Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 4



Kuo Zhang


In a Western Colorado Farmer’s Market

It exactly looks like
the one I ate in my hometown
in northeast China many years ago.

Dad hammered it open
with his fist.
I dug out the seeds
with my hands,
finished in a few bites.
We call it xiang gua (fragrant melon),
a local specialty.

Now, it just lies on one of the stands
in this Saturday Farmer’s Market.

Distancing from people,
I temporarily set free my nose
from the mask.

But it doesn’t smell like anything.

“What’s this?” I ask the seller.
“Cucumber.
You can cut it into slices,
Put it in salads.
It’s really GREAT!”




In Memory of Those Who Are Forced to Be Forgotten in China

   I. January 29th, Huanggang, Hubei Province

Suspected to be infected, Yan Xiaowen
is forced to be quarantined
in a designated treatment place,
leaving his paralyzed
17-year-old son alone
at home,
who’s found dead
6 days later
with his diaper
full of poop and pee.


   II. February 1st, Wuhan, Hubei Province

“Mama, Mama…” A girl screamed
in midnight, running after
a dead wagon
at the hospital front.
All the infected corpses
are taken away,
cremated immediately.
No last sight
allowed.


   III. February 10th, Wuhan, Hubei Province

For 7 days, Liang can’t eat anything,
nor can he stop the diarrhea.
No hospitals give him
regular dialysis treatment
due to his suspected infection
of the novel coronavirus.

“I don’t want to trouble you anymore.”
He told his wife, softly,
leaped off the 9th-floor balcony of his home.


   IV. February 24th, Shiyan, Hubei Province

The 6-year-old boy covered Grandpa
with a quilt, after he fell down,
“slept” on the bathroom floor
five days ago.
“Grandpa told me not to go out.
There’s virus outside.
I eat crackers for days.”



Kuo Zhang: "I am a Lecturer in Teacher Education at Western Colorado University. I have a bilingual book of poetry in Chinese and English, Broadleaves (Shenyang Press). My poem 'One Child Policy' was awarded second place in the 2012 Society for Humanistic Anthropology [SHA] Poetry Competition held by the American Anthropology Association. I served as poetry & arts editor for the Journal of Language & Literacy Education in 2016-2017 and also one of the judges for 2015 & 2016 SHA Poetry Competition. My poems have appeared in The Roadrunner Review, Lily Poetry Review, Bone Bouquet, K’in, North Dakota Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, Raising Mothers, MUTHA Magazine, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and Anthropology and Humanism."




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