Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Q.M.


Freshman Orientation

You were welcome as the kid who played
                                                                 Checkers best.
Now, you’re welcomed only on Monday or Thursday,
                                                                 2 to 3 pm.
You’re welcomed unless your case is
                                                                 an emergency.
You’re welcomed, always,
                                                                 to cry alone.
You’re welcomed for shutting your ears and dimming
                                                                 your sight.
You’re welcomed to lose
                                                                 yourself.
You’re welcomed until the policy
                                                                 changed.
You’re welcomed once another Black
                                                                 life was taken.
You may not feel genuinely welcomed by the wall sticker
                                                                 of ‘Welcome’ in 46 languages.
But you’ll be welcomed after purchasing
                                                                 the annual membership.




No, We Are Different Milks

This is clear: we don’t know
what it feels like in each other’s carton,
our immanence whitely opaque.

We may have shared the same shelf
in the fridge, but our tastes
for lids are incompatible.

You accused me of hanging out
with the wrong cereal,
while you’ve gone too far in a cup

of steeping tea. There is no point
pretending otherwise as our lives
are consumed pint by pint.

Even a cat cannot lick
our mismatch—No, honey
doesn’t make me sweet.




Mother’s Day during Lockdown

My dormmate Chen asks me to join
the online battle match for the night. He says
we can order pizza -Which sauce? -Sweet Chili
is good. We swear at our random opponents
without scruples, for we both know it is not real.

Many things are also unreal: like recovering
an umbrella in my dream
(I opened it halfway to look for the familiar
broken rib just before it transformed
into a pixel bouquet). Like Thursday
mornings’ fire alarm tests.
Like Mom, I promise to go to bed after one game.

I’ve never thought of my mother closely enough,
never walked to the end of a rainbow
to check the color of its shadow.
She was naturally always there,
like how orange trees grow out of soil.

She was so sweet for putting down
a peeled tangerine by my old computer screen,
so chili when she nagged me
to stop staying up late.

Umbrellas mask our sky-seeking eyes.
What is real is that she’s not here.



Q.M.: "I am from China and currently live in Atlanta, Georgia. My poems have appeared in Constellations, Lucky Jefferson, Penultimate Peanut, Scribendi, and Blue Tiger Review, among others."




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