Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Maitreyee


A Thought as This

For a week now you have been on my mind.
Every picture takes it’s time. That’s what I have been saying
But now that I have come this far, as spread out a brand new sheet
So tell me what you want to be.
It could have been the Paris streets.
And if you don’t give me any encouragements; I will go out
For a walk instead. And face you again tomorrow.
So tell me, what do you want to be?
you turn into songs instead; songs that he said were his favorite
I don’t know how long it took; to wear out into this massive stranger
Emaciated to translucency in the mirrors she avoids
Unbalancing upon the dunes of exotic palms
And freshly baked butter cakes that have grown upon her skin.
It could have been Paris. But her perfect flair in setting her lashes
– that I have never learnt. But always wanted to.
The cheekbones like a hike through a canyon; shining and
bright red stains on her Marlboro.
She loves it. And whenever I see a mirror I don’t really look.
Seems like she is trying her best. To pick a fight with herself.
And you are this, instead of other things
So I think you should be
Aesthetics and Romance. From a gone childhood
Where I am stuck in the pages of the coming and going
Of Darcy and Pip; you should be cold, but you are warm
I write but you are not dark enough
She has been tired but never tired enough
So be the cheeky cheeks and the unformed upper lips
The gap between my teeth – the prejudices I ran away from
Because the thought is already here
Nothing to be done, all pictures take their time
So you be the reminder
On the day I bring home the canyons and coconut trees
That the hike was all back and forth
The earthly with the Paris dreams; that the hike
started out with such a thought as this.




Querida

You and I
were born to be lovers.
Lying together in a corner of this whispering room.
Fitting cold and perfect, like a stack of steel cups piled together.
I watch you in the mirror, your curves, and your eyes
In their lone and fright as you look back at me.
Querida, my thoughts are primitive in their affectation.
Then, from their neglected heap, which sentence shall I pull out first
- which lover’s endearment?
As far as I can see
down the winding, dusty path
That has brought us up to here
I can see you
Forever beautiful
Every moment until now only in the quest of loving people.
They were wrong who said I was only you and you were only me
For I was only an infinitely existing number inside your head
Where every identity and possibility existed equally within me
They too were quite off the mark who said
You were the clay brought for me, lying in the sculptor’s hut
But Querida, the earth will bear only sequoias from their seeds.
Maybe, the day I walked into the carnival crowd
And saw you looking like a bottomless sea
I did not know, but I held onto you
Now I will walk towards the mirror, see you one glance better, and say
“You need not traverse the stretch of each day anymore,
Searching in the nooks and shadows of the world
I, my love, will keep you happy.”
You shall not be deserted by yourself.
Against genocides and timelines, and against each other
Here I am, looking at you, knowing we are alive.
“Winter twilights are quick; let us go
Take a walk naked together through the city
Lights, noise, and the shore of a skyline
Let us hear together of the mysterious vast longing inside us
Let us discover from our pristine affliction
The rise of brimming joy.”




Seventeen

August is passing by
It is raining hard outside
It's well past midnight; I'm starting at equations I'll never understand.
This was supposed to be a love song
but here I am, thinking of things
that a love song wouldn't have.
And "I could go/ outside/ in a linen shirt" with Maroon 5
Or Post Malone; on my Spotify - that's how the girls I like in the movies do.
But I'm not a girl from the movies - every time you looked at me
I wondered what you could see - watched you think things you'll never say.
It's sad though that this is how we
will spend our seventeen
in other people's arms.

Somewhat along the lines of “I would have been there
every day/ I would've waited lifetimes long"
For I keep thinking in the end we would, no matter how far
So all this going back and forth is only going to add up
to the seventeen of the years before
That is making us both different levels of old
This makes no sense to me.
And they say, we are scared of getting old.
And I say you are the reason. That I'm thinking

of the first time ever – when I felt I was sixteen, the right kind
You held me like I was a woman - with the summer sun,
rooftop, on my back, like caramel my left cheek
(My Amazon- Parakeets-Philippines dreams)
browning my eyelashes and you didn't know what to do with it.
We made it like that
Signs of another sixteen replacing us
with newer app updates and stronger east coast cyclones
- microsigns I'd only read of, before.

And I know ocean levels will rise, satellites maybe collide,
all in our living age - you are the reason
I was unsuspecting, but I now know why
We should have been together on the days of saying the final goodbyes
We don't listen to old radio songs
You and I - if I could turn back the clock these
are just the things I wouldn't say.
It is raining pellets - a hailstorm brewing
End of July – August is receding.
My lyrics from like 2022
will make me stroll homeless in an unknown Paris in afternoons
Will these be the words, in my 60s, these old fashioned words
“demons in my mind/ you make me feel so high" the classics we'll compel
the kids to focus on
They don't make them like that anymore, the radios
But I don't think I can give up on you know
These smartphones that we hold you
will keep playing me on and on.
Like 2022? " Why did you ask me to go/
I know it wasn't fun anymore/ I told you I'd believe
everything you said/ I could've fought you demons instead/
Rescued you from the fires in your head/
Even though I hurt I’d never have left/ and
In the end I would have stayed."
Having looked lifetimes askance
for you.
I'd always be seventeen for you.

