Rigorous
Volume Two, Issue 4



Manuel Garcia


Console Feedback

(In your story, you’re always the main character. The rest are for support.)


“Don’t be sad.”

(Your voice echoes through holes and across halls.

Standing slouched against the wall, I listen to your heart pouring into twisted phone lines.

Cordoned off, hearing words not meant for me gives the most clarity about what I am.

Trying to catch a glimpse of your self,

I steal drops for some sick criminal catharsis.

But your body asleep, your subconscious cries out to mine,

crying alone into a dying room.)


“It’s okay.”

(I wish I could hold you.

I wish I could say something I could put on paper, but my comfort is artless, and my tongue is

blunt.

I wish I could untangle

the knots in your

bones, but all I can do is touch my skin to yours.

I wish I could cool the heat of your blood with the ink of my words, but your veins aren’t laptop wires.

I wish my vocal cords could guide you home and embrace you instead of shattering

silence with empty attempts.

Eyes rove, bouncing, glazed under lowered brows converging on sullen eyes on the verge of a bridge to vocals.

The comfort of your permanence allows abridged perception – actually hollowed out hyperbole.

I wish I could console your soul. To be a member of your

life, not this console starving in static feedbacks.

I wish words had power. I wish stock phrases were worth taking stock of.

Fragments of phrases scramble across my mind while I creep, stalking through the halls,

searching for fragments of a

past discarded in alleyways.)


“Don’t worry.”

(Overloaded to the point of powerlessness, stuffed with the wishes and hypotheticals of signifiers stampeding into electric paralysis.

Words don’t restore people; they only express broken wishes.

Wishes of the past and present only remind us what is impossible.

They leave us as mute as deathbeds depending on the imposition of feeling.

I know so many words that nothing is enough. A palette refined to gray.

Mediated through flat screens, your voice – a quiver – filled with arrows that shoot out

only to be lodged in throats, choking, protruding under closed lips.

Under your will, I am telling you what you want to hear,

but the more I think, the more unworthy words become, and wordiness is all I want.)


“Are you okay?”

(I see you trudging as this world keeps its grudge against you.

The sickening thud of each step leads me to glide over what shards I know lie below.

My guilt gilded by a pristine soul.

We’ve artificially fashioned ourselves into new products

for a new extended warranty.

Thumbprints instead of facial recognition.)


“I’m so sorry.”

(We all have qualities of our creators, made in their image, but what is your image of me?

Am I an image of an image, each generation of people further diluted as a grand machination?

The stars in the eyes of dreamers age into black holes in their children’s eyes.

The cracks in your face hide mouldy thoughts of suicide.

This same sickness in me stops us from understanding each other.

The pain of one life is too much for me to consider fitting two. But I know I need too.

Alone because our plates are full as they perpetually crash and fill the floor so we’re walking

on our shells.

Hours and hours spent staring at shelves,

eyes roving across framed faces,

ravenous,

consuming memories to fill black holes.

It’s never enough and our feet trample

on failed attempts at selves while our flailing jaws

mouth the memories placed on cracked shelves.)


“I’m here.”

(I make a big show of writing about you, but I think I just wrote about myself.)




Liminal Lucidity

There is only one you
staining burns onto my memory, memories burning stains onto pages.
If things were just a bit different,
if the sun set over an altered horizon,
if it gleamed, glinting over morphed edges,
maybe the edges of your eyes wouldn’t be dodging my voice.
Maybe your voice wouldn’t quiver with distance
and my breath could make arrows falter in air.
Progression of a reality originating from altered suns.
Visions emerge, from dissolving gold sunsets, of
purple foliage branching across the sky
reaching out to grasp your eye with fading fingers.
Gaging the stagnancy of my reflection in your eyes,
I’m pushed into what I see
in my most lucid dreams – a spot of light refracted infinite in your tears.
Torn words spoken softly to avoid shaking the scene with
vibrations of an intruding attraction under a silence scorned.
Suns don’t glisten off buildings of blinding spotlights
like a daisy culled through filters tearing you away.
But tilt your head on my shoulder,
and the world tilts with you.
Hold up a lasting inversion as blood rushes to pool around bent words.


Atop a building of parked cars – a hub of lifeless eyes,
our eyes stare as cars go by.
Hills to garages, roads to cement, cement cars on gravel grass,
tire tracks scatting to forgotten blues,
scattering to the beat of squealing moons.
Radial cages encase radio-memories echoing a chorus line –
familiarity found with the key pulled out,
dashing through boards of glass.
Stopped, atop, we stop together trapping the moment,
peering down
as lives go by on rotating eyes with tracks leading straight ahead.
Entire lives whizzing by, worlds with a place to go or bidding on grids for eyes
lined straight ahead.
But, it’s just us, bent overhead.
Removed, we stray beyond their eyes, but you look
straight
ahead.
Re-moved to fall in line, your eyes are black holes where I used to see stars.
Peering over outside a view I don’t belong in, it goes black where you always belong.
Eyeballs lowering behind darkened eyelids,
the sun falls overhead to boil the city.
Bubbling below,
the streets and their people boil
over, burning stains of actuality onto branching memories.
So across the skyline the streets reach out grasping fire with buildings.
Pulling it down.
Pulling us down.
Pulling you down.
To burn fading foliage darkening in your eye,
the city sucks down the sun.
Swallowed in a translucent mass,
pounding through floors of glass.


The General Hospital towers run with the ether of either outcome.
Open wings leered over by tombstone-buildings of concentrated dead history.
Towers of flesh with cement laments of ancient ones crashing into general basements.
Building Romans sweep a coming of death.
Your eyes set under your smile, blind to light, welded shut with flesh,
fingering the organed accordions with organic sunsets in the true vision of a-morgue.
The band plays a decomposition for the altar’s son.
With composure he’s delivered, eclipsing inner composite compost,
positing lines of chorus tracks retreading lost summers,
but denying an altered son.




Gliding Drift

Dawn breaks, dawn breaks down.

Neon lights lengthen through hazy explosions;

Shrapnel-bats ooze through cluster-cities.

Pop-posters and plaques stick to skyscrapers that scrape the edge of the road,

Their papers lined with overture to caricature radiate with a snowstorm-familial glow

Cloudy haze subverts our gays, ashes kicked through our face, dusty vision of a nuclear-family-fission.

Ashes of aspirations burn-mark fissures onto roads that taste every claw on its palette.

Flicking tongues radiate chirps into cavities

that re-chirp them back to themselves.

Trip after trip to cosmic-churches dripping

away all but an atom-family.




Standing above, the city bellows and echoes. I watch them all as

they all consume, and the city consumes them.

Peering into that blind abyss gives only a perimeter.

You have to dive

in to find the depth,

and relinquish to it

some of your own.


Manuel Garcia: "I am a poet from the Toronto scene with a bachelor's degree in English from York University. Much of my poetry deals with isolation in a world that is more connected and diverse than ever. I use surrealism and abstraction to both convey my thoughts and inspire readers to create their own thoughts in response to my work. My work was recently featured on the MATO podcast, and you can find more of my work at manwellsite.wordpress.com."




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