Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 2



John Franklin Dandridge


(this is a recording)

When the sound came,
the sound,
it came,
the sound,
the sound that no one wants to hear—
and it came.
The sound came.
The sound came.
It was the sound
that no one
wants to hear.
It came,
the sound
we already heard
in our heads,
we who never wore watches,
who only wore alarms.
We heard the sound,
the sound no one
wants to hear.
Then we ran
for the Clockhouse
overlooking the
Garden of Need.
We hid for 9 months
when the sound came,
the sound of fear.
Those who only heard sirens
were told to clinch their fists tight,
for they were going way down
to the Devil’s Deep.
So we broke
into the Clockhouse
overlooking the
Garden of Need,
where we hid
for 9 months,
our country on top
of the world’s most wanted list.
Once united,
but when hunted,
our country split
into anonymous states.

White House-shaped spaceships
were the clues in cartoons.
We ate wild apples
that messed with our sanity—
but tasted like candy—
before the sound came,
before the sound drowned
out a sound in the background,
a sound
no sound
could ever describe
in noise.
It drowned
in the sound
consuming America’s ego
until America could
consume no more,
no more than
computers or coffins.
It sounded like man
was made to
fit in a box.
So we hid
in the Clockhouse
overlooking the
Garden of Need.
Sound of the Devil’s Deep
all around us.
We ate wild apples for 9 months,
saw no mathematically drastic difference
between the world and art.
And we only came back
because we heard a sound,
a sound
no sound
could ever
describe in noise.
(this is a recording)




said a superhero on his day off to a villain

My father murdered your father
in the 2nd Civil War, or was it WWIII?
Nowadays, people think it was a video game,
which is one of many Western misconceptions
that makes it seem as if our country is the best,
just because we have the fanciest weapons.
Nevertheless, your father’s blood
spilled into my father’s wounds,
so that makes me more American than you.
What now?
You want revenge?
Well your revolution will just keep repeating itself.
Your revolution will just keep repeating itself,
while old money starts running out
and new money begins to get old.
Your revolution will just keep repeating itself,
when religious films are filled with so much sex
and violence, it becomes sacrilegious to watch them.
Your revolution will just keep repeating itself.
What cancer can’t kill, a comet will.
Man monopolizes medicine; nature creates a better bomb.
And after you realize your world is a shopping mall
you won’t be able to steal yourself away,
because your body has bar codes
beneath bar codes,
beneath bar codes, which won’t peel off
without stripping you of your person.
Remember the last words your father
spoke to my father
before breathing his last breath?
‘Your revolution will just keep repeating itself,
even when you give your son your name
and he sees life through your eyes
as you see death through mine.’
It wasn’t subtly poetic,
but subtle in the same way flags
gradually began to disappear
after being patriotic was no longer a trend.
Poetic, in the same way America slit both its wrists,
pointed a finger, then raised its fist.
And it came all the way down to this.




The Question that Created Us and the Answer
which Switched Us On

The Professor entered the room and wrote on the board:
If you were a machine, which machine would you be?

The Twins thought for a moment, then agreed that they’d both
be phones—ones with the smartest cameras—because people equate pictures
with memories and mostly talk about the past.

Then, the New Kid chimed in, “Yeah, my memories distract
me, slow me down. That’s why I’d be a clock, a clock so big
it’d have its own house, because I need a constant
reminder to only be in the now.”

The kid in the red shirt with GREEN printed on it in blue letters
said he’d be a TV, “But when people watch me, I’d turn
rated G movies into rated R, dramas into comedies, etc.”

“That’s similar to what I was thinking”, spoke the kid in the blue
shirt with GREEN printed on it in red letters. “Except I’d be a
video game system that created games
based on the people who played it.”

I didn’t know the name of the machine
I’d be, but it was any such device capable of recording dreams,
then played them back for those who didn’t want to sleep,
and allowed them to dream when they’re awake.

When we asked him for an answer, the Professor
confessed that he’d be the machine which switched us on.




4.5 billion years and 108 seconds

These con
dominiums
will make
great
jungle
habitats
one day.

Even now.
Take a gaze at that six flat
in between them.
See someone washing clothes at 3 a.m.
Another upstairs,
eating dinner in the dark.
And their kitchen faucet’s
running.

Oh, look.
Down the hall,
she squeezes
every bit of sweetness
from a black/white horror movie
on a laptop
under the covers,
then fingers herself
with the flickering from the screen.

And look!
Next door,
he’s been speaking
to himself alone,
but he doesn’t
shut up
when entering
public.
Only interrupts
himself to shout,
“It’s too crowded on this bus to dance!”


John Franklin Dandridge: "I received my M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. My chapbook, Further Down Rd., was published in 2010 by Fast Geek Press. I have poems published in past issues of Callaloo Journal and Former People among others. I live near the North Pond in Chicago and many times write under the name Wolfgang Gillette."




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