Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Haley Wooning


nox, nuit, night

nox     nuit     night
where nyx is mixed in
cauldrons with garnet
star and milky mist

a moon whose ink nears
that broom-borne writhe
where middle now like a limb
turned lift towards funeral
loosened and wind-raw bone

night liquid a touch of cloth or flesh
a thing like a veil to be worn, as finite

midnight impassioned and
full with the folding of each
lover-ire iron churned - each
crossroads stained by the

houndworn cloak black and asked
by nyx for bleeding, and given,
no more masked by silent others




The Dream’s Hag

I carry in my hands the earth’s uncommon ore,
the sweat of the women over so many fields like
small sleepwalkers tossed on the edging mist.

The earth takes, the earth takes.
The night ends, dawn comes, again with her roses
and her plummeting brow.

I enter the mouth’s frozen oracle, wet with broom straws and a snake
that rags trails of rivers empty into strain and suspicion. Here,
the moon skirts the flagrant edges of the heart, sores open and leak

into waters indifferent with the flare of a hard noon, which is my bodya
body that now dissipates like a star, like the immutable lover, like
there are ghosts eating corpses in my sex.

I feel the beast’s breathing, somewhere, deep in his dusty den. Shadows
moving beside him. It is not a voice I hear, not my voice, but the sound
of theory moving like the chords of a dark well.

The sound of something entering a closed room.

I have grown so weary of my language, its meaty, lesser bits.
I have grown weary of the echo, a scythed blade soothed
with the murmurs of a sea’s nocturnal sigh.

The thin veined, parchment stars
blinking with the thirsty phosphorescence of animals.

I have discovered the woman’s oracle in my body,

the other side of a life I have never been able to touch,
a wood howling with a siren circe poet nymph witch black wind.
I have touched the bleak madness,

I, a crocus, beak my way through the veil’s hard frost.
I dream the old secret, I am sown with the seeds of
black birds,

the last site in a vast forest. A wolf that carries
all things in its eyes, the spiral body, the
petrifying apse, the nocturnal violet,

a sanctuary of ash.

Now darkness, soft liquidation, stalls and the physical returns

a continent, torn between the lethal ocean,
like the crypt of a woman’s body - my body, its chamber,
and a dark hope
                of meeting myself
again.




Elektra in the Act of Grieving

summer stars spill and split over the heathered hill
where a melancholy fog sits
thick with the mist of sleepless creatures

night soft, a long red swan wind

fluttering, long curls of hair
a gown beneath the seam
of lilac waters

I move
like a word’s trickster vein
like a word, a root-worker

moon-mad with conjuring
                           the language of the soul
the woman
an organ, a feral, a scythe

I am changed, I pluck words from
the gloom of another death

I once again love the things I cannot know

like a neck I lean into her soft secrets, I speak

the chasm
the cave
this monstrous fissure
in time

I am or
am not
a song that flows and stops itself

or altogether, something soft unfolding
like a tablecloth into ruin

with the yellow fields, the holding of so many
wings pulling away from
             the earth’s small egg

the quick black gut flux of visibility

I, unescorted, dance
absurdly close,
and final
in the mind’s red bloom

to ask that this place no longer be empty,
sour with the world’s laborious opera

or how I come to find the eternal
the exquisite cold of becoming
something
disregarded

     this is the danger:

coming too close to the thing
that cannot be named




Prazosin Nightmares

tonight I find myself in relapses of nothing
I have been given a pill, I have been asked for my hand,
an isolated marriage

unwell, in the absence of sleep,
and all my voices
unrecoverable

I feel them in the calm
nocturnal light
that spreads like butter
along the walls

the shapes of things
the darkness which forms the glass,

the groves
disappearing from me, like secret rapports
with statues masked in shadowed corners

the unfathomable depths of myself
that I no longer encounter

banal, swept
with only this picture to feed
the soul on

a person, a wood, shrouded with fog
the pills that melt the hue of me

a body, now like the felt of lamb’s ear,
closed in sweet marjoram

the lulling moon-round warmth

but still, the earth does not open
her lagoon, a womb
for crocodiles

and sleep’s reaching black hands stark and cold and naked

instead, I go outside
to pasture with the stars
that whisper their soft Dianas, pulled by
the dark chariot
of nowhere
wrought in iron, unfleshed night soot
I see her

she, who I was, laced in black agate
a terrible carnival of aimless winds and

alien garments and wearied limbs

I shiver with
the bones ands spells she ate
her shroud’s disguise,

ever fathomless, never sufficiently wept
ever remaining
the fogged labyrinthine curse
to wade through

meanwhile, the indigo sea
drowses with tranquil neptune

another night without sleep

when dawn comes and begets my roots,
I mumble order over another hill
another world, lost beyond me

I drop
their pills down
              their artificial land’s
black
     pooling
           gutters

I build from their bones another land
to turn to, my own     dear

amused abstraction

where moonlight licks
her savage kids
into sleep’s goldwarm
oblivion.




To the Wrong Muse, my Ex Girlfriend

chimera,
                       damp night,
                                                   open sores in water

I am sleeping, writhing with the mineral
of hands
              hands
like sad embers                        that crumble

when I have been wed
to something
unlike myself
                                                                                    too altered, too horror-red
                                                                                    too much like a flame,
                                                                                         or the sea,
                                                                                           still, unleaning

           a tinged, blue otherworld

                                             stuffed somewhere
                                             beneath the disaster
                                                                                         the vanity
                                                      of violets

I am begging my membrane to be good
I am asking to touch my

                                                                                              voice, shameless
                                                                                           unsheathed from the greed
                           of the articulate, named              great male god

how odd, my
prayer, a guest

                                  conspiring now
                                                                 with shadows
                  and crossroad’s cloth
                                                                                                      and curling, fletched arrows
                                                       and whirling froth

I ask you, stranger,
stranger I speak to,
stranger beyond me

                                                                             in night’s great dark eye,
                                                                             have you touched it? fucked
                                                                             between the folds

where no one knows you
                                               and what you know
                  is illusion, is

                                                                                                                                                impossible bloom,
                                                                      impossible marrow
impossible red-thick madness

I ask how
to love the snake that ruffles in you
like a seatide’s paling gown

                                                                      a drowning mass
                                                                      of crimson hooves
                                                                      that litter the absent
                                          garment
                                                                                                                garment of no answer

and still, there is loss to be had and to name

                                                                                  and I? I
                                                                                  lose less and less of myself
                                                                                  but the world around me

              what do you always say? weary or worried
                or tyrant


because I am failing something
                                                           expending the sacred within me

wasting
away

                              I nod and tire over the
                              river mouth feeding
                              breasts with all this rain

                                                                                            all this rain and dying
                                                                     of thirst
                                                                                            as it trespasses

the single throat
of secluded trees

                                    dark as the echo, the echo as dark
                                                                                                     as death

either way
the soul’s insufferable
moon-song
blood drowns


                                          with leaves
                                          and spit
                                          of gone fire

                                                                                    I do not ask to be accessible,
                              I want instead the dream

where you are not                                                                                                              speaking
                                                                         over me -


what am I seeking?                      the language that
                               I alone know,

the rumination of so many
        bones and

the infinite howl, groaning, growing out of a sorry, half-rendered love



Haley Wooning: "I live in California."




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