Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



Jiwon Choi


Subterfuge & DNA

The whitest girl I ever knew
came from Concord, New Hampshire
she played violin, kept her hair boy short
and wore ear plugs to bed
—the one time my boyfriend came to visit
she really needed them

I went home with her one weekend
and met her family
over baked chicken and green beans I fielded questions
about my parents—what kind of work were they in?

I didn’t answer that their profession was dysfunction
I told my stories instead:

(as my parents’ only child I am good at subterfuge)

they’re in “sales” (not hyper-depressed immigrants moaning
in a dark room)

we vacation in Niagara Falls (one time when I was seven
and I threw up a whole bag of Cheese Doodles when we got there)

and our dishes aren’t all busted up (the Laura Ashley bowls were the first
to go—smashed against the wall)

Before bed, when I’m brushing my teeth and I find the diaphragm
on the bathroom sink, the ear plugs make sense.




Verdoyant

FDR with his mind firmly on the war effort
worrying about a rubber shortage—
fighting the Japs and Krauts takes a lot
of natural resources but King Leopold has no worries
with his three squares and comely cheese plate
avec all the Armagnac he can drink

after dinner concubines unwrap him from
layers of brocade and leather
rub him down like a new year’s pig
with a tonic of witch hazel, black pepper,
and rosewood oil.

Neither man thinks:

Of your life in the green heart of the forest
gutting and flaying
floundering and pounding
trees and man
man and trees
so that a word from the fourteenth century
France
may roll off your tongue
along with your hands and feet

to become flotsam in the mouth
of the Congo.




Your Own Kind

The guy at the next table is adamant that the Indian women in
his law firm are not attracted
to Indian men, says they only date lawyers who swoop in
from New England. I am sorry for him,
he looks like a nice guy, a guy who would sit through Jane Eyre
even the remake with George C. Scott in
a top hat.

Why doesn’t he have a matchmaker to guide his nuptial bliss?
Someone to advise on natty dressing
and counsel that less is more when it comes to cologne,
but not flowers. Egregious
how much I care—would I make his short list: dark and poetic
too opinionated?
Fat chance.


Jiwon Choi: "My work has appeared in various online and print publications, including Painted Bride Quarterly, Bombay Gin, and Hanging Loose. My first collection of poetry, One Daughter Is Worth Ten Sons, was recently published by Hanging Loose Press.

"I am also a preschool teacher at the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and a gardener at the Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear's Community Garden, where I coordinate membership and community outreach."




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