FOR THE SAD WAITRESS AT THE DINER IN BARSTOW
beyond the kitchen’s swinging door,
beyond the order wheel and the pass-through piled
high with bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy,
past the radio, tuned to 101.5-FM
All Country - All the Time,
past the truckers overwhelming the counter,
all grab-ass and longing.
in the middle of morning rush you’ll
catch her, in a wilted pink uniform,
coffee pot fused in her grip, staring over
the top of your head
you’ll follow her gaze, out the fly-specked, plate
glass windows, past the parking lot,
watch as she eyes those 16-wheelers barreling
down the highway, their mud guards
adorned with chrome silhouettes of naked women
who look nothing like her.
the cruel sun throws her inertia in her face.
this is what regret looks like.
maybe she’s searching for that hot day in August
when she first walked away from you.
there’s a choking sound
a semi makes, when it pulls off the
highway; that downshift a death rattle
she’s never gotten used to.
maybe she’s looking for a way back.
maybe she’s ready to come home.
(But for now) she’s lost herself
between the register and the door, the endless
business from table to kitchen, she’s
as much leftover as those sunny side eggs,
yolks hardening on your plate.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher, 2016 First published in The San Pedro River Review
On Edward Hopper's painting, "Morning Sun," 1952
No one paints loneliness like he does. Those half-clad women by the bed, on
the floor, hunched over, staring out the window, in profile or from behind,
always clean lines, such worshipful light. The gas station in the middle of
nowhere, estranged couples on the bright-lit porch after dark. Even the boats
sail alone. And the diners. The hatted strangers, coming on to a redhead, a
moody blonde, all of them losers, all of them desperate for a second chance.
This morning the sunlight pried open my eyes, flooded our bedroom walls. I
sat alone, in profile on our bed in a pink chemise, knees drawn up, arms
crossed over my calves, staring out the window. Desperate for you. No one
paints loneliness like Edward Hopper paints me, missing you, apologies on
my lips. Come back. Stand below my window. Watch me beg for a second
chance. Downturned mouth, teary eyes, parted knees, open thighs, that famous
shaft of Hopper light a white flag, if only you could see.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher 2013, First published in H_NGM_N
(Three Little Words) for F.B.
M has never said I love you before.
Not to me.
He cries at weddings, like a girl.
The sex is only good if we’re totally fucked up.
It blurs how wrong we are for each other.
English is not M’s native tongue. It eludes him.
Maybe he misspoke?
His prepositions hang mid-air.
He says it’s hard to think when it’s hard.
M’s white teeth nibble at my clit like a ferret.
The two front ones indent slightly;
it makes him look goofy, like a joke.
Sometimes when we have sex, M’s calico meow trips
across my back. Rakes a claw. Caterwauls.
She doesn’t want me here.
Sometimes when we have sex, I am the one in heat.
Outside, the tin roof rain suicides
on the hard-packed earth.
M is fucking me from behind, his
body melded into my ass, fingers kneading my breasts.
He’s mumbling up the courage.
I know what he’s trying to say.
I want to fuck him mute.
In the bedroom there’s this
Dennis Hopper photo of Tuesday Weld,
driving, top down, blonde hair streaming.
Circa 1968. She’s unfettered.
Why can’t he see that
I am that girl, my top down,
my hair streaming,
my consequence-less life?
M. bought the print for me but
I don’t want it.
I want nothing from him but
a silent film, a carnival.
I want him to want that, too.
I want him to shut up but
he zeros in on my ear
and says it.
First Published in Cactus Heart Magazine, 2014
Tonight I Will Dream Of Anjelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, Who Taught Me
The Rules Of The Road…
Anjelica comes on to me like a man, all slim-hipped swagger, relentless, dangling
that red, ‘57 T-Bird at me like dessert. Lemme take you for a ride, chica, she sez
after acting class. I figure what’s the harm, but Ms Angel Food gets out of hand. I
don’t count on her heart-shaped ass, or those brown nipples crammed in my mouth.
I don’t count on the Dial-O Matic four-way, power leather seats, the telescoping
steering wheel, or the frantic pleasure of her face between my thighs. I admit, I’ve
always been driven to sin. But Anjelica’s far from blameless. She rides me hard,
week after week, double clutches me into ecstasy, hipbone against hipbone, the
dulcet, lingering groan of our gears, grinding. When I confess the affair to my
boyfriend he jacks himself off in the galley kitchen, comes all over his unattainable
fantasies. He says he doesn’t consider sex between women to be cheating, and begs
me to set up a threesome. I tell him the T-Bird’s a two-seater, and watch his face fall.
I could end it, but why? All I can say is, I want her for myself. All I can say is, I’m
a die-hard romantic. Anyone I do, I do for love.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher 2015. First published in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Dec. 2015
I WANT LOUBOUTIN HEELS
I want Louboutin
heels with those trademark red soles,
I want them sexy, I want them high.
I want them slingback and peep-toed
so I can flash the purple polish
on my tootsies.
