Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Shloka Shankar


what to do with the news

I was one thing—
a powerful argument
squeezing through the cracks—the fire

of voices dying down
in the wreckage…

don’t try to stand;
                         let the world

settle into a new pattern,
holding on to patience

with both
                                    hands


Source: A remix/cut-up poem composed from select lines and phrases found between pages 7 and 27 of A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris.




god complex

you withstand magic
                          like pulling nails
                          out of a board—

a history of killing fathers in the now:
who made these people God?

stealing ideas of balance,
combing the contents looking for
a scream on the other side of the road—

all of a sudden
my brain returns to the site
of translation


Source: A remix composed from select lines and phrases found between pages 30 and 50 of A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris.




Wrong Keyhole

“There are words we say in the dark.
There are words we speak in the light.
And sometimes they’re the same words.”

— Li-Young Lee

We pruned language,
having too much time
on our hands.

I know what it feels like
to peer through the wrong keyhole,
discovering a galaxy of empty ideas.

A hole in the world
mends itself, gathering threads
and the colours between shapes.

You use a hand-held mirror
to view your melancholy in reverse,
listening for an impossible future.

The curtains long for moonlight—
a scattering of voices paves the road
to practiced predictability.

I lock the door behind me
with no one as my witness.




Frequently Asked Questions

“When the world seems uncontrollable,
focus on what you can control.” — James Clear

What is your name?
Verse.

Where are you from?
A city in the south of India that was erstwhile called Pensioner’s Paradise. We have botanical gardens, too.

How are you?
It takes me 30 seconds to dig deep and then utter “Well” as an afterthought. Unthinking, unfeeling, fleeting.

What do you do?
Everything to stay afloat. I’ll eventually learn to swim. Or until onlookers realize I’m drowning, not waving.

How old are you?
Old enough to be a mother of two. But I’m not. A mother, that is.

What are your dreams?
Write something that makes the reader come out 3% more awake to the world. Because I’m not George Saunders.

What is your philosophy?
Look for the holes, seepage. Zdzisław Beksiński’s “Meaning is meaningless” is good enough for me.



Shloka Shankar: "I am a disabled poet and visual artist of colour from Bangalore, India. I enjoy experimenting with Japanese short-forms of verse, myriad found poetry techniques, abstract and digital art, as well as visual poetry. A Best of the Net nominee and award-winning haiku poet, my poems and artwork have recently appeared in Right Hand Pointing, Otoliths, Unlost Journal, Brittle Star, FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and Art, and elsewhere. I am the Founding Editor of Sonic Boom and its imprint Yavanika Press."




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