Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 1



Nadia Genoveva


Generational Burnout

I have lost myself three-fold
In the dead-end of a dusted sky.

Discovered a collaborative heartbreak.
Yielding itself to me every desperate evening.

My mother asks why I roam around
Dying lovers, phantom friends

Twirling my first memories
around her little finger.

A much smaller me is catering
her would-be suicide with glasses of water

Watching her on the floor until
I remember how to summon an ambulance

Maybe I only learned how to make myself useful
Among the almost-ghosts.

Or I don’t know a purpose
Outside someone else’s rock-bottom.

Shoveling water
Into someone I love.

Growing up, my aunties would wrap themselves in silk scarves
Henna gasoline gardens into my arms

Burning ourselves into paint thinner bouquets
Twist their hips, windmill hair

All to find a good husband
Someone worth the bleeding.

My mother bows to my fathers broken hands
Kisses each crack in his heel

My mother begs for death
And still makes his meal warm

Yields herself to him every desperate night
Never asks for more than a bill paid

In an alternate timeline,
I have died already.

I have no one to tend to
I am never a mother

I am never a small wife,
Bringing tea to an exhausted father

Rubbing shoulders which
Never carried me.

In today’s timeline, I uphold tradition.
Transplant joy from the gut of me

Scold myself for every too-tired.
Give till I’m born a faucet.

Bow at the edge of a sleepless night.
Lose myself in the ever-need of anyone else.




A Daughter’s Ghost

The day my father found out I was gay,
He had my mother pack my bags
Since then,
I have written myself into the holes of my mother’s arms and conjured up hopes of warmth
I have channeled myself into the cold underneath her wedding ring
Frosted over and shining
I hold my own hand over my back,
She sticks my ripped up family pictures into the screaming chimney of my father
Smoking pack after pack on the porch and calling for his children
Sometimes, I crinkle my nose the same way she did.
I wrinkle it in the mirror and remember how he hates when she does that.
The way that she does exactly what she wants to do.
The way she has these impulses that move like ticks on her face
The way she has still loved me when he thinks me heathen
I yearn for my mother's embrace like a haunting
I wonder if I am haunting her too
I wonder if I will see her in heaven
If I do, will she recognize me
I hope that my mother is a mother the best she can be
I wonder if my room still smells like cigarette butts and claires perfume
I wonder if she looks in my room to see if I’ll be there
I want to tell her I’m okay
That I ache for her
That I don’t know a body not held by her
Being told to choose between your queerness and your family
Is knowing that you've already lost them
Have you ever asked a creator to un-create you?
On some days,
I suffocate myself with her umbilical cord before she had the chance to
Release myself as dead
Release myself as a ghost before she could ever turn me into one
Have you ever hated your god so much?
Have you ever asked for heartbreak in the place of your own twisted flesh?
I am envious of the infants who can scream without being told to stop
Since then,
I have held myself in my own womb
Afraid to let myself go
Afraid to let myself cry out loud
Afraid to let myself love out loud
Since then,
I am birthing myself prideful
I am screaming everything that I need to scream
I am warm enough in the arms of a lover
I don’t have to hide
Since then,
If I fear for my life, at least it isn't from the people who raised me.
Since then,
I have become my own mother.
Since then,
I have patchworked myself a family
I have missed her in all of my poems.




Schizophrenia and Scabbing

My breast repulses itself
I scrape at the skin until it is a bare specimen.

                                    How do I keep you from hurting me?

The scabs arrive in patches
Schizo gnaws at my eardrums.

                 Is today the day I
                                          divert?

How does the flood                                                                                                                    
                                 Break
                                                                 Free (?/,)

by force(./?)

Your mother is strong
Like your hands at their worst

You curse with your father’s tongue.

I think... I
         have to go, I’m
sorry

What’s the use of space -
If not respected?

I’m sorry

I loved you
and still smiled at men in public

                                        Is there a love I don’t bleed
          To earn?

Schizo retreated into childhood
As we connected fists

The little girl more equipped to
take a blow.

                                    How do I become a good partner?

What did I do to mutate this love?

My jawline scars
Fingernails caked red

Ignoring your hands
Patient above my neck

                                     You missed a spot.

We licked each other’s wounds
And suffered the poison




Tan France Queer Eyes Me

Dress like you know you’re lucky to be alive.
Take risks.
Fall into garment and let it catch you.
Wear brown over top brown skin.
How many times have you seen us
outside an obituary?
Al-Jazeera?
National Geographic?
Tuck in your shirt.
Our breath is a radical notion.
Accentuate your waist.
Flaunt your chest.
Show leg, in sequins.
Has anyone ever told you you weren’t a sin?
Don’t dress for The Conversation.
Dress to distract from The Conversation.
Make it conform to your sharp edges
If they’re all thinking about the blazer,
They're not planning your execution
If you flash diamonds,
They cant stone you
Don't ask me how i’m still alive
I’m just as shocked as you are
Do you know what luxury is?
Prada, and queer Muslim survival
How could they kill something this beautiful?
We didn’t get to have role models,
So guess what we are?
Get into position.
Pose.
make eye contact.
Dare them to beat you and take it with your lashes on.
Neither of our fathers will look at us
and yet we still learned to tie a tie.
You became more than you bargained for
as soon as you kissed a girl.
So walk like you know it.
All this weight on my shoulders
and I’m still floating through red carpets.
No one told you this would be an easy ride.
What, you thought you were off the hook after coming out?
After the displacement?
After the hiding was over?
It's time to pull everyone else up.
Tired?
Tough break, kid.
Pick which of these blazers scares you the most and try it on now.
Even if your ancestors don’t want you, the entire Vogue catalog will.



Nadia Genoveva: (they/them) "I am a Philly-based poet whose writing seeks to name and nurse the feelings related to brown queer femininity, mental illness, fatness and more. I got my start with Penn State's CUPSI '17 slam team, later competing in the Feminine Empowerment Movement Slam in 2018, and most recently becoming a Pink Door fellow in 2019. In March 2020 I will be competing in the Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas, Texas."




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