Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 2



Ayşe Tekşen


Lover of Birds

He is a lover of birds
And me.
Mellow creature he is,
Though not aware of this.
We sit in a damp pool of tables
And sand and euphoric leaves
Of grass in the now, present second,
Knowing the second will vanish
Eventually, and a first will replace it.
The eventual beginning—
Though not happy always,
At a chance, perhaps.
We are hopeful—
Thanks to his evergreen child heart,
Full and fond of neon possibilities.
The beer he holds in his hands
Turns into divine water
Brought from lands of acorn
But never forlorn.
He cups his hands and offers
Not only water but a nest as well.
Come now, little bird,
He says, drink from these hands.
These hands have abandoned
The waters of pirates.
One day he will own
An armada of heavens—
Whether of metal or paper origin.
He will conquer the seas
And the spheres
Not designed for him.
He will be there,
And they will be his,
As it has always been
Meant to conclude with this.




The Poet's Stars

I see you fear you are the one I write to impress
And hope you are the star I write for.
Get rid of your hope. Fear may remain,
For the poet wrote a thousand poems once—
Sometimes for me, sometimes about.
Nice it was mostly, but—but here and there
It stung deep and unbearable. Each word a thorn
Scratching the skinless soul. His fingers opened wounds
Till she interrupted, or so he made me believe. Then,
I wrote one or two lines about her—I don’t know why.
To impress him, to compete with him, to defeat him
Or her or myself? And it starts again. His poems
Advance like waves washing over me, taking under
And drowning a sea of forbidden shores,
Shells that hide me—a probable me. Word
A wishful certainty—my certainty, my ends.




The Blue Book

I imagine his book of poetry to be blue—
Cover blue, spine blue, pages, poems, blue
Me, blue him to make blue
That he exists bluely and glued
To the notion of me praying for more poems
To arrive from his side of life to my sad here.
His signature is missing where signs speak
Of the abyss of timely injuries
And our days of youth and more sins.
Sins abandoned us the day he began writing
Blue things where I rested my head
And cried rivers and sang lullabies
Not felicitous enough to accompany him
To his worlds, and I would never be enough,
And he would always be blue—
Blue enough to burn my eyes—
Blue moon, blue child, blue sky and the sea
Accompanying the sky in its glorifying color.
When burnt are eyes, hearts follow.
Breeze does the work. Now no way of returning
To the road that would be paved but his pages
I’ll hold in my hands and make love to.
I love his blue, and he makes me—his blue.




The (Fallen) Art of Makeup

First, cover what’s a must;
dark circles
and red spots,
and then, pores
should be diminished
to the smallest acres
of skin flecks, and then—
then, skin should glow
and be pink—
some fake health
on the surface of the surface.
Spread foundation
even and equal
everywhere—
regardless of high and low,
cheek or chin. Forehead
must come close
to a pure whiteness
of dignity—
like the residuum
of white magnolias.
Where you shrewdly draw
around eyes with dark liner,
they need to attract the light
not arriving from him. Maybe a she
will grant the awaited compliment.
Shades of blue
or green
may mostly mingle
over eyelids—
lips only rarely.
Eyes can’t see
in these colors
but serve in such context
or in a mirror, maybe.
Brows are allowed
to be brandished
and to be there
as their own,
as they bear the confidence
a heart lacks—
in patterns of determinism—
and ponders
in anger or anguish.
Lips cannot be bare—
at least a tint of nude,
hidden they need to be
even when they surmount
in crimson.
But doubtless you must conceal them,
as afraid they are and bitter
against our indifference
to the bow they clasp
and the arrow they aim.
The aim of this art;
to show or to hide—
one can’t decide.
The decided sorrow
or the lost happy
surfacing through the sins
that skins undertake.
The naked skin will show
at midnight,
as the dark
reveals the truth,
always—
the maxim of being a human
who is molded and carved
and embodied and refutes
the order to be to.
The question is there
with its answer,
the fact with its lie,
her with that other her,
and him
pushed elsewhere
as distant as possible
from the affections
not yet glorified
within the lands
of the body.
They cover each other;
face and makeup,
essence and its structure—
one against the other
or, ever, for.




Burning Bridges

If they ask me to teach a lesson on Wordsworth
Or Blake or Coleridge, I’ll tell them bridges were burned
Long ago, their messages not delivered to this side
Of morrow of life. Though they’ve never been
Drawn to our side, we’re always hauled
To them. We think we are the future.
Time is not linear, nor their writings move as such.
Those high words written by Poe and Dickinson
Refer only to the past which pulls faster
And greater than our times. Eliot never wanted
Me to hold his poem. Bridges were burned.
Or they never existed. Those who are great
Should stay where they are—great and apart
From us who can’t appreciate what they call sublime.


Ayşe Tekşen: "I live in Ankara, Turkey where I works as a research assistant at the Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University. My work has been included in Gravel, After the Pause, The Write Launch, Uut Poetry, The Fiction Pool, What Rough Beast, Scarlet Leaf Review, Seshat, Neologism Poetry Journal, Anapest, Red Weather, Ohio Edit, SWWIM Every Day, The Paragon Journal, Arcturus, Constellations, the Same, The Mystic Blue Review, Jaffat El Aqlam, Brickplight, Willow, Fearsome Critters, Susan, The Broke Bohemian, The Remembered Arts Journal, Terror House Magazine, Shoe Music Press, Havik: Las Positas College Anthology, Deep Overstock, Lavender Review, Voice of Eve, Dash, The Courtship of Winds, Mizmor Anthology, Mojave Heart Review, NōD Magazine, Toyon Literary Magazine, and Sincerely. My work has also appeared or is forthcoming in Straylight, Headway Quarterly, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Rabid Oak."




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