Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 4



Lex Chilson


Think of me in the holes of your sheets

I’m not like other girls.
I’m the perfect manic pixie dream girl,
barely real and only skin deep,
hidden under rolls of fat and clogged pores.
I’ll teach you how to live and bring you up to par
My problems will remain mine when we’re together
Forget the tears on my cheek while we kiss
Commitment issues is my middle name
But rest assured we’ll never get that close
We wont talk about the past
I’m the champ of beer pong, Overwatch, BBQ burgers,
I don’t wear dresses.
I live in Docs and anger-filled pants.
I wipe burger grease on my legs,
we do not use napkins in this house.

“You aren’t like the other girls,”
My first kiss is probably the coolest thing about me,
I don’t believe in monogamy.
Tongue stuck down my throat,
pushed up against walls.

I’m not like the other girls.
You don’t wanna be seen with me.
Thighs so big the rest of me is hidden,
Mouth so loud, you won’t be able to get a word out.


“You’re not like the other girls.”
You’re not good enough for real love,
too big for real love,
too confused for both loves.
I try to find people who make me feel like I am good enough,
people who tell me I’m good enough.
Validate me through fairydust and half-ass kisses-
There are strings of people who don’t really matter-
Tell me I mean nothing to you
Tell me
I’m not like the other girls.

Solve my problems through strangers,
other tongues down my throat,
spitting my stories up on streets,
I have no control what people think of me,
what they think of me,
what they think,
think of me,
scream sinner.
“You’re not like the other girls”

And you know what, you’re right.
I’m not like the other girl,
and I don’t want the compliments anymore.




Bees Hate Human Breath

I wonder how easy it is for you to coat my tongue in apathy.
How easy it is for you to spit your feelings on the ground
like you’re marking your territory-
like this space belongs to you and only you,
like this isn’t a shared space between you and I,
I wonder how easy it is for you to
drip poison from your tongue
and pollinate my body
until I feel bees under my skin.

Bees hovering in prayer over the lavender that is my voice,
pollinating my gums with nectar-laced dreams of recovery,
make my laugh the embodiment of summer-
Like there is always a hum at the back of my throat,
honey bees buried in my cavities,
workers in my tonsils,
royal jelly wrapped around my teeth,
tongue like honey,
lips like pollen,
the bees in mouth wanna meet you.
show me how to spit like you.

And not in the sweet gentle way like bumble bees,
like making something from nothing
like kissing flowers in sunshine
like bees dancing in summers;
but in a ticked off, female-worker,
too busy for your nonsense,
will sting even if she’s gonna die-
type of way.
Rattle under my skin and dance in blood flow,
make my body the hive you’ve always wanted,
fill me up with bees by the pound,
smoke me to calm me down
Still, sting you when you look away.
Pump venom into your skin and
wonder if you were worth it.

Your instinct is to pull stingers out.
Set them on the table,
settle the humming,
prevent the swarm from leaving,
offer me a tablespoon of stolen honey,
tame the bees inside of me.
Push the guard bees to the side and call me yours.

Open my chest up and feel a buzzing from a body that isn’t my own,
let someone else sting me, as I belong to them.
Let the bees in my chest come to a hum,
use their compass to find a new body to colonize,
let the flowers in my body die,
and leave me drenched in honey.
Hardened in honey,
still praying in honey.

Teach me how to spit my feelings up,
and you won’t find any cavities.

I’ll dance in truthful memory
until my hair curls into honeycomb,
I’ll chew on lavender to erase the taste of us,
sip nectar to forget us
and throw up memories of wasted space in my brain
that you can’t even seem to remember.
Become my own person, let my body become a honey house.
Breathe in my erasure and condense nectar into honey,
I am my own hive now,
find bees hidden in my depths,
a queen in my chest,
Wash my mouth with pond water,
and I’ll spit up venom.

When a bee stings someone,
the bee is the one that dies.
We don’t sting if you’re gentle,
too stubborn to risk our lives for you-
so instead we coat our tongues in apathy
and wait for summer’s end.




