Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Z Bell


semipermeable

she takes pockets of time, full pockets
filled with time / she makes the
whole year / so holy that whole days
slip through / whole prayers turn inside out and stay lost

at home in a holy body, i am full up with drip / whole sad songs dance
through me bumping / rhythmically - a low whole note with
shoulders pummeling / through a crowd of whole women / who filter
their love through / me, lovers who distill / me / to a puddle of sip and
my mother weeps / for her legacy so the music / tears from my lips /
my guitar absorbs my fingertips / my grandmother’s hands were holy
too / with touch - she crocheted
whole blankets / to cover me up

it takes me weeks, whole scoops of
time and an entirely new home
every time to / germinate these damn seeds / i carried them
across whole bedrooms down short streets it takes me / weeks
to place an online order to make sure they / have
everything i need before / i ask for it

so many needles you’d think my gender makes me porous / my skin
so / cratered with self harm that the / t shots feel like shooting /
stars / i wish upon a scar

but a prayer is not made of promise and my stomach
cannot hold / my spirit from falling
out sometimes / it spills holy bile in the morning
up and out through / my mouth - the nausea / erupting avid
amen
over my tongue




dear bb and sicki (a letter to old imaginary friends)

there are always more things to tell you.
             i’m sorry you broke mom’s glasses.
             years later she’d be blind anyway. still
             i can’t say i didn’t do it. now she’s dead. i
             blamed you instead. grandma knew. she’s
             dead now too.
i’ve spent most of my waking years writing letters.
             i’m sorry i didn’t remember to let you know.
             someone watches over my shoulder as
             my spirit crawls inside these poems.

             you’d still think i’m just as young as
when i met you
             my heart wasn’t yet a pendulum.
             real friends didn’t feel like prayers but
             you did. thank you
             for coming to me in a recent tear. i’ve always
             cried for something that isn’t still here.




eat me

might swallow this crush
with several sips of medicine.
your mouth with teeth and tongue ;
unfamiliar, distilled simple,
infrequent, fresh-scented ;
appraised from distant description :
cured intrigue still tastes like salt.

dream and linger : remember. creamy.
some sweet marble to scrape
your palette with texture -
swollen, torn to silk by saliva,
pulled to a piping suspended poach.
savor or fever ; an offering of cheek,
a whole slice of bite from some coars/ed meal.

stomach all with local travel / think - still an atlas.
someone should lick this globe. again, now, fingerfound
& finally fed. your bed is probably
indulgent too. why else should someone take
their time to get (t)here : all with patience
to digest lust when anticipating dessert.




tell me i’m an alchemist, i can

curate a moment to fit snugly :
it won’t rip at the edges even when struck at thin.
everything is coCreated even when especially when

i have been alone.
there are offerings i make that don’t always sound like thank you :
still a praise dance & still with rhythm :

everything is
a drug when it’s prayed to hard enough :
an idol was once called sin but i promise i am godly.

a bed is with texture and smell and color
those are all ingredients :
eat this rest & digest the

gift. a gem
is made of intense vibration that isn’t always visible except
when it’s finished it’s called shiny and sometimes the value is disguised :

called a product when really the bright is all in
the immense pressure the dark spent to birth something sunny.

should there be pause, think spell think :
if i am not Creating then i have not eaten enough today.

witches drink their own brew and it’s called medicine when
it’s given to a spoon, to a palm : sip
a pot of stir. it’s tea. always more than one bag. another herb, a root.

grandmas make mothers. made me a
prince : tell me i’m my own legacy, too.




one party

y’all playin. we got these libido ones kissin cute in the corner. these other rhythm ones at the speaker nodding and taking requests. those bodies over there with sweat and hips and shoulders. even the head ones creating clouds we can smell and taste. she just got here and it will only be a few minutes before she can’t help herself. what do y’all want to know? i have a girlfriend and a girl who loves me and there are too many people here for that to be the same person. so she watches me from an armchair, righteous and pointing to my patterns so bitterly that the rum in her heavy cup, i’m sure, tastes smoother by now. and she speaks to me leaning in from two inches away, cooing at my lips, i’m aware, that her boyfriend feels threatened. and okay so what exactly am i supposed to do with that information. i’m not savage. monogamy is poison and hurt people hurt people. the tradition of pouring into a single one means at least one of you will overflow. so. y’all wildin if you think imma let love look like lack. so. she kisses my cheek. one of us is learning how to honor growth. this one bogged down in a caricature of memory and the other still kept honest to its prime. we over here by the fire escape wondering how to tetris our bodies through the window. feet or head first. which one. we just need to breathe some fresh air.



Z Bell: "I am Bright and Lovely and do not give all the credit to the sun. My writing invites a collective witnessing of experiences that hurt so much, it demands growth in spirit and in heart. My music and hip-hop gives us all permission to believe in alchemy, too. I am a Black, transMasculine, disabled, queer femmeBoi from New Haven, Conneticut who enjoys eating ginger, strolling through snowy winters and smoking organic herbal blends through a wooden pipe like a Grandpa. See https://zbell12193.wixsite.com/zbellpoetry, https://soundcloud.com/lowkeyztho/tracks and https://www.instagram.com/queerchaosbear/."




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