“If you can’t be free, be a mystery.” – Rita Dove, ‘Canary.’
She’s a singed torch song, a broken chord, the slip-shadow between superstar and the door. She’s that long stretch of longing riding shotgun from nowhere to L.A., a bottle of Jack Daniels snug between her thighs, always some fresh loser at the wheel. She’s the Zippo in your darkness, a glimmer of goddess in your god-forsaken life, her voice a rasp, a whisky-tinged caress. She gets you, and you know the words to all her songs, follow her from dive bar to third-rate club clapping too loudly, making sure she makes it home. She’s as luckless in love as you are, star-crossed, the pair of you, (in your dreams). If only we could choose who we love! Tonight the bartender pours your obsession one on the house, dims the lights in the half-empty room as she walks on stage, defenseless, but for that 0018 rosewood Martin she cradles in her lap like a child. If you ask nicely, she’ll end with the song you request night after night, about the perils of unrequited love. You’ll blurt out your worship into her deaf ear, while her fingers strum your forearm and her nails break your skin. Give the lady whatever she wants, you’ll tell the barkeep. Like that’s even possible.
First published in The San Pedro River Review.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Plume, Rattle, Diode, Rust & Moth, Nashville Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems,(2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (2017). A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.
Painting, Still Life with Guitar, by Juan Gris.