Alexis Rhone Fancher (Western Voices 2022)

Bio: Alexis Rhone Fancher has authored seven collections, including The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press) and Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press). EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly, dropped in March, 2021. She’s published in Best American Poetry, Slipstream, Plume, SWWIM, Nasty Women Poets, Cleaver, Diode, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. She has a BA in Theatre from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Daily. She and her husband live and frolic in Los Angeles, CA. Find her at www.alexisrhonefancher.com

 

RED

Wear that red dress your aunt Helen and cousin Lisa gave you, my mom says when I can’t decide what to wear for my school photo. The dress, blood red with white-cuffed, cap sleeves, and a high white collar and jet buttons that catch the light, just for show. There’s a tiny spot on the collar - maybe the dress had been marked down? Barely noticeable. Anyway, red’s a good color on me, with my dirty blonde hair and pale skin. Everybody says so. I am almost sixteen. Pure, my dad often says, pride and hope in his voice. As pure as driven snow. Pure, but not innocent, I think, remembering red-flushed afternoons, deep in exploration. I brush my hair until it shines. Mom daubes Revlon’s Fire & Ice on my lips. Pinches my cheeks so the red rises. The photo is to be b&w, but in my head I can’t divest the color from the dress. Full-skirted, a starched petticoat beneath, I turn heads as I walk to chemistry. Nice dress, Darcy, one of the cool girls, says. Our lockers are next to each other’s. Thanks. Red’s my color, I say. I’m surrounded by popular girls, dressed in chic black, fawning over me. It must be the dress! They’re following Darcy’s lead. Like I could be one of them, the chosen ones. Shauna plays with my hair, braiding it behind me. Marybeth straightens my collar. You should join us today for lunch, she says. I glow. Swept away in a girlish crush, I daydream about her soft black skin, budding breasts, baby bottle nipples poking through her blouse.

Then: Hey! Cousin Lisa calls out as we walk past the music room. She’s sitting at the piano, practicing for her next solo recital. Lisa was going places, my mother said. A prodigy. Her concert future assured. Hey! She shouts again. Lisa, determined, rushes up to the cadre of girls around me. Girls who wouldn’t give her the time of day. What could she possibly have to say? She’s a year ahead of me. Usually she rushes past, ignores me like I’m social poison. But not today. That’s my old dress! Lisa blurts out. Blindsides me. No, it’s not! I say. You’re lying! I say. I should have come back with some smart retort, like Sure looks better on me than it ever did on you! But it’s too late. The cool girls disperse like a flock of ravens in their chill, black hipness. Lisa smiles, licks her lips, as if she’s come across fresh kill. I get it. She’s angry, betrayed. That day in her bedroom, aunt Helen busy in the kitchen, when we hid between twin beds, and played doctor, our clothes discarded, my fingers exploring Lisa’s pussy, her face blood red, her huge breasts a magnet, my lips buried between them.

***

 

When The Famous Poet Asks Me To Write A Blurb For His New & Selected

I cannot say no.

It’s just under 300 pages, he says,

hardcover,

my worshipful words

to be featured on the back.

 

I ask if I might spill our

hot nights in San Bruno,

or his misadventures with

that taxi dancer in Cancun.

Better not, he laughs.

 

When I ask

how soon he needs it,

he says, in about a week.

 

When I ask for a pdf or a word doc,

he scoffs. Just write the blurb, honey,

he says over the phone.

You know my work. Make it nice.

***


Hung

The heart wants what it wants.” — Woody Allen

 

I.

So not funny,” I tell her.

“No joke,” she says, shedding crocodile tears.

The chihuahua hanged himself with a curtain.

 

II.

Right,I say. “In a dream!” “No.She shook her head.

Pepé made a hole in the fabric and caught his little neck.

The harder he struggled, the tighter the noose.”

 

III.

Pepé had been bad news from the start:

He needed insulin shots daily, peed on the carpet,

shed all over my black pants.

 

IV.

To me, she was getting off easy.

I thought of asking her to get a black dog next,

or a shorthaired version.

 

V.

In my world a dog is a dog.

But not for her.

She would not be assuaged.

 

VI

When I caught her looking at puppies

for sale, I figured she was over the worst of it,

and I was right.

 

VII.

I didnt want to ask, but I wondered about the curtains.

I shouldnt have. The next time she invited me over,

they were gone, replaced by vertical blinds.

 

VIII.

Now let that little fu**er try to kill himself,she smiled.

Just let him try!She put him on a short leash,

named him Pepé Junior.

***

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