Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 3



Breia Gore


Apartment Complex

I begin the day with my head on a stake.
Drink water for three hours and pretend to walk
around the block. Cut off all my hair and move
to Savannah with red wine and borrowed money.
Make it big. Forget to shower. Move back to
to the apartment complex, where people fold laundry
and let the day spill past them like a naked gaze.
Stuff my insides with oats and honey. Pretend to
fold laundry like everyone else. Cry after calling
my parents. Cry hard enough on the hardwood floor
that my knees clink together. Push the door in the neighbors
face when he knocks and asks me to keep it down.
Think how suspicious it is that other people have nothing to
think about. Think about the ignorance of that thought.
Clean the floor. Clean the bathroom counters. Clean until
it becomes suspicious. I cannot smell like kitchen sinks
forever. Put on a record. Something light. Something live.
Tell my boyfriend he is all I think about. Hate myself for
lying to my boyfriend and telling him he is all I think about.
Ask myself where my sense of community is.
Where is the light? Why can I not find it?




You Are Barely Leaving

When you move to Florida the hardest thing to get rid of is your dresser.
You dissect the insides wearing plastic gloves and you're crying. Your mother is crying.
Your father is in the hallway thinking how much mortgage is left on the house.
The dresser splints your fingers. Every meaningful thing comes with splints and it’s
like the time Michael had to dig into your thumb with his knife. No finger is safe.
The first time something entered your skin like this, you were dancing near the fireplace and it
picked into your ankle. You ran around the house screaming while your mother chased you with
tweezers.
             Stay, stay, stay! Let me get a hold of your ankle so I can hold you down to help you!
             Do not leave!
             See these things! They will hurt you. I have just the thing to help!
             No splinter should stay in your ankle!

You believe her. No one really comes prepared to handle a splinter. You know that now when
you finish emptying the dresser. You say the drawers are the perfect size for a babies coffin.
Your mother walks out of the room, calls you morbid but fitting because she is losing her baby.
You mistake the final close of the drawers for applause. No one should clap for wood. No one
should clap for something being left behind. You leave the dresser to the alligators and only
come back to see it on holidays. Go back to the beginning. No one is suffering yet.




CC: W.I.

We get along like rubbing two sticks together might suffice
for a night out in the cold, or clashing stone into stone
until the spark opens up a bitter flame strong enough to keep
one of us warm. Your jaw would take the beam of rotting wood
and start the sadness carried in your backpack. He shows me alcohol
under a microscope and somehow this is okay.

This boy is going to move to Wisconsin and die.
He said he was going to be the one to sunburst dust
embedded in everyone's fingertips that sit here and
cry over radio songs, and he is not a contradiction so
he is leaving. I cannot stop my wild associations,
so the sky keeps silent and I see him stuck in traffic.

And if there really is something hanging here,
at the far edge to grease open and step
into the morning with, I will take all my beliefs
and blood with it. I will seep it into the centuries
we have spent together, spilling our fire into rusty tin
buckets, holding him as we tremble.




MISSING: Milk Carton Love

I had a sweetheart in the eighth grade that smiled
at the ceiling, happy to smear her lipstick on my chin.
When she wore crisp purple skirts, it was precious and
if someone asked about my sweetheart, I denied

those delicious thighs—perfect to rest my hands on when sat on her twin,
             white sheets and afterschool clothes,
the creeks of light dripping honeydew flecks on her arms,
             orange floral and sun-drunk bees,
her struts past kids towards the end of dust bowl locker-lined hallways,
             dancing eyes and dress-code referrals,
suddenly did not exist.

She asked me if I had any tips for when Josh fingered her.
I sagged towards her holy body like a rough virus, if someone
wanted her, they had her—if I wanted her, I had to forget about
her crisp purple skirts and absent father. Rid myself of that one time

our legs dangled over the river and her shoe fell in, she
             laughed and laughed and laughed.
I walked home barefoot. She always laughed at things that ended
             with tissues and something to steal.
She said she knew how to parallel park, so we drove her golf cart
             towards the trunk of a tree like
it was the iris of a highway heading to the middle of the blue ocean.

I controlled the steering while her heavy foot was on the gas.
Right before we crashed her mother screamed through the kitchen window.
Whose fault would it of been? Last week, I heard her dad kill himself.
I don’t know where to find her.




Everything I’ve Ever Written In My Journal On A Train Mentions You
              Or
The Train Station Becomes Our Regular Date Spot

2.16.15: Bears
We could have run away to a shelter in a cave. Our neighbors could have been bats and the stars upstairs wouldn’t have been too loud. The landlord might of been angry, but bears could have helped a set of lovers in distress. I don’t know why I have to leave.
I caught the kiss you blew and just held it. Later I planted it on my thigh. I cried so hard I started tasting blood. Your eyes were sad, but they weren’t screaming. They didn’t put up a fight. They gently patted the bed and asked me to stay. I kissed them and switched off the light. “Another night,” they said.

4.8.15: Light
Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow coming in from the east by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges, then suddenly the beloved has arrived and its noon with merciless light and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle of yours stand clear as I pull up into the station.

10.30.15: Roadkill
I am so unbelievable apologetic for the storm I have caused you. I cannot believe how you have not left me on the side of the road yet.

12.29.15: Associations
Raspberries and sweets and heart-shaped shortbread. Pancakes and honey and dish soap. Gas Stoves and rainstorms and black cherry ice cream. The scent of your flannel. Hearing your cats run up the stairs. Two a.m. night runs and you backing the truck out of the driveway. These things are closer to home. Sitting in church pews. Finding rusty mirrors in pawn shops. Jukebox music. Kissing my lipstick off. Peach slushies. Promise tinted into my cheeks. I cannot find home in the numbers on the back of a postcard. I cannot feel secure when my life is inconsistent of these things. I need your mom's meals twice a week. You’re my “let's walk and talk this out”, messy hair in the morning, laugh after crying, breakfast at seven p.m., nose-kissing, lover.

12.28.16: Again
I am always stuck here. White knuckling my own hands.
Trying to hear the quiet static of the entire universe crumbling
that so often accompanies stillness.
This cable car does not begin moving until you are gone.
Until your mouth derails from mine and we are left again
waving through glass.


Breia Gore: "I am an Asian-Pacific American poet living in South Carolina attending the University of South Carolina where I am pursuing a BA in English concentrated in Creative Writing and minor in film studies. My work has been published or is forthcoming in Lithium Magazine, Adolescent Content, Concept Literary, and Dirty Paws Press. I strive for education reforms in the arts through Teach For America and aim to create my own literary magazine to encourage youths to stay community-engaged and politically active. When I'm not stumbling over rough drafts or pointing out small animals on walks, I can be found drinking tea and organizing my pens."




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