Rigorous
Volume Three, Issue 4



Venetia Sjogren


Ex-Firebrand

I received notification that I do not fit the requirements
of a revolutionary firebrand any more;
being too at ease with the current power structures
facile and adept with politically correct terminology.
My poetry was lacking that certain inflammatory
fire. (It was a most damning charge.)

I am informed that I have grown staid,
old and conservative
having joined the ranks of the bourgeoisie.
My former afro is now a slick coiffure
the Che combat fatigues, emblems and flags
have been replaced by Rolex, Chanel and a laptop.
(This body is unwilling to withstand the excitement and fear of facing the rich, old, white men.)

Despite contributions to green causes
possessing a hybrid electric car
and making the proper, woeful sounds
when confronted with the genocide of Darfur, Somalia and Tibet
the melting polar-caps and continued predation
of women and children.
Nikki, Nader, Tutu, the Dalai Lama and others
no longer, can penetrate through my cynicism
(or perhaps it is just an experienced pragmatism).

Maybe the children can lead these charges
while I write of funerary flowers, killing fields
and futility
leaving me to treasure my meager comforts.




Death By Despair (or a random bullet)

I sat watching her body lie in the pauper’s coffin
and the spectators
as they reformed and performed
on the altar of a holy building
perfectly painted sun -glassed faces
streaked with strategic tears
one their eyes cocked at the audience
the other, at authentic mourners

they say that she lingered in a coma
say that she passed from a trauma
truth is
she died of despair (and a random bullet)
as she walked
unobtrusively
through the littered streets
waded among the human and inanimate
debris
to a house that was never
her home
too young to be so hopeless
so innocent
to be damned and listless
Mother says she loved her
Mother says her little girl was always so
quiet
quite an unassuming dormant
mouse
Mother forgetting the days
nights
weeks
months
she lay blissfully drunk
oblivious
to her child’s softly, piping, whispered pleas
for fried chicken, 'tator salad and apple pie
promised over and over but never prepared
of body, hair and clothing
never washed, beribboned and lovingly enfolded
of letters, numbers and stories
infrequently, drunkardly, reluctantly read or taught
of silly songs and ditties and the itsy bitsy spider
never with giggles and wiggles, sung
of maternal hugs and kisses, and make-her-feel-betters
rarely felt, seldom offered and received
the bottle tends to blur and obscure memories, realities
transmuting them miraculously into
revisionist inanities

one, who loved the child
sits quietly, angrily witnessing
the spectacle
wondering and grieving
why death by despair (and a random bullet)
never strikes the
guilty



Venetia Sjogren: "I am a 61 year old disabled homo sapien, fem, grandmother, a proud Latina of mixed cultural heritage, a borderline atheist and humanist. I delight in non-tribalistic and apolitical behavior. I am a pot-stirrer. One could even call me a militant abuelita. When I am not busy looking for “earn the gruel contract jobs”, I attempt to write words of thunder. Sometimes I succeed, often I fail. Back in 2005, I fled New Jersey, for the gentle mists of Seattle only to return to New Jersey, when my grandson was born. However, I consider myself a Seattle refugee hoping to return there, one day. Some of my publication credits include Poets Against the War, The Farmhouse Magazine, Jersey Works, and Howard University’s, The Amistad, The Cristell Writing Contests - The Book Lovers Haven and Wordgathering."




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