Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Praise Osawaru


one morning in the front yard

it’s dawn & I’m tasked with imprinting thin lines
on a district of our front yard, with a rake.

call it labor. call it a relevant activity to even the surface
& slacken the earth for the welcoming of seeds.

I shoot a gaze at my mother, who’s positioned on the porch,
& a grin breaks, harnesses the entirety of her mouth.

light darts from behind an assemblage of clouds
& mother withdraws into the house with the promise of a meal,

following the completion of my task. I exhale the length
of seconds & scratch the ground with the row of metal teeth.




a softhearted flame

this thumper in my chest sometimes feels stiff as a tightened fist.
a boy succumbed to the ocean waves crashing on him & pommeled

on my door, with two verses of sweetness & a throbbing heart emoji,
& he became a kid with an aching tooth. so he detached it from himself

& endowed my rooftop, morphed into a paper plane, winging from my sight.
a girl once pulled me into an impassioned embrace & I mistook that for

a beckoning handful of cherries desiring a mouth, but I sunk my teeth in
my tongue. I trundled my body into the solace of my darkened room.

there's something extraordinary about the deficiency of light that dissipates
any anxiety for attention. I want for this body a mellifluous stream of glee,

a softhearted flame, crescent marks randomly imprinted on my skin, & woven
into my memory. If I dream of a lover, does that annul my loneliness?

in another poem, I portrayed my body as a fraction aching to transform
into a decimal point. here, I’m pondering why when I shut my eyes

my fingers interlace with the fingers of the boy who I heaved like a javelin.



Praise Osawaru: “I am a writer of Bini descent. A Best of the Net nominee, my work appears in The Hellebore, Ice Floe Press, Kissing Dynamite, Kalahari Review, Roadrunner Review, and elsewhere. I was a finalist for the 2020 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize, and I’m a recipient of the NF2W Poetry Scholarship and a reader for Chestnut Review. Find me on Instagram & Twitter @wordsmithpraise.”




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