Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 3



Jeni De La O


Loxahatchee Road Prison

If you decide to visit Loxahatchee it is preferable to drive alone.
The road is long and when tears come they tend to thrive alone.

You will see Gators, leathery logs, sunning on the side of the road.
You will chug pop and scream at the sky then dry your eyes, alone.

The dizzy green of rushing trees will cut the sky like knives. Rain—
blinding, heavy, impossible—will swell the swamp that lies alone.

In a wet-lush hush of mud and mist, a chorus of crickets will sing:
He was a good man—he does not deserve to think he dies alone.

He is a good man, Jeni: tied your shoes, checked your homework—
he made a mistake, we all did; I repeat and repeat and arrive, alone.




Morning Shift

Slipping into a yellow raincoat the things
swirling in ankle level water are
probably a mix of Legionnaires Disease and
flesh eating bacteria or those little worms
that sleep in eyelids.
And the cool damp air is
thick with Black Girl Magic and
Black Lives Matter and the blackest
unapologetic blackness of BLACK
that wakes up curls around my hairline and
brings down abuelita and her iya.
All this, sloshing to work, around
potholes and crumbling infrastructure;
around what would be bus stops if we
had good bus stops; around and around
and around the redlines that shaped this city.
Then clocking in and saying hello
to faces that don’t say hello and
might be rude or might be introverted and
I don’t know their life, B—so keep it moving and
going forward keep things positive, and
circle back to touch base but
never ever touch each other because
therein lies the gravest danger:
human contact, a threat bigger than
soup cans and AR-15’s and angry
angry white boys cornered by toxic masculinity
or video games
or the war against them
or the wars they’re waging
or the panic of an introverted nature facing
eroding privacy in the digital age of share and
like and tweet and forward, forward, forward;
never sharing, keeping it down and
using all that pent up frustration to smash
avocados for avocado toast for
boys who brunch—but at home, because
we’re saving for a house one day,
if we ever make it out one day from
the everlasting inch worm of fedloan taking
a bite out of my cookie every time I sit down for lunch,
which is usually at my desk
and especially today because it is so wet
outside and I spent too much on this mascara
to see flake or slide.
So here’s my hummus; and sure,
I can shoot that email off, it will only take a second.
And the girl in the office next to mine
has a laugh that can shatter bullet proof glass
and the body to match,
and she laughs all day and
I can’t believe anything in this grey building
could be that funny, even with the random
orange walls management put up to
make the place more fun. But
at lunch she goes to work out
in the office gym and I get
35 minutes of screech free silence
to close my eyes and wish
that pot was already legal and
its use was not a fireable offense, and
it’s only 2 pm.
It is only 2 pm.




Ashes of Life rn

It’s over, Edna, and now everything sucks.
Food is meh, I’m glued to the couch –is it time for bed yet?
Who cares? I’ll just keep checking my phone, wide awake!
Ugh, is it time for work yet? at least then I can get coffee.

It is really truly over, Edna, and now I am completely lost;
Awake or asleep or staring at the wall, it’s all the same to me;
I’m like an ad for antidepressants, I have zero interest in life—
Everything is useless, Millay’s malaise. I’m over it. All of it.

It is actually really over, — and I like my friends’ stories,
And life goes on, like the forever crawl of a news ticker, —
Forever, forever-ever, forever-ever, forever is that long
And there’s my black coffee and there’s my warm croissant.


Jeni De La O: "I am a poet and storyteller living in Detroit. My work has appeared in various magazines and journals including Obsidian, York Literary Review, Rockvale Review and others."




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