

if lucky dice?
if Russian roulette?

If I’m cynical?
If I’m celibate?

if I stop being a Samaritan?
if I start caring about safety?

if willpower?
if a vaccine?



Cyan JamesCyan James’s work has appeared in The Account, The Harvard Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Arkansas Review and other journals. Her work has been awarded three Hopwood prizes. She earned her PhD in public health genetics from the University of Washington and her MFA from the University of Michigan. She currently works in health policy while also writing short stories, essays, poems, and a novel.