Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 2



Sam Kaspar


A Physical Impression  (i got the look)

ears perk up, the doorknob clicks

feet walking in, black shiny shoes
clack on interview floors, not too loudly
a polished graceful hallway glide-walk

knees bend, just enough to get near the chair
not genuflect, not pray, but transitioning to

strong quadriceps, between Knee bend and

hips flexing, synchronized smoothly with the knees and muscular back
to reach the chair in a controlled fashion, everything planned and leading to this moment Of the

buttocks meeting chair, propping me up to start Meeting the decision makers
Chair supporting me partially, and i’ll do the rest
it has one of those cheap-cushioned vinyl seats and will probably leave
a physical impression, now and After i’m gone
oh, they’ll judge me by it, no doubt

nerves and abdomen, tighten the core, posture, sequential
vertebrae like dominoes snapping into position, sitting tall at attention
tall as i can within my own

skin, each having our limits
trying to look comfortable, not like someone trying too hard to suck in a

gut i haven’t got
washboard abs
fresh pressed suit
exquisite lilt of the head as i show Some

personality, like my parents taught me
as i respond to Their cookie cutter greetings Of dead

faces processing
yet another applicant

chest breathes deeply, nose senses
scent of one person’s minty product, thinly veiled halitosis
smell of one person’s perfume, in this scent-free building
scent of one person’s dog, i’d guess an obedient pointer Based on how he judges
     scent of one person’s intimate partner which Made me uneasy
Faculties heighten, Or diminish, i haven’t made up my

mind

fingertips, hands check pencils and note paper, after shaking

hands, Steadily

elbows off the table, manners and such

voice is almost given permission, but they speak first

eyes looking at them, but they look at me harder
i am the subject apparently
One clearly doesn’t like the looks of me
despite my polished… despite my coiffed… in spite of my professional, perfect courtesy
i got the look
not the look i tried to project, But
the look of indigestion that i’d spoiled something for them that i didn’t even know they had

neck recedes, tilts away, while not breaking their… Stare too noticeably

shoulders, each with a torn rotator cuff…
but they won’t know that about me if i don’t need to reach overhead
for a desk job
but they also don’t know That i’m healing, strengthening, and over-reaching won’t be a problem now
   …One had to be dismantled and sewn back up, the unnatural but successful thing of cutting someone surgically open, see what’s inside that ails them, fix it and expect to be decent thereafter, with healing and time, feeling lesser years old and perfect enough for my needs
   …the Other luckily responded To non-interventional care, exercise, the muscles around it hypertrophying, the strength of my other graces overcoming the defect, compensating for a problem that i wouldn’t really believe was there because the pain went away, the strength returned, but pathology underlies it, i know that now

yes, i got the look, they gave me the look, the
brown mask nods, but covers my soulful eyes, my head
my brain, my mind, my face They don’t see
i’m built just like you, except, in this scenario
no workout, no exam prep, no question coaching Can make you Expect that
everyone has to make a good impression, but i realize
i have to make a better impression
and also thank you for your time




they calculate my age

Tip tip tapping the cane, down lanes of deserted parks with no grace while walking, limp and fairly glimpsing: hair, gray and not quite there but listening… to my talk full on, faithfully partake community conversations. They’ve all left or died; i stay on the route. The few strangers who see me as a ghost, they know I’m old but not old enough to look like I need help, so they walk briskly by and avoid eye contact. A food truck used to be here, covered in salt (and pepper), hair found in the burger - brings a subtle rage, handled patiently, the cost, the wisdoms come, in middle age, truck covered now in moss, but school age, or maybe my twenties or thirties: When I started my business, busy, never saw the kids much, missed a lot of outings and movies, they went with their Ma. I tracked them though, would kiss them goodnight and laid blankets over their bodies as they slept peaceful, not wakening when I’d flush their neglected toilet for them in the next room. But time took that task from me as they grew, knew how to do more around the home. And part-time jobs, they punched up tickets at the theatre, off to new adventures all alone, that they asked for, a frontier in cities, diaspora (of our home), habituation. New pathways, navigate, of late I watch, but they vanish too. It keeps replaying in me (though I don’t know what they think about, I’m in twilight now and it’s darkish). Rewind, childhood, mine, or was it theirs. Daft, I can’t remember either well. Bald-born and growing, knowing not much of how I came to be. The manner of my drafting in (mysteriously), healing in the new world but the only one I’ve really known. People were always guessing at my age. Not the pre-conception seduction figuring out which new-year’s party it must have been or something like that, as if the Act is so rare in this play, fullness. Not relatives calculating my gestation. No, it was after that, because I was old enough to remember, that they calculate my age, crafting numbers in broad figures, we’re each a stat unless my photo sparks a question about what I’d maybe grow to be, if a new place took me. To some who crunched the stats, I mattered more than the adults: when reporters, those with access and who find it pertinent to say how I got here, that kids, too were killed on the raft – story at eleven.




