Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 2


Poems by Ling Ye


Descent

Light strikes the eye’s pupils—contraction
Striking pain in the pinprick fore of the head
Like lightning colliding with a tree
Turning it charred
Black

Onomatopoeia
Of colors—surging red rushing thunderous dome
            Boom booming of heart drum in ear caverns
            Angry welts of purple green vision
            Red hot rage fizzing soda pop
Vibrating buzz of internal machine like
            angry hornets’ nest dropped on concrete

The sour taste of yellow on the flesh
As lovers peel off each other
Slicked sweat and sultry
The piercing A-sharp scream of cat
            Shaking earthquake vibrations
            Through bones and up spine, unsteady
            Juddering arm joints, quaking finger sticks
Thunderous crash of bullet leaving barrel
Spouse / partner / husband / wife
No silencer—ringing alarms in ear domes
Crimson ricochets off the walls and the
White white sheets splattered
            Entrails like roadkill sick
Swimming vision fading orange green blue navy
Blackness

Gentle kiss of glowing gold on lids of optical receptors
Tight hug from belted arms white wrapped about
            Cold body
            Of ghost, whiteness like clouds, ephemeral mist
            Lightness of body floating floating
Into ozone
Blissed nap in padded box, dessert pills of happy woozy
Love love love
Comfort and hazy drawing closed curtains of gray dark
            Coming through the other side of shadow
            This descent into madness




Stella '17 or A Straight Line is Not That Simple

These high piles of snow lining the sides of the streets
has me walking on the straight and narrow,
starting and ending at the crosswalks,
waiting for the lights, and looking out for cars,
like you’re supposed to;
no more short cuts between parked cars,
no more jaywalking in the middle of the street,
no more detours through driveways and bike lanes...
I'm left with no other choice but to navigate
thin patches of concrete wide enough only for one person,
single-person meandering walkways,
negotiating with other unfortunate pedestrians
for that precious piece of clean sidewalk
through the white snow, packed snow, dirty snow,
navigating treacherously over brown slush
halfway through the crosswalk, only to be stopped
by a dark gray puddle of melted once-snow,
looking like the cold mush of nightmares,
that you need to leap over, run around, climb past
over the packed slick hills, or risk walking through it
(how deep is it, really?)
I always supposed the straight and narrow
to be the road of least resistance, but now that I realize
it is only full of hidden dangers and unexpected troubles,
I think I prefer my way of clever shortcuts and
shrewd calculations, risking known dangers and
making leaps of faith,
for you are not entirely blind when making your own way;
you are guided by life's experiences.




An Art to Holding On

I took a picture of the city
            and the city disappeared
Memories fading into the rudimentary
            colors of a four by six;
Framed and caged in a one-dimension
imitation of a genuine city
            halfway around the world.

That last bite of coq au vin
            Sticking to the tip of the tongue
            Like a faded memory of desperate lust
That last glimpse of the Nile
            a vision of awe and wonder and
            reminiscent of bittersweet dreams
That last trek up the five hundred
            and fifty-one steps of St. Peter’s
            Basilica, sweaty regret giving way
            to the profound sadness of loss and leaving.

What I wouldn’t give to hold onto
the truths I had acquired, the beauty
            I had witnessed, the desperate feeling
            of falling in love
with a strange city in a strange land;
That desire, that need, to remain where
one had only intended a visit.

I recorded the music of the city
            and the music faded into the air,
Lyric voices lost to the sounds of silence
            and replaced by the cacophony
            of home, forever lost in
            the distortion of memory.

I try to view my own city
            through the eyes of a visitor,
But all I see is the leaning
            Tower of Pisa, the striking point
            of the Eiffel Tower, the sparkling
            Waters of the Mediterranean,
The pink sands of the Bahamas beaches.

Why is it that we long for the places
            we don’t inhabit, that we lust
            for the cities, the countries
            that don’t contain us;
A desire to be other than here and
            dream of memories of foreign delights
            tugging at our hearts and souls.

There is an art to holding onto beauty,
            whether the beauty is
            perceived or genuine,
and an art to letting it go, and we are
far more desperately practiced in
            the holding on.




The End of the World Again

I have not come here to compare notes
but to sit together in the stillness
            at the end of the world.

Yesterday I asked you if you remember
that time we went to see the dinosaur
            at that museum we both liked
And you said to me,

“You mean the museum you like, and don’t you mean
            the whale? It was the whale.”

I nodded in agreement but I know it was the
            Dinosaur, the biggest creature that ever
            walked the Earth, now extinct, now
            re-made of petrified bones,
plaster and fiberglass, held together
            by bits of steel and ingenuity,

Much like the world we live in, lived in,
            made of the real and the fake,
            the truth and that posing as truth.
A small army of billions built it
            with love and hope and bits of genius
            engineering, steel and grit,
blood, sweat, and tears, all the clichés that

            We fall back on in times of
            upheaval and profound change. And yet
the people keep on keeping on, forging a way
            forward, pulling out of the sticky
mud mess that we had got ourselves into
            in the first place.

And they always make it out, patching up wherever
            possible, with tape and glue,
            perseverance, pluck and mettle, with love.
And with the brilliance and smarts that creates
            order from chaos. A fascinating interplay
            of conflicting functions—

The kinds of mind and heart that is hard to come by
            Nowadays.

We look at the bubble that holds the world,
sit and watch as the bubble is slowly collapsing
            in, consuming itself, we sit
                         detached and waiting.

How are you feeling about all of this, you
            with your big ideas and your glib tongue,
You with your poetry that is a witness to magnitude,
your profundity shaping meaning out of the epic
            that is, was?, the life of the world,

Though the world was an accident,
            its peoples an afterthought, formed
in the crevasses of dark/gray matter that
may have been the drunken mind of an All-being
but could just as well have been a fluke,
            an odd fish in the salt sea of nonsense.

What do you think is the legacy of this life,
            your wisdom in this moment of death
            and potential rebirth?
Like the time we were at that party and
they were all harping on about that book,
            pretentious opinions falling off lips
            like water down a fall, rushing to the
bottom, sinking to the muddy deep, and you said something,
            A riposte, that would have shut it all down

If not for that explosion at the same moment,
            that had them running to the windows
to gape at the destruction of a truck and minivan,
            Spectators of lives in ruination.

You didn’t say you wanted better, only
            that you wanted more.
                         What did you mean?

No, don’t tell me.
I do not want to know.
I want to find out for myself
            if there is a future.
I have not come to compare notes, or to listen
            to you after all this time, I just
want to sit here, in silence,
            in the stillness, and
to watch the end, and to hear a new beginning
rising out of the ashes of the end of the world,
            again.


Ling Ye is a practicing attorney in New York specializing in immigration law. She is an aspiring writer who writes fiction and poetry in her spare time. She is a graduate of Bronx High Sschool of Science, St. John's University, and New York Law School. She is currently living in the Bronx, NY with her husband and her cat. Some of her writing can be viewed on her blog: LingYeJourneys.Blogspot.com.




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