Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 3



Martina McGowan


America, The Repugnant Republic

Golden shovel, based on “America the Beautiful” (1911 version)

Sprawled beneath the broad skies
Trying not to be at variance with the grain
Refusing to be deferential to imagined majesties
Working to keep our requisitions plain
Still trying to crack the rubric of this America
And what we want of thee
In a land with no Brotherhood
And bloodshed across every creek and sea

Entering this land with irons on our feet
As the beginning of a life of defeat and stress
Ever silenced by threat of being beat
Or turned loose into the wilderness
With natives who have also lost their America
Manifest destiny your fatal flaw
Ruled by insatiable beings, no self-control
Liberty denied by enacting convoluted law

Facing the world with nothing to be proved
We spent 400 years simmering in strife
Lording over those who should have been loved
Looking for a better world
And coming to, of all places, America
Suddenly dropped into the firepit to refine
Eventually learning there's only greed, no nobleness
No connection left to any divine

It's not for everyone, this American dream
Despite the so golden years
We've tarnished a reputation that used to gleam
And we are only left with bitter tears
Grieving a forever divided America
America, what do we want of thee?
The true spirit of Brotherhood
Or we should each travel back across the sea




Love Recast in Fire

The absurdities of our youthful lives
Untidy trammels to maturation
Somehow, miraculously survived

Spontaneous combustion sets alight the clothing
On the back of our bedroom door

Somehow my fault – or maybe not
Nonetheless, a hasty prayer sent forth
What do I have to trade
For my grandmother’s life

How many oaths and promises
Can you swear in 30 seconds?
How many memories can you process
With blazing inferno before your eyes

The substance and endurance of love
Recast, reforged, reimagined
Breaks us wide open, like a newborn babe
In the face of fear, flames, and forfeiture




Single Socks in Absentia

How is it that solitary socks
Wander off on laundry day
No other day, no regard to setting
Happens at home or at the laundromat

Where do these socks wander off to?
I’ve searched washing machines, and the dryers
Looked into corners and trolled many a floor

Where do our souls wander off to?
When we separate into two or more parts
Perhaps nowhere, and perhaps everywhere
I guess I choose the latter

Perchance we rejoin our favorite hose
Patiently waiting for us to arrive
To keep our feet warm for eternity
As we travel the rest of the cosmos



Martina McGowan, MD: “I am a physician, poet, writer, artist, advocate, and activist in the wars against social, racial, and sexual injustices.

“I am the author of i am the rage, February 2021, SourceBooks. Award-winner in the Social Change category of the 2021 International Book Awards. Poetry Editor for The Elevation Review Magazine, with work appearing in several literary magazines and anthologies.”




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