Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 1



Ivan Marquez


An Objective Taxonomy

… and after saying that he currently occupied the guestroom of his parent’s house—
a fact he insisted he was ashamed of while his father bought him another beer—
But before saying that he no longer wore suits to his COM-102 class
because it was annoying to constantly be mistaken as a Professor
The Man Who Lived At Home said that I looked too “SouthSide” to be an
English teacher

Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise—though I hate to admit, it always does
When They say
I have always spoken well for one of them because
I’m one of the good ones.
But it comes as a surprise because I don’t
look like one.

And I should get along with other people’s friends because
We’re both
You know…?
And that has to count for something

And I suppose that it does

And of course, they only call it how it is and
Wouldn’t have said that word
If I hadn’t
acted like one


Because there are two types of people

Or worse
When they lean in and say
you may not know this, but they strung one of you
Up on the outskirts of town
Back in the 70’s
Terrible. Terrible—I don’t agree with
What they did,
but it’s how it was done then
but that was a long time
ago.

I wouldn’t worry about that
Now




Hammond, Indiana

After breaking his back in an awful fall
At work
             that paralyzed him from the
                                        Waist
Down
and discovering that his wife had an
affair due to his impotence
The man who pulled me from the deep end
of a swimming pool
put a gun to his temple
and shot himself while his
children watched television in the

next                                   room.

I was six and barely remember it
Only that a hand pulled me from some great
Depth
Laughing and asking
If I was okay
As I struggled to breathe.

The thought has passed me in various times
in life and I can’t make
sense of it
and he’s here again

as my wife watches a movie where the lead actor says
“Please don’t be afraid. I’m right here.
Ready to catch you if you fall.”




The Child is the Father of the Man

One learns that pain isn’t so bad
By experiencing it

To have your shoulders pinched to the grass
By knees
While knuckles tear and blemish
Flesh and bone
To maim and disfigure
Like plucking wings from a horse fly
Til the eyes become two slits
Beneath the shadow of a boy
That smells like lunch meat
All the while thinking about
Casting a fishing line into Lake Michigan
Beneath the shadow of an oil refinery
Bologna sandwiches and coca-colas
In a rusted cooler
While my father preached patience
And humility

One must learn to fall freely from great heights
The top of the Sears Tower
or the window of your second story balcony
is fine
So long as you fall straight and
true

This was growing older




Say Something

The Heartland will not tolerate
The hatred that winks
And nods
And says its
“only kidding”
Nor care for birds who sing songs
Of a cage they have
Come to love

I heard they hang satirists by their knuckles
Just outside of Godly, or Cairo—
Or was it Peoria? —
among the gold cornstalks shimmering in the eastern wind
capped by whale belly skies
Left to sway as their weight
Pulls downward, separating small joints
For the light they brought was false

I can recall the Ironists
Lined up among the Post-Structuralists
Shoulder to shoulder with
Postmodernists
Shackled to posts in a small clearing…
…And we were told to make sure that the wood we brought was dry
Because there would be too much smoke otherwise.
The boy I was with said it was the first lighting
He had ever seen and he was lucky because it was
The first of the season.
I suggested we bring the dead leaves, which crunched
and stuck to the small lines of my
palm

When they lit the fire, there was no cry or howl
just confirmation
That the cogs turned only with fire
And that we loved to watch it burn.
The smell of burnt tweed mixed with pipe tobacco
And our shadows loomed large on the stalks
Behind us
And we all felt something true that day
That everything was ugly and hurt
But knew we must be
silent



Ivan Marquez: "I am an English teacher and emerging writer from Illinois. My work has appeared in the pages of Rumble Fish Quarterly and High Shelf Press."




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