Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 1



Nik Hill


Auto immune

My thoughts became cells became
dis-ease. The mastery of self-destruct.
Which is to say,
I don’t need to denounce myself,
inwardly my body does it for me.

My skin, my first shame
I knew I was too dark before I knew the world was racist
It was a scent
The smell of smiles too bright when banana colored girls entered the room
My name, three letters longer than my mother’s, was my 2nd shame
The tell-tale sign of women who remember
Far-away lands with names for earth
My hair, my third and longest lasting shame
The bald spot appeared clean at the nape of my neck
Smooth and snake like
If hair be a woman’s glory
Then mine be gone
I mourn the loss like only a teenaged girl can
Succumb to shame ‘cause it’s close
Cause its boney shoulder is better than the nothing that’s there
My hair, a whisper, caught in my mouth
And now, I’m just another black girl in a weave
Ghetto, unworthy, needing to prove her disparity
That need, the birth place of
my fourth shame




Copied Original

I keep trying to catch up. These damn award-winning poets just wont let up. I draw a line in the sand. Focus on the spot they pissed on. Try n figure the something they used to get here. Get this far. Become this good. But as long as I focus on their past I'm behind. My shirt is drenched. My soles have holes wide enough to welcome rocks. And I am too tired to tell them to find a different home. So we are just wandering. Supposed to be running in this damn race but I could die here, alone. Since everybody done came and gone. And there ain't even a bit ah sunshine left to bring me illusory visions of the end. I smell defeat under my arms. Gingivitis causing my teeth to bleed and it's just as well cause I'm thirsty as hell. My poor pen sinking into earth and I am its only witness.

The Eulogy:
Pen lies here without the makings to photosynthesize some sugar.
But life ain't sweet.
Best life be hard.
and Pen knew.
Been here since the beginning.


I stand, hands hiding in my pocket. Say "My bad, for tripping on Good Enough. Those damn Nikes are just doing it. They know how to make the small a revelation. I just know how to revel. Remember the water? I just wanted a sip but it had a message. Talkin bout photocopy. A damn two dimensional shape on a sheet of paper tryna pass as three. Aint that something?"




Everyday a Firearm

When the playground didn’t have drugs
or guns making soundtracks
kids’ laughter ricocheted into cries
we played tag
or screamed the name of a chocolate boy we liked
watched his head whip round
and hit foot to concrete like we were track stars
Bent over                       palms gripping knees
inhaling butterflies      plentiful as dust particles
Honey                                           dripping from the corners of my mouth
I forgot homely maggot faced girl in mirror
And good riddance
Ropes are                       churning brown girls into a vortex of accolades
Balls are                         tasting space
and returning stardust to our palms
I stare down the sun
It shoots dark spots      in my vision
But I can just make her out
Popular Girl                   with the self-love meter
won’t be my friend today
Cause,                   “Girl, you think you all ‘at,”
Heat expands behind my eyes
My palms                       no more stars
just crimson dust
My back hits the chest of the tree
we carved our initials in
I sink                 and give my best prayer for
a firearm soundtrack



Nik Hill: "I am a spiritually-obsessed poet living in Rowland Heights, California. I recently won first place for the Murphy-Writing Scholarship. I am a Pen Emerging Voices finalist and a Key West Literary Scholar. My collection, Combative Polarities, can be found on Amazon."




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