Running – out – of – clubs – to – drink – at – rooftops for you
Slow – dancing – in – a – white – lily – dress for you
Putting up cryptic Instagram stories for you
A little less seventeen tomorrow, you and I
Now I'm wondering if you have noticed
Would you understand? Later? Or will you
spend forever denying and will that change
who we could have been?
When we meet on Monday, I'll laugh and say
"They should keep physics classes at nights always
So we can look up at the stars and see
How it has been, all these billion ages"
Say that and laugh.




The Young Adventurer

Morning coffee. Pink wallpapers. Rainy evenings.
Patterns of sunrays on the wall. The bells of the wind charmer – gentle sounds -
occasional cuckoos – add margarita.
Black matte nails – the Honor club – car keys
Phones on silent – long earrings – vibrating against my pocket.
Drinks with fizz – clear blue – neon drinks –
Rainbows; colloidal sparks inside, like stars
I can watch – pop music – a loud DJ – like your eyes –
closer, closer
tropical light. Beaches with palm trees.
Black balloons. Floral dresses – trying out smiles in the public washroom.
Sunset over the Toronto coast – millions of eyes, millions
of smiles – calm, raging wind. Now calm.
Running away from office parties – hand in hand –
Ripping off my skirt – down the wide stairs, into the city –
Deserted lanes – tall buildings – the things you say – I smile
– the way you smile – the wind is strong – it makes me high
through my hair – over my face – my nose pin shines
In the night.
The promise of an adventure. Fried eggs
The smell of bread. Sliced beef. Strawberries. All on white plates.
That your eyes made. My hair so brown in the sun.
A crescent moon – night after night
you have not seen, you will not see
puppies – drunk couples – a drizzle – a homeless man offering me booze
As I raise my hand and dance on the streets.
Thrilling beautiful breathtaking wild
But what we said was never enough
Into the water, under the surface – the feeling as I dive
The beating of waves, the numbed cacophony – the weight
On my feet. Gone. The collision of the universe into itself
– all the things I wondered at. Through my childhood years.
When we kissed, when we fought. Sawed wood – silver watches – all words
Fall flat. They cannot – so I smile – a little crazy –
A little gone, so they think
We only laugh and cheer and sing.
From my window – empty, dark spaces – stars and the sky
Quiet, the ghosts too solemn to joke around with – scents, memories –
All the girls are here right now. All of us awake, but sleepy. The bags are packed.
– around the fire, with fresh beer being recirculated – words fall flat. For one another.
The black dress hugs my waist – the dewy morning – it feels like the touch
of someone in love; closed eyes – mysterious clouds over a foreign city – old buildings
Flashing images of broken moon paintings upon my bent back
I have lived through history in my childhood years.




Unicorn

To hear “Honey, I am glad it’s you.”
Quick boisterous heals, phones buzz on silent – how to know?
How can these strangers and when both have gone ahead
What to comprehend of the little girl who stands by the rack
Holding a unicorn at her neck and palms over her leaking eyes.
“Mine”
Little girl not young enough anymore.
How hurtful under those commiserations
Millions of them and none would stop.
Efficacy is in allurement; grey clouds form – why not me yet them?
When their mothers would bring home in evenings gifts they’d talk of
Now she cannot anymore stand up and say “hey, they bought me a unicorn.”
To say “this hurts” to say do not.
Who will stop? On saying ‘love me enough’
None can be made to turn back for a second hug.
Still, a pretty pink unicorn.
Even when at night her back muscles in fright
Ache for an embrace – too proud to call their name
To say please. The pink feels good. They have gone ahead.
So helpless to that cocksure façade of the eyes that say “no”
Not any benediction; but friend Kathy, has always been, a miracle to her people.
Hasn’t she always been the right kind of old
To be familiar to the relief in their voice;
He doesn’t have courage at the time of bed
To keep measuring out his words, in little cups
For the girl who is their own.

Lovely clouds from morning, a tiny thought
Like a flame blinking itself awake
To meet in time, a discrepancy of providence
All the hanging bells will fall; all the paths
Lead up to right there
The tick of the clock will freeze for now
Her weight will feel her own again
To look at someone’s eyes and be told “Of all
the people who could have been mine
I am glad it’s you.”




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