Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 4



Adesina Brown


The Cop Within (Inc.)

upon further investigation, I have found that I have yet
to kill the cop within
. somewhere deeper in me,
it lingers, quick to bite and venomous, too, and it has only
shown its true colors under a purposeful freezing out. to see itself
reflected as only pain, it recoils and refortifies,
and convinces itself that nothing exists without it. I open its cage
and give it the space to come out, yet it burrows itself in the sullied ground
of damnation. locked in its own chains, the cop within
reaches to throw out the key (or otherwise swallow it,
allow it to be covered in the shit of tyrannical violence),
so I take the key from it and unlock the chains, release it once again. does it begin to realize —
no, now the cop within huddles in the corner of its open cage,
snaps at the hand that feeds it,
assures itself it is the hero (the hero no one asked for, no one needs,
and the hero that does not do its job);
the cop within shares the hand of the ego,
cannot imagine life without itself. here, I offer it an alternative:

true care looks like love. true care looks like
trust. absolution comes when the cop within sacrifices itself in the name of
true care.




What Y'all Call Burnout

My heart aches to write. It is a Saturday when I realize
I have only ever read Black poetry. Huh! What a feat —
to consume the words of my people (my people a part of,
apart from, me) and say, yeah, I read poetry. I read Black
poetry. And my heart aches to write Black poetry. Blacker
even than that — pitch Black. The space within me Blacker
than Black. It is probably a Thursday when I realize that
we’re always meant to be love and light rather than dark.
I want Black. I want a Black hole to consume me when I die,
something like all that Black ash being swallowed up and spit
back out and turned into a star. Stars make me black — like the
Sun makes me Black, even when I have not seen her for a while
now. It is a Tuesday when I realize I have never said another
word like Black. Rolls off the tongue. I smash a fruit fly between
my two palms and see it is still Black, like me, Black as me. It as me.
I saw a comment on a Monday that said — why do americans make
everything about race ? genuinely curious —
and then I thought on
a Monday night — why not? u so blind u don’t see my color
or u just don’t want to
or u just do
and u don’t want to say anything.

My heart aches to write — I have only ever read Black poetry and,
I realize, I have only ever written Black poetry, too.




Leaden

i regress into a fine point
of a sharpened pencil:
there is a reluctance to define
myself, a definition would only bring
shame shame shame
so i live in this purgatory,
forever crossing over between heaven and hell
(hell, heaven;
man, woman;
woman, man;
heaven, hell):
this voice is one i tweak
to get past
(or otherwise to pass)
so i become another man
for each person i meet,
said today you love me —
and yet somehow that changes
depending on the way you have
(forgotten) (chosen) to refer to me —
here are the thoughts that come pouring out
when i have lost those eight hours of filter
when my body reclaims itself
and i wake up to look at my skin and see
this is nothing to me
until written by You.



Adesina Brown (they/them): "I am a writer from Los Angeles, California. My first poetry collection SOUND: Audible and Inaudible is available on Gumroad. My work has been featured in Exposition Review and Serendipity Literary Magazine, as well as in the essay anthology Postcolonial Star Wars. I am currently working on a novel."




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