Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 2



Sarah O. Oso


Northside Dr.

Atlanta, Georgia

We tell the city we love her,
that she is luminous
even when it rains,
her starry lights peeking
through cloudy skyline
We, in our tight tops and fearlessness,
zooming across the night,
feeling impassable

Maybe this time she asks
what it is we’re racing against,
left-laning in the white Civic
almost tougher than we think,
four to a backseat,
crammed thigh-to-thigh
music loud in our mouths,
but we won’t know
the answer—

not now, anyway,
with the bass still blaring,
all of us falling in love with the speed,
death and life simple
as a slick, black road




Naming Rite

Call me by the Current that stirs me,
the fall and rise of my dance

the dew that gathers wet
on my brow
and undersides of arms

and breasts
with their twin rivers

I say —
Name me for the moontide
that brings in blood,
for the Beginning of me

the waterplace foaming
at the middle of me,
the giving of me,
the kind of reveling that runs
over

Make name for my brazen tears

Spell the woe I carry atop
my head, the well
from where I fetch it

I say —
Name me bank and flood,
an outpouring,
a wind bearing rain

In the night,
a lover mistakes me
for monsoon

I say —
there is no mistake




I’ve Offered the Muse Weekends Off

She blows on my ear
     or sings most business days,
     sits with me after-hours some evenings,
     knees under chin, in the bathtub.

Today she folds both arms stiff
     across her chest instead, demanding
     fairer wages, vacation time,
     and coffee.




Cat Poem

If the cat could speak,
she wouldn’t.

She’d go on, business as usual,
hunting quietly for
what she’d never find,

escaping photographs,
vanishing into the dark hours,

only to reappear again
between your ankles.

Whose ghost are you?
you’d ask.

And she, considering, maybe,
would remain silent –
a still black shadow,

each yellow circle
of her eyes gleaming
like a moon that’s drifted out

from a poem you heard somewhere
but can’t quite remember.




Poem after Hookup

It happens only once,
as these things do then repeat
like scratched record in memory:
Here are his hands rolling the joint,
held up to my mouth, his mouth,

our kiss a long note,
the thin paper between us, city light
waltzing in through window, smoke,
his skin and mine and the cold
of the glass—

This must be how it lasts,
the touch that doesn’t stay
but sends its jazz trumpeting
down the spine. Love’s clumsy, the way
it comes stumbling over everything

and nothing—


Sarah O. Oso: "I'm a recent Georgia Tech graduate who can't get away from words. Some of my poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Four Ties Lit Review, Dragon Poet Review, and Raw Art Review, among others."




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