Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 4



Shirley Jones-Luke


Known Orbit

Infinite darkness
absorbs all light

A lonely heart
cannot fathom the cosmos

The moon misdirects
questioning its orbit

Stardust is a waste
trashes the galaxy

Dreams exist in a broken universe
living in the sewer of a comet's tail

There is a drain on starlight
asteroids block its energy

The planets are casualties
of a callous sun

The center of the universe
shakes with laughter

The Big Bang is not a theory
we still see its cracks in the sky




When the Stars Can’t Guide You

The sky is a blackboard
upon which the chalk
sparkles dotting
the ebony surface
of space

When the lights suffer
a blackout,
the earth has a parallel shadow,
night against night,
a push and pull

What can you do when
the stars can't guide you?
We can't see blinded by
the brilliance gone

Searching for dawn's memory
as the moon is cloaked
in an onyx cape

The stars are not our allies
they shun our eyes
Angered by our ignorance
we guide ourselves




Horses of the Gods

Clouds tumble and twist in a grayish-white sky
before there was an Iceland, there was only
the land of ice, where Vikings roamed the
tundra and sailed the seas, battling the
elements and each other for honor
and glory and a place in Valhalla,
the hall of heroes, Odin's chosen
ones, who pledged their allegiance
to the king of the gods by fighting
with pure hearts in the wintry landscape,
when the thunder roared, the warriors
saw steeds beat down the air with
their heavy hooves causing the sky
to shake and sending sparks down
to the ground, no one could ignore
the might of these steeds who
served Odin and his kin as they
flew through the tumult and alighted
like butterflies in the snow fields to
stake their claim as deities of
the North




Godzilla Made Me Do It

My drive shakes the ground,
then there were tears     real tears
I'm not much for drama
never have been, why should I be?
cheap as fuck           slick as a fox
that way I can save money
stay in my home,
pay these damn bills,
leave work, run from work, actually
sucker for pain - keep coming back for more
cook up a scheme for my
great escape
if I have the guts
to quit, quitting is never easy,
but I have to dump this shit
luck be with me, not a lady tonight
hide & seek,
I'm on the hunt
for a prehistoric teacher
& my ancient relatives
who appear in my dreams
as cloaked strangers - with claws.
Do you hear the roar?
Get out of the way or
you'll be crushed by
my ambition




Analysis of An Uproar

Olympus fell.

Concrete and granite showered the ground.
Gods dropped from the sky in perfect symmetry.
Torsos were arced angles.

Birds circled scavenging bodies
Cyclops cried out in a bloody dawn

My heart was eaten by the carnage
I would scream but the sound was lost
in the tempest

Gods laughed at their own misery
They didn't notice mine

Olympus emptied of its
shimmering glory
Zeus dethroned, no kingdom
for deities, their scars matched
my own, tracing a jagged line
across my chest

Their tears weren't wet, they didn't
know how to cry, the cyclops continued
to wail in the wind, coughing up
concrete dust, ashes of anarchy
choked the air

I could do nothing for the gods.

They could do nothing for me.




Lotus Eaters Worship at the Altar of Ignorant Bliss

Odysseus could not have predicted this,
that the foragers of the opium-like flower
would appear again in the modern era
to spread across this country in pick-up
trucks, backwoods homes and former
southern plantations, hiding
vile pasts surrounded by placid
fields whose soil contains the
carbon footprints of unwilling
servants as their descendants stare
in disbelief at the man who would be
king stand at the podium, grinning
at the disillusioned, spreading his
arms out in a welcoming embrace
as his minions operate in the shadows
making plans to spread the seeds of
ignorance across the globe


Shirley Jones-Luke: "I am a poet and a writer of color. I live and work in Boston, Mass. I am an educator with the Boston Public Schools. My specialty is English Composition and Literature. I have an MFA from Emerson College. I was a 2016 Watering Hole Poetry Fellow."




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