Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 1



Terry Clark


Black Joanie (circa 1992)

—Black Joanie
intimidates all
She calls the shots and runs the shit
Slowly she slinks into the classroom
walking rows of upturned heads,
giving invisible blessings to her home girls
She wears her overalls and White-T’s
starched and pleated uniform of a general
One strap pinned up one down signify allegiance
collection of morning beatings from mother
pacifier soothe wounds wrapping uneaten candy
crack she would sell
folded faded obituary
felled street arrows lip stick rouge
cover smirks never kiss


—Joanie looks at teacher
she decides to let teacher do his thing!
an idea she had when she woke up this morning
teacher could stumble verbs
wipe brow sip coffee
all day long if he wanted
She would read the newspaper anyway
Teacher prays someone
will tap her child-soul
and save her
Teacher remembers Joanie—still tiny
barely out of womb
juiced-up mother begging food
lost wilderness exodus
This day for Joanie will end
like every other day
counting money
blasting boom box
screaming mother
gunshot window
boys in the back
doing nuttin' but making noise...

—Joanie pulls up her covers
turns to the wall
and cries herself to sleep




faith eyes closed

hold hands
form faith circle
silent mouthing
Father, Son and Holy Ghost
boy’s eyes hang curious look
through starched black slacks
then scold mine
elders grab lightening sky
pass it along hot hands
like breakfast skillet iron cooking Friday fish
white shirts white pants
sweating secrets
a wink a nod
hide it bottle it




Sanctuary

what sanctuary knows is
an awful, smiling trump card
playing polyrhythmic pulse
releasing mightily
onto the world
even if you cannot hear
pull anything out of it

trumpet music plays
leaving footprints to follow
looking, wanting, needing a
Sanctuary
for weary simple souls

snatched back
it pecks out blue arpeggios
high notes
sprinkle and fall
lightly on the floor




Sense of Belonging

and memories will make you see
in ho boots and jeans
pockets that circle your ass
sticking out in the wind while
you wind down Fifth Ave
on a diagonal shift.
there is no rumble in your voice
it is very clear why you scream
stolen childhood
bronze skin and cat eyes dark
speak of father
who got tired of beating mother
started in on you cause
you were the oldest
so you took his hambone
in the middle of the night
until you could not take it anymore
and killed the life he shot into you
you all were evicted from abandoned buildings
with no light light or gas.
but it was a place to stay
and lick wounds on a broken-down couch
still—you strut down Fifth Ave
in the hour between darkness and daylight
smoking dreams
then—
His hand will reach down
swoop you up
take you home
where you belong


Terry Clark: "I live and work in Chicago. I hold a BGS from Wartburg College and a Masters of Arts in English from Chicago State University. My publications include poetry and short stories with poeticdiversity; New Scriptor Journal; Taj Mahal Review; Art&Prose, Expressions from Englewood and Timbooktu.com."




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