Kismet, fate, karma:
not pre-determined—
there is no before or after to one
who stands or wavers or buzzes
throughout and beyond time—
but self-determining,

the net or web or ocean of infinity,
where our senses and abilities
and the extent of our detection
succumb to their limits
and it all rests

on the tip of your nipple, on the pull
of tides within you, on the tide
you are within this, on the systems
in which notion collapses,
experience collapses,

holes disappear

and the air at your lips is the universe
giving you the opportunity
to kiss it,

giving itself lips
and you to do the kissing,

giving itself
to be kissed,

or not.

Richard Louis Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. His work has appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies, and he has performed alongside such luminaries as Saul Williams. In 2013, he was the winner of the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, the second-prize winner of the Whisper River Poetry Contest, and a runner-up in the Georgetown Review Magazine Contest. He lives in New York City with his wife and three cats, where they dream of farm life in an undiscovered village.

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