the sieve

Text creeps in, to minds, mine, hind legs down like a pup, arms outstretched learning, reaching for that A. Canonical, satirical, math grids wrought in teacher’s brew they serve up, drawing from some deep well of knowledge, some vast junkyard, or museum-treasured infinite archive, discretely bordered throughout like oil beads and oceans. Stealth, creep, stepping out of comfort zones of bedroom… worried more about getting caught by parents, moreso than real guilt. It’s far more interesting to sneak out, anticipating the rendezvous, listen to your deepest thoughts and seem to care, remember history together, shared archived inside jokes. Plus there’s always the maybe of making love. Next day’s boring, have to teach a class while still thinking about my date. From back then. How in the movies love conquers all, but now there’s no time for a morning quickie or even a snuggle. It would make me late. Seems it’s more fun to save retirement funds than enjoy a beautiful morning impromptu. My life is near ended – it’s always been, with 86 years anticipated, if I’m average or lucky, but that’s far away and looks small in the halls of history, the universe of the earth. Wonder, how do you escape your relevance as a human, how do you first attain it, why are these apparently at crossed purposes now that I put them alongside eachother? The inside jokes and my job, my identities, seem like nothing in the cosmos, and the cosmos seem like nothing when planning my day. They’re coming, depends on timing, how we vary the spin. New visitors: They're coming (to take over) versus open up the gates, the sieve-like gates. New ideas, second-guessing how to spend my day(s). New people who don’t stand around existentially wondering, after training for aggressively succeeding, not pondering whether they’d accept success granted, like a money-filled sack, and the ‘what would you do with it’ question – and my best buddy says find who owns it. Does the person, death, recognized – you exist, I see you, you’re somebody whose memories matter… matter to the heritage, if it’s so quickly changed, erasure of the dusty history, books nobody cares to study, something so quickly pushed aside from the lexicon of vast literary centuries, maybe somebody resurrects it to have a graduate thesis sounding exotic, exclusive, pondering ancient grains of truth in obscure text, fresco making your picture before the plaster dries. I guess I’d spend most of that grad study at the pub. Don’t pollute yourself? It’s my body, my country, my world and universe to attain – it’s what I’ve been told anyways, engendered there as they count my years, my contributions, me as commodity with rent paid, grant received, wages cashed and taxed, and watched through smarter computers: figuring up on my likelihood of getting an expensive injury, ending it all, pride and all. Text reads out; I bleed out; we are the same.



Sam Kaspar

Sam Kaspar: "Being of Lebanese heritage, and having lived in Canada (born and raised) and the US (16+ years), I’ve been glad to have experienced a lot of different perspectives. Other wonderful opportunities of insight have come my way through my career in medicine, extensive years of rowing races, traveling, raising a family, studying in many different universities, teaching, and self study through my inherently meditative nature.

My poetry, prose, and photography has appeared or is forthcoming in Vallum, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Burnt Pine Magazine, Wingless Dreamer, Tower, and others."




Top of Page

Table of Contents






Visit our Facebook page          Visit us on Twitter


editors AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com
webmaster AT rigorous DASH mag DOT com