Detox of Distance

I splash in rivers, but don’t know how to swim.
I drown in infatuation on first date with white lies
and sip on Tinder dates to get by,
even Bumble is too much commitment for me.
Messaging someone within 24 hours is a death wish.
Online dating justifies avoiding confrontation and commitment.
Sometime I’d rather learn someone’s zodiac sign than anything else about them
I’m always falling in love with the idea of someone,
choking on possession and attachment issues before I get too close-
watch the pendulum swing between distant and attached,
justify toxicity with a detox of distance to determine our future-
I fall in love too easily.

When I like someone,
splashing turns into swimming and swimming into drowning
and suddenly dating doesn’t seem so safe anymore.
Dating feels like shackling my ankles to two anchors and letting myself drown,
let the fish pick at my skin until I’m skinless,
let the seaweed wrap around my throat until I’m silence,
There is no such thing as idly swimming in someone else’s mind.

They’re all stronger than me.
My dates could talk under water if they tried hard enough,
speak to fish-like men wrapped in algae and wondering
who is worth remembering
and those worth
forgetting.
Dance in kelp-laced curves in the deep end and worry about
not being able to get to the surface-

I must always have an escape plan to my relationships.
Watered-down flower pots hold my love letters safely on land
as I try to remember how to forget someone,
how to erase the salty residue of exes,
how to dip my oily body in water and make it out alive without
letting my body consort.

I avoid lovers at all costs after a while,
let myself become a seashell collection of other people,
shift the moon the other way to change the tides,
preventing my rocks from weathering,
pour cold water on the land that is my heart
and build dams in my arteries.

But I know when my veins run dry,
I will miss the water.




To Cut Out A Tongue

I wonder how easy it is for you to spit your feelings on the ground
like you’re marking your territory-
like this space belongs to you and only you,
like this isn’t a shared space between you and i,
and every other girl you’ve ever kissed.
I wonder how easy it is for you to write in another tongue and claims words that aren’t yours-
clench the truth through your teeth and bite your cheek.
I wonder how you can coat my tongue in apathy
and teach me how to spit my feelings on the ground like mucus,
like chewing tobacco,
like tongue-tied butterflies only following the path to self-destruction
they remind me of you.
I wonder if you could teach me how to lick my lips
even when I know they’re bleeding remorse,
and enjoy the pain while it lasts,
breathe in oral traditions and only oral traditions,
pass down your tongue through generations,
show me how to spit like you.

I wonder how easy it’d be to coat my tongue in toothpaste after orange juice
so I know what self-help feels like,
what taking care of yourself feels like,
what knowing what it’s like to be okay with being alone feels like
define me by my cavities.
Define me by the bacteria in my mouth carried on through you,
call me a dirty woman.
Define me by memories of French kisses,
the sloppy kind,
the too slow kind.
Define me by the words I've swallowed,
the memories,
the tongues,
the nights,
the men,
you.

I wonder how easy it’d be for you to coil your tongue around my throat
and force me to tell you how I really feel,
how many nights I’ve spent wishing you were gone,
how many times I’ve spit feelings up of my own.

Teach me how to spit my feelings up,
and you won’t find any cavities.
I’ll dance in truthful memory
until my hair curls into familiar forgotten locks,
I’ll chew on gum to erase the taste of us,
sip orange juice to forget us
and throw up memories of wasted space in my brain
that you can’t even seem to remember.

Wrap your tongue around my throat for oral traditions passed on to you,
through your teeth,
your neck,
molars,
gums,
memories.

Teach me how to wash my mouth,
and I’ll never be called a dirty woman again



Lex Chilson: "I am a Puerto Rican poet, filmmaker, activist, and journalist hailing from the North Side of Chicago. I am currently studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an Emphasis in Writing. I have previously been published in Rookie Mag, WaterSoup Press, Literary Orphan Journal, and Verve Lit Mag. I have performed across the city of Chicago, from open mics to competing in Young Chicago Authors’ Louder Than a Bomb Festival to performing in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 21 minus showcase. My work, other than the craft of poetry, includes the intersections of my overlapping identities as explored through fibers, film, and collage. Justice and community are vital aspects of my art. My visual work previously was featured in the All-City High School Visual Arts Exhibition (2018) and All-City Senior Portfolio Exhibition (2019). You can find my writing on the Red Line most days documenting Chicago life."




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