Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



Elaine Hsiang


i have a favor

before you wake up, i’m gonna take a walk (and i’m gonna walk barefoot) i’m gonna walk barefoot across the city, maybe two cities if the blisters aren’t too big. i’m gonna buy chapstick that smells nothing like you and lotion that smells exactly like you and tell the guy with pennies that you have a date with the sun. everyone has cracked lips at five a.m. but you’re different, it doesn’t take the entire night to see. i’ll take my change and toss my wishlist in someone else’s fountain and i’m gonna run, scared and burning and a little cold in the nails even though it’s august. i’ll bum a little aloe from our neighbor’s garden walk and leave a bit of skin in return, just to tiptoe in and find you up.

(i’ll hand you) when i hand you the chapstick, kiss me good morning. tell me i’m not in love with you as loud as i should, as loud as my ears peel when the little drummer outside the window keeps you up. i won’t listen.




a brief history of addiction

on a rainy day
she builds a spaceship,
lazy rockets out of wrists,
she can’t sleep
when the rumors are so loud,
the teeth chatter
to the frequency of mosquito wings
beating circles around her head,
they page princess boring bait,
the pickup truck dumping
her parents snuggly beside her,
come a rainier day
she holds oreos in her mouth,
doing her math problems,
scribbling in the margins
questions about eggs and chickens,
asking god to take more naps,
and why the big dogs
don’t bully the little dogs
the same way big humans
do to little ones,
her geometry teacher
asks to keep her worksheets
in exchange for almond chocolate bars
for being existential where it counts,
this she remembers when
on the rainiest day
the fuse blows a cold shower,
she stands in the mirror chewing jackfruit,
apologizing for the way she smacks her lips
because eating is ugly,
and she is still yellow
so as far as she’s concerned
the construction workers are going to drill,
and drill, and drill, and drill.




let me tell you a story about language

it begins with passionfruit beer
poured to the fifth you know will sink in

a place you no longer seek refuge
memories of being nineteen, and shaken

you were writing love letters to the azores
found peace in lifting light hands, learned to

paint your nails a deep dark blue
a way to hide what you could not put words to

when the sickness knocks on your head
offers another bouquet of hydrangeas

how could you know better than to accept


Elaine Hsiang: "I am a queer poet & medical student in San Francisco. I am a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of one day i will be louder than all the bruises on your knees (pizza pi press, 2015). My other work has been given a home in Clerestory Journal of the Arts, Bone Bouquet, Deluge, VISIONS, Moonsick Magazine, and elsewhere."




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