Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Jason Masino


Absent Wasteland

a man on the street corner asks me:

do you know where you’re going to? — like the theme from Mahagony

I tell him no / but that I come from royalty
food stamps and a single-parent household
for .33% of my life

I tell him that I dragged my scent up and down The 5
in between The 4- and 605;
a battered dog, a battered doll,
I sang hymns into a styrofoam microphone
directly to God

I tell him that I’m not my mother’s keeper
& that she hails from Louisiana,
grew up on a farm
& worked at one of the original Popeye’s;
they made the chicken extra spicy
& had to post notices on the window
after the faintings

I have some southern sensibilities
but claim the West as home

I reach for a half-finished
cigarette on the ground,
extend my robotic arms
& ask for a light

Daddy grew up on a farm, too I say
             … but I’m not his keeper, either


he raised me on the absence of waste
& neglect

I take a drag from
the thrift store cigarette

& assure him that even though
it didn’t start off as mine,
it all belongs to me now




Amusing [mus{e}—ing, a] adj.

Like, when I laugh myself (temporarily) out of my depression comatose — Or, when I sit alone at the bar / thoughts wavering behind my increasingly blurring eyes — (Like), something like sarcasm after the lady says I’m Dutch after my I’m part-Indonesian / before I say Your people colonized some of my people and the room got quiet — Or, as I’m gazing at nothing and you ask Who’s there? And I say Knock-Knock — Like, up against my walls as my glare tells you Nobody’s home — Or, when a musician stares at you while softly playing the drums and claims you as his {muse} — Like the only Black people in Disney’s Hercules — Or, when I confront you, and ask why you were staring; you guffaw ‘Cause, you’re my muse — Like, what I’m not after a corny joke — Or, the electronic bass from Seinfeld — Like, the curvature of an apple-shaped face behind raccoon eyes, a fire-beard, and the smell of burning wood and soot through a modest Chim chiminey Chim chim cher-oo!, and the luck that shook off when we shook hands, too.




Calgon

Take me to the backyard -
a hearty piss after diving in
12-feet deep / 12-song playlist
on the Memorex &
4 batteries and a floatie /
chlorine as the antidote to eczema

Take me to the deck-
newly built, freshly painted
2 boxes of Pizza Hut /
Lil’ Kim & Ja Rule on the boombox,
Russian roulette
w/ a wet extension cord

Take me to the living room-
before the carpet was pulled up &
Coyote Ugly on VHS w/ a side of
Jasmine rice and fried shrimp /
ketchup / picante / & tartar sauce

Take me to the bedroom-
home alone w/ a bottle of Bacardi &
the boy from French class that I frenched
& claimed not to like /
played with the language of our tongues /
hickeys and cold silver spoons

Take me to the blueprint-
of this house I don’t remember /
or the pools that touched my naked body &
siblings that are no longer mine but I miss /
& parents occupying their former shells

Take me up / and away
to the roof on proverbial fire /
& the back of a pickup truck /
cheap metal fences &
loose change stolen from the ashtray
in the middle of the night /
and barking dogs that know
not what they do or who they see



Jason Masino: "I am an artist, writer, and creative problem solver. A Los Angeles native, I received my BA in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Davis, in 2010 and have performed original works throughout Northern California.

"My work has been published in Regis University's Loophole journal, Cultural Weekly, Inverted Syntax, and Call + Response (upcoming). I am currently pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.

"As a multicultural being, much of my writing explores themes of identity and definition of the self. I consider myself a hybrid writer, blending poetry with elements of memoir and essay, as well as nontraditional styles and forms like dictionary entries and food recipes."




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