3 poems by Joshua Rigsby

A Tanka for Pupusas

 Pupusas are soft,
much like marbled baby’s flesh.
Round as the iris
of a love-besotted moose.
They’re a vehicle of flight.



 It was the best of and the worst of,

Gray Lady and Los Angeles

of London;

The tee you hit, the tea you thirst of,

Medieval, long forgotten, and

New Roman;


Laissez les bons ____ rouler,

and may they ever multiply.


Rivers of the World

The Tigris and the Euphrates, where Eden was planted. Crossed by Alexander, Trajan, Suleiman, George V, and Bushes XLI & XLIII.

The Nile, where baby Moses lay floating in a basket of reeds, water he made flow red with blood.

The Rubicon, where Caesar cast his die. Near the Tiber he was stabbed and Saint Paul’s head bounced three times.

The Seine, where they tossed the ashes of Joan from Arc, to be churned and dispersed, to drain her out to the sea. Javert, likewise, swept himself away.

The Thames, where Marlow sat rocking, telling us about Kurtz and the Congo. The Tower sits on its banks, where kings consigned their many wives and conspirators to die, where their heirs were likewise ruined.

In the Ganges, the dead are floated. Turtles nip their flesh.

The Nahi and the Narmada, which Ghandi crossed on his way to make salt.

In Seoul, children are taught the names of the bridges that span the Han. These bridges are new, the old ones destroyed to slow communism and refugees.

The Amazon, where pink, bottlenose dolphins sport in the murky brown. Found last by Orellana, but renamed by him anyway.

The Ohio, where Eliza jumped from frozen barge to frozen barge, hunting freedom from the hounds.

The Mississippi, where Tom and Huck made their mischief and social commentary.

The Los Angeles is drawn in the negative, a waterless river, a concrete husk. Where portions of TransformersTerminator 2: Judgment DayLast Action HeroThe Gumball RallyChinatownThem!The Core, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th DimensionIn TimeIt’s AliveL.A. StoryGreasePoint BlankRepo Man, Fear The Walking DeadThe Italian JobPoint BreakGone in 60 SecondsTo Live and Die in L.A.Blood In Blood OutCleopatra JonesBlue ThunderI Got The Hook Up and Drive were filmed.

There is a metaphor in this.



Joshua Rigsby has an MFA from the University of California, Riverside and has written for Southern California Public RadioThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Atlantic.

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