Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



Puerto Rico is going bankrupt

Lake Vargas


A girl says my hairdresser’s name
belongs to a drug addict. He won’t
speak Spanish to me. The hair dryer
burns a line at my ear like a crowbar.
My curls unfurl like people like them.

Last March he put fingers to my scalp:
asked What happened? Nothing yet
I let you snip at what I’d wanted
to stay. Split ends splay, the part
of legs in an inked ballroom skirt.

Blurred blades are railroad spikes.
Silver-painted space between train
and ground. My claws clamp down,
a chandelier in chrome. Before sleep,
my tears keep you in a cling film.

Your hair is a whole, ghostly sheet
around me, like the plastic plastered
to my bedroom window. My culture
is a suitcase: a leather domino stands
at my leg. I wait for us to topple over.

I hunger for home: limber to attach
to my tongue, tostones as flat suns,
flan sitting in a sugar-glazed lake,
arroz y habichuelas to peel from
the bottom of the pot at breakfast.

I’m here with you, the thrum of me,
my mumble of Mayaguez at people
who can’t see it. Soon, I have to stop
shouldering your comforter. I pluck off
the tunnel of five-hundred thread count.

My city is not in Puerto Rico but it is
schools caving in on themselves.
The trickle of ribs into the stomach.
Heft of the same sweater like a flag,
halfway to your knees, half mast.

When my grandmother hung socks
on the line during winter, New York
was still nueva to her. She didn’t
know they would freeze and crust,
nylon icicles just above ground.


Lake Vargas: "I am a teenager living in the United States. I am of Puerto Rican descent. My work has previously appeared in Sooth Swarm Journal, Tenderness, Yea, and Bottlecap Press. My twitter is @lakewrites and my Tumblr is @stonemattress."




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