Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 2



Ruben Miranda-Juarez Jr.


Names: Recollections from a Borrowed Social Security Card.

Mispronounce my name
or add an -e- before the -u-
that’s not a vowel
my mother anticipated

even with all her foresight.


Behold a son
—held beside her breast
singing songs from memory
collected from a trough of water
in a country once hers
and now no longer.


I know how long
I’ve known my friends
by the name
they call me.

She says fumbling
An imaginary piece of paper
in her hands,
Tracing the edges
with her nails.

Her phantom citizenship.

If it’s Alicia, or Licha
That means they’ve known
me from when
I first arrived.


Licha,

my father said that name
once,
                                                                      it sounded
                                                                                            like
                                                                                                      a fading chorus.

Is longing always this heartbreakingly beautiful?


Mind and flesh
suspended in time
like toasted leaves
waiting to give themselves
to the next wind.


I yearn for names tethered to time
however frayed they might be.
What does a choir of former lovers
sound like at night?
Weren’t their short and shallow breaths
hymns in my name?


I’ve never heard
my father call my mother
by her given name.
His lips never found it necessary
to touch,
to clasp
one another
for her sake.

He sings no hymns.

                                                            She arrived.
Then went.


How long has it been since
he’s whispered
her name to her?


Patricia.

Far too long,


she wonders if
he even remembers her name.




Nourie Sends Me a Picture of Her Father

                           I scribble these words
                                                                      not knowing who you were
         but                what you ended up becoming.
                                            cruel
      crumpled          broken             on          the    asphalt.



sometime long ago you were a sweet boy

being bounced on a knee



“a precious son full of light—my light—”

Your Father used to say.


surely he thought nothing less

                                                      nor did I.

gone missing
              I imagine you
                            thumbing
                            cactus fruit,
eyeing tamarind candy for us,
and filling a bag with treats

but I will be not be   fooled

              for I’ve seen

              flowers           unfurl
only to watch  you
                                          pluck a petal.
as if things are prettier when
they are
                                          no longer whole.


Ruben Miranda-Juarez Jr.: "I am a Chicago born but Cicero raised mexirican writer currently residing in Washington State. I graduated from DePaul University and am a 2017 Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) alum."




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