Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 4



Jiwon Choi


False Alarm

I told you over the phone that I could write a poem about
fried chicken and biscuits but I may have
misspoken. Although I do like both foodstuffs
this topic is beyond my ken at the moment.
And a poem will not take the place of actual
composition. Once I thought I could write a poem about
a pomegranate but it turned out to be a false alarm. And
who wants to read about how I found a pomegranate
in the back alley of my old building
with seed and membrane strewn all about anyway?
I don’t think I want to write one either, and that goes for
the fried chicken and biscuits too.
Take a lesson from history and go for a drink instead.




He Was Handsome

Thirty years ago
you thought he was handsome
when you met him
for dinner
arranged by the sister who didn’t die
in childbirth
and though you are a head taller
and know he can never catch up
you decided to marry him
the hate didn’t come right away
it waited until I came
and followed you from one continent to another
across Siberia and an ocean
landed with you in New York City
where it set up house
in your heart
but it was your “yes” that tied you to a man
who ended up washing dishes at the Copacabana
and weighing ham hocks
at a meat counter
on 137th Street

and when his hands were not
handling pork parts
they were landing on you
and when they were not landing
on you, they were making holes
in our doors.




Terrible Porcelain

There is nothing to say
and not much to know
on this day of goodbye
and “Hello, mon dieu”
to lipsticked cigarettes
filters torn.

There will be no bathroom sex
no baking of peanut butter brownies
to keep you here
and the backyard cardinals trill
your farewell.

Unplug the phone
uncork the Calvados
and contemplate the silence
coming from the hallway closet
where red heels, size six
lean forlorn.

What is left now
except for the terrible porcelain
and its mocking reflection?
Get ready
the baking soda and elbow grease
to dishrag your way to
redemption.

Or concentrate
on the French press instead
fidget with the mesh
and plunging mechanism
haphazard with coffee grounds
but no consolation.


Jiwon Choi: "I am a poet, teacher and urban gardener. I teach preschool at the Educational Alliance, a multi-generation non-profit located on the Lower East Side of NYC. I am also a long-time urban gardener and membership coordinator for the Pacific Street Brooklyn Bear’s Community Garden located near Downtown Brooklyn.

"One Daughter is Worth Ten Sons, published by Hanging Loose Press in 2017, is my first book of poetry. I live in Brooklyn, NY."




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