Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 2



Preeti Shah


Mindfulness II

I live in the comma     before the dream begins

        before it penetrates
filling the gills of my window blinds
    with a river of moonlight
                                                                                      I am lost somewhere

in the pause of a horse’s halt
          twisted from a thousand thoughts
      woven into reins

I follow the smooth curved back of the punctuation
into its black unbridled hair     into the tangled scream of ravens

I have learned hell is a kingdom      built from a single doubt’s ripples
like a camera shutter catching    our hesitations    on film    before orgasm

I whisper my universe out          with each breath
my breath light as a cotton harvest           my pain cutting
like the jaw of its bristles




From Up Here

From up here,
you cannot see the desert
of dry tongues cracking
between the burnt ankles
of Mumbai high-rises.

From up here,
a million bent backs begging
form the rusty leg
of a corrugated tin roof.

From up here,
you mistake the blood spilled
in every gulley, home, and hospital
for paan spit.

From up here,
the red brown earth looks like
the decomposing muscle of a nation,
the dismembered limb
of a multi-armed God.




A Meditation

We must reside beyond
the edges of ourselves:
     like a vagrant passion wandering,
seeking a home in the aid of others,

I must be so small,
    dissolving to become a viable planet,
with the capacity to grow
    into the wisdom of a child.

I must first know love before
learning its name like a babble,
   as if love was already planted into me
like the dispersal of seeds in a million pinecones,
   as if I only learned to stand
because my spine formed the peninsula
of a coniferous forest.

You must accept the foreigner
of your hate to embrace the stranger.
You must meditate in the heart’s grove
watchful of each thought that springs
like a golden deer without reaching
for the bow.

We must reside beyond
the edges of ourselves:
     like a martyr accepting a noose
for a bride, whose wedding is
a freedom for another man.



Preeti Shah: "I am a Queens-based Indian American healthcare worker and meditation teacher who was a finalist for the Brooklyn Poets 2019 Fall Fellowship and 2020 Hamptons Retreat Fellowship. I have poetry upcoming in Soundings East and Newtown Literary, and art upcoming in Penn Review. My Instagram handle is @babyprema."




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