I want to wear them out of the store, just
you try and stop me.
I want to wow them on
Washington, saunter past C&O Trattoria
and Nick’s Liquor Mart, those bottles of Stoli
stacked in the window, calling my name, past the
summer-clad tourists in December, shivering,
barefoot, like LA has no winter.
In those shoes I’m hot,
stop-a-truck hot, prettiest
girl in school hot, and this
time, I know it.
Flaunt it. Hell, I own it. In those shoes I can
pick and choose, not settle for some loser.
Not drink away regrets, pound back Stoli at
Chez Jay’s, flash their scarlet bottoms when I kneel.
I’ll wear them like my own flesh,
like hooves, like sin.
I’ll keep their secrets, won’t spill
where they’ve been.
Better those shoes with their lurid soles
than you with yours.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher 2013. First published in BoySlut,
nominated for a Pushcart Prize, 2013
Now the splinter-sized dagger that jabs at my heart has
lodged itself in my aorta, I can’t worry it
anymore. I liked the pain, the
dig of remembering, the way, if I
moved the dagger just so, I could
see his face, jiggle the hilt and hear his voice
clearly, a kind of music played on my bones
and memory, complete with the hip-hop beat
of his defunct heart. Now what am I
supposed to do? I am dis-
inclined toward rehab. Prefer the steady
jab jab jab that reminds me I’m still
living. Two weeks after he died,
a friend asked if I was “over it.”
As if my son’s death was something to get
through, like the flu. Now it’s past
the five year slot. Maybe I’m okay that he isn’t anymore,
maybe not. These days,
I am an open wound. Cry easily.
Need an arm to lean on. You know what I want?
I want to ask my friend how her only daughter
is doing. And for one moment, I want her to tell me she’s
dead so I can ask my friend if she’s over it yet.
I really want to know.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher. First published in Rattle, Issue # 41, Fall, 2013
Midnight, and again I’m chasing
sleep: its fresh-linen smell and
deep sinking, but when I close my eyes I see
my son, closing his eyes. I’m afraid of that dream,
the tape looped demise as cancer claims him.
My artist friend cancels her L.A. trip. Unplugs the
internet. Reverts to source. If cancer
will not let go its grip then she will
return its embrace. Squeeze the life out of
her life. Ride it for all it’s worth.`
By the time his friends arrive at the cabin
my son is exhausted, stays behind while
the others set out on a hike. He picks up the phone.
“Mom, it’s so quiet here. The air has never
been breathed before. It’s snowing.”
I put on Mozart. A warm robe. Make a pot
of camomile tea. The view from my 8th floor
window, spectacular, the sliver moon, the stark,
neon-smeared buildings, their windows dark.
Sometimes I think I am the only one not sleeping.
My artist friend wants to draw the rain. She
wants to paint her memories, wrap the canvas
around her like a burial shroud.
Tonight, a girl in a yellow dress stands below
my window, top lit by a street lamp, her long shadow
spilling into the street. She’s waiting for someone.
I want to tell my friend I’ll miss her.
I want to tell my son I understand.
I want to tell the girl he won’t be coming.
That it’s nothing personal. He died young.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher. First published in Broadzine, 2015.
Despair arrived, disguised as
nine pounds of ashes in a
velvet bag, worried so
often between my fingers
that wear-marks now furrow
Is it wrong to sift
the remains of my dead son,
bring my ashen finger to my
forehead, make the mark of
the penitent above my eyes?
His eyes, the brown of mine,
the smooth of his skin, like mine.
Unless I look in the mirror
I can’t see him.
Better he’d arrived
as a snow globe, a small figure,
standing alone at the bottom of his
Give him a shake, and watch
his life float by.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher. First published in The MacGuffin.
when her son is dead seven years
a woman is dancing on the moon,
a barefoot adagio of lilting beams.
she didn’t know the light was so addictive.
her feet are cooking.
her arms are empty.
she thinks there is someone to feed.
a woman is dancing on a cake plate
in her kitchen
call her angel food. she skirts the frosting’s edge
skates straight to the bone-white middle.
she has a persistent memory.
she has a penchant for truth.
she has a life that is slipping away.
a woman is skating barefoot on her sorrow
her brain awash in the smell of his skin,
her arms shackled to the stars, a
pirouette of unmet promises
regret. if she blames it on herself
she can fix it.
a woman is taking her dead boy’s eyes
to the moon
she wants to show him the whole earth
before he finally gets some sleep.
a woman is sleepwalking on the moon,
stardust clinging to her heels.
she’s carrying life inside her
a luminescent, big-bellied Madonna.
she once loved a Russian poem
about a pregnant girl, chasing the moon;
but now she’s forgotten who wrote it
and how the poem ends.
she just keeps chasing the moon.
and the moon, with her big belly, complicit,
out in the darkness, lighting the way.
©Alexis Rhone Fancher. First published in Blotterature,
nominated for Best of The Net, 2015.