Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 4



Shantai Cojocaru


Six Words

i cannot
remember
my mother's smell.

even my shadow
has a caste.

all these holes
must patch
themselves.

my dad still asks about me.




EBB

A thumbnail
warm and smooth
is it my own?
presses a dent into
the flesh
of my lower lip. Cold fingertips stroke
the flat of my shoulder blade.
Heat radiates as if
my bones
were fresh off coals.
It's a binary dance of the senses;
this heat and
this cold.

O Consciousness,
where do I place thee?
In these fingertips that look up at me,
pushing forward, coaxing me
like anxious dogs in need
or
in this blood-rushed flat disk that shifts
with grace in tandem
with....

I look up.
The ceiling above me once leaked. Brown stains flush
and look to spread like mushrooms, but
I know they don't grow.
I push my back into the wood chair
and feel the soft shag
of my coat’s inner lining brush
my neck as my head
leans back.

The narrow pressure of the chair's top rail provides
a point of focus
for my overstimulated mind.

I
feel
soothed

Pressure always releases.
The rounded aluminium aglet of my hoodie’s
drawstring, I twist it like a nipple.
I look down to the round table and see
that my pen has
—count them—
six sides. "Hex," I smile.

Moments pass and
this cappuccino has cooled and
I don't want it anymore.

A smooth muffled gasp of air escapes the closing door, and
I’m reminded that it’s cold outside.
I button up. But,
these buttons won't stay closed. The cloth is soft.
Excessively.
A consequence of fearing the roughness of life,
the way in which she skins us.

Out the window
webbed trees travel
and unravel light
and shadow,
their broken ends remind me
of something I can’t
quite recall and I feel
the edges of my palms ache
from the anger of yesterday.
Can doors ache as well?
I hit one pretty hard. I wonder if
this body of mine
will always
carry the weight
of my mind. Does it matter?
Another question with no answer
              And I                 close                    my eyes

Hair makes noise if you caress it.
Sounds like
rolling in dry grass,
leaves, on a fall day. I listen
to the sound
of sugar shower
from a paper torn
down into
his warm ceramic cup. It’s night.
So,

I sit inside.




Orchid

I was to water her orchid. Never had I cared for something so aggressively tender.
I undressed her from her ceramic and released her, exposed, into a shallow pool of tap water.
“More than four hours” was enough. “More than four hours, less than a day.”
I drained the excess into the metal sink where I wash dishes and pour cold coffee.
I waited for her. That is how it works with them. Used and unused, I stood in a dance without movement.
As I redressed her, nature blew a contemptuous breath that fell a flower, symmetric,

stem   intact. And I watched
her abruptness,
sit me




9

beliefs are flimsy.
rice paper truths
born falling apart.




spit

claps of consonants crash and disperse into waves of howling vowels
as they rise and fall they cascade their serenades manipulate the air around me
and it's from the back of throats
                                                                      they spit
and exit out pursed lips,

                                                              f    l    o    a    ting

then snapping like thunder smacks her lips
                                                      when clouds shit torrents
                                                      of ash and haze.


Shantai Cojocaru: "I'm from the Bronx, I like to travel and learn languages, I now live in Romania, I don't know what's next, and I'm sometimes okay with that."




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