Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Rp Verlaine


Ode to Karen
(Looking at a 3D Salvador Dali rip-off a month after Joe Frazier died.)

In dry colors
an imitation Dali
on the table you can’t see
                                the head.


Joe Frazier said
“kill the body
and the head will die.”

Karen
said even less
when she hit the cop
in the principal’s office.


In the painting, dozen of faces
merge into cars traffic
lights never blink at twice


The cop
had handcuffs in
hand-where else?

As the principal said
“she only listens
to you.”


But Karen seething
with lava-like
rage wasn’t listening
to any one.


A velvet coffin
upside down
the artist and death or is it



the death of an artist?
of Dali?
Dilly Dali.


Frazier spent two weeks
in the hospital, Ali
said after their fight
“I won.”
Forty years ago
but things change.


Telling Karen’s mother
at the police station
her daughter could go to college if…

but Karen 6th or 7th
of 8 children
raised on
welfare
had less hope
than a mortician bleeding a lifeless corpse.


The painting has
an eyeball of a man
perhaps a  poet starved
for inspiration
the eye  seeing nothing.


I toss some of Karen’s
favorite books in an envelope
to send to her…
but the counselor says
“don’t get involved
the mother’s crazy.”

Unblinking 69 years old
Joe Frazier says in a
documentary:






“Ali, the way he is now-that
was me. I did that”
March 8 1971.



Karen a
street fighter
almost 14, a caged animal
in the office/ in a squad
car / is her future
prison?


She could go to college if…


Joe Frazier dead at 70
Ali now a bunch of
nervous wires
that do not connect
attends his funeral.
“I won” said Frazier.

Karen sent to
a special ed
school she
is too
smart for.

Her writing journal left
behind. The last words
in it were “kill, kill, kill.”




In School A Sentence Is Many Things

The teacher never stops talking
and seems to think the
students are
listening not writing
notes to each other
texting/ or copying
homework.
And he's supposed to be
smart thinks Carlos.

Second period
barely past nine
the behavior problems
or those the dean labels
“career criminals in training”
are out cold, fast asleep.

Having been cursed
out enough this his
first year
the teacher
lets them sleep
grateful they don't disturb the class.
Of first year teachers
not much is expected.

Meanwhile Carlos
looks at the clock waiting
to turn a two min trip
to the bathroom to
a sojourn worthy
of Magellan
by visiting the schools
three floors and busting moves
in the hall that a pretty girl
might see. and maybe they
can hook up later...he's got some
good weed. At 13years old
he's got it going on. Even
if his English teacher says
he can't write
a complete sentence.



Meanwhile the teacher
collects the homework
only 6 out of 28
and half of them
copied from a girl too
timid to refuse.

He had always wanted
to be a teacher until
he started doing it.
Carlos could say
the same about
helping his brother
sell drugs.

Carlos raises his
hand and asks
for the bathroom.
The teacher sighs
but says yes.

Avoid the wars
an experienced colleague
told him. Get your paycheck
and after 30 years collect a pension.
30 years. More and more it
seems like a prison sentence.
Though lately more and more
he wonders
how prison could be
worse.



Rp Verlaine: "I live and write in New York City. I have an MFA in creative writing from City College. I taught in New York Public schools for many years. Retired from teaching, I continue to write and do photography in New York. I had a volume of poetry- Damaged by Dames & Drinking published in 2017 and another – Femme Fatales Movie Starlets & Rockers in 2018. A set of three books began with the publication of Lies From The Autobiography vol1 in November of 2018. Vol 2 was published in 2019 and a third Volume in 2020.

“My poetry has appeared in Atlas Poetica, The Linnet's Wings, Haikuniverse, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, The Local Train, Proletaria, Rudderless Mariner, Humankind Journal, The Wild Word, Under The Basho, Plum Tree Tavern, Fresh Out Magazine, Scissortail Quarterly, Prune Juice, Incense Dreams, Best Poetry, Blazevox, Pikers Press, Poems' bout Love & Hate anthology, Stardust Haiku, Heart of Flesh."




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