Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 1



Michael Chang


[made in china]

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Let me begin again • Just cause you dated • Jake Gyllenhaal for a week • The One • 真命天子 • A republic if we can keep it • Cards thrown down in triumph • Like I found the most • Sanitary stripclub in the world • Boys of white race • Pull out the stops • Touch me celestially • I think about how • There are apples in the hallway

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Thirty-Six Stratagems • 三十六计 • Love Conductor • 爱情列车长 • Beautiful British Columbia • The only bear claws I’m interested in reading about are the pastries • Let’s be serious • Are you in the right headspace to receive information that could possibly hurt you? • I don’t want to comment on that, but the answer is no • One who talks too much errs too much • 言多必失 • Few words are best • 少说为佳 • One who is overcourteous is crafty • 礼多必诈 • Voice notes of Rudy Giuliani • Long poems are just short ones stitched together

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The Gay Panic Defense is a legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction, including murder. When a perpetrator uses a Gay Panic Defense, they are claiming that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity not only explains—but excuses—a loss of self-control and the subsequent assault. this defense implies that LGBTQ+ lives are worth less than others.

Gauche

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Whose eyes are locked on me • 是谁的眼神锁定我 • Justice Bao • 包青天 • I thought • it was okay to say • eyes slanted like Koreans • but then they told me • fortune cookie • is two words • yellow fever • gay panic • yellow peril • kindred spirits • of shame

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Maureen was talking about Pizza City • Her fat ass loves Pizza City • That is the address on her driver’s license • The best words someone could say to Maureen are: The Pizza is Here • Ever so often, she also commits voter fraud

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Like the Apostle Paul, I am all things to all men. I am right-leaning to you, and when I go home for Christmas I will be left-leaning to my family. I’m very libertarian, sometimes “right” sometimes “left” depending on the issue and the year - things that were center four years ago are now right wing (e.g., border security). That’s why I really don’t like the terms right wing and left wing. They work to describe a small number of ideologues, but almost nobody falls cleanly on one side of the other. So yeah I’m probably a far right-winger compared to you, but I’m actually far from a right-winger. Those labels are less interesting to me than the divide between authoritarian vs. libertarian anyways.

Ok but can i suck your dick y/n

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plum blossom meets minotaur on magazine gap road

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white lady in a white castle
so vanna white
talking about what she’s thankful for
bitch thanksgiving is over
castle turns into bloody pagoda
all calls are logged
cut open like a container
wake up with the weight of 56 on you
hate is an excellent motivator
guy at grill keeps eating burgers like ouroboros
she’s dangling a piece of paper
crazy-eyed & wailing
joe arpaio’s pardon
racism watchdog woof woof woof
girl boss & golden strawberries
hushpuppies & bulletproof glass
serving up lewks & pumice-polished truth
i feel you tight in my throat
it’s lined like a coffin
i text back dats cute to everything
sliders slide into my dms
one day i’m gonna write the food poem to rule them all
“poetry editor” = somebody, sitting on their bed, weighing 400 pounds
stars drift
drive-thru
a uniquely american phenomenon
billboards & bareback
raspberry jam smeared no splattered on toast
my face blank
quiet obedient azn
next in line to be white

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i am proud to say that i have a penpal
let's call him _____
he isn’t the usual boat-shoe-come-to-life type
he’s built like a tank, shoulders wider than sky
i think about taking his stupid boy body out for some galbi jjim
before we crumble & fall apart
he touches me so abstractly
pushes light into my body
i get lost in his weeds
just a little plant
swaddled in tall grass
in nature
龙争虎斗 (lit. the dragon wars, the tiger battles) (fig. fierce battle between giants)
we are tender & heroic
all kinetic curiosity
he cradles me like a fruit in his basket
scratches me behind the ears
i think about yellow yolk staining his face
dress him up in a velvet tang jacket
it’s bursting at the seams
i ready myself to take in
his bread & butter & meat & potatoes
mandarin collar & silk cord frog buttons & dragon jacquard silk lining
i try to be delicate but leave him in ruins
useless hunger & sensitive gums
liberty swallowed whole
he abhors my freedom & his empty
i hang the albatross of history around his neck
he puts his baseball mitts around my throat
breaks my skin
dirt devil
i’ll take the fall for him
be his alibi
watch him emerge from the ocean like a bond girl
halle berry was the best
she was thrown out like a dog
the date ended abruptly
he said dats enough of this mess
he would rather see his barber
fee-fi-fo-fum
having said that
you must be wondering what _____ & i talk about
in our letters
we discuss
how pomade makes his hair glisten
& gets that good shine going
i am
so blessed for his actual fucking existence
the best chris is chris pine but chris evans comes close
i am always heavy on the first day
this is not a poem
like clock-less casinos
he stops time
splits me open like a pomegranate
gaze squeezing the life out of me
ragdoll in mastiff jaws
i think about how his facial muscles manipulate
& contort into the perfect smile
his booty perky & shapely like nectarines
i study his syntax
wonder if he has a good singing voice
his angels carved into my walls
he builds a zoo in our backyard
fortified to withstand any blast
noah would be proud
strings of attachment
actually barbed wire
he leaves me a husk
camouflage dripping
scratches & stings
creases in skin wordless
every day i traverse a valley of disappointment
in my church clothes
sometimes it feels so good just to pretend
i had another penpal once
his name was mark
he drew me a card with a dragon on it
i remember it well
riotous colors & shapes & glitter
glitter!
the dragon looked a little sad
for a class i drew a tarot card
my sun had resting bitch face
the card was guantanamo orange & i used pencils of slightly darker orange & ocher & navy & there
were squiggles & whorls & fading & ombre
reality is, we don’t have time to be penpals anymore
we take days to respond to texts
i guess some of us are too busy being suburban or slightly fearful or right-of-center
& the rest of us are
cum stains on america’s couch
here for your entertainment
i suppose
at least you look nice in your boyfriend’s shirt
thx for coming to my ted talk



Michael Chang: (they/them) "I poet to feel alive. My writing has been published or is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Heavy Feather Review, Glass Mountain, Thin Air, ellipsis... literature & art, Q/A Poetry, Yes Poetry, Typo Mag, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Bending Genres, The Hunger, Cabildo Quarterly, Willawaw Journal, Neon Garden, The Conglomerate, Queen Mob's Tea House, Funny Looking Dog Quarterly, London Grip, Rogue Agent, Kissing Dynamite, BULL Fiction, Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine, Collective Unrest, Pink Plastic House, Little Rose, Milk + Beans, Love's Executive Order, Squawk Back, and elsewhere. I am the proud recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship."




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