as told to the poet by SGM
It’s 1984. A board member at the L.A. Library Association pushes me against the Xerox
machine, forces his tongue down my throat.
It’s 1977 when I watch the musical director at Lincoln Center jack off under his desk. Over dirty martinis his assistant confides it’s her job to wipe up the semen splatter each night before she goes home.
It’s 1985. I’m raising money for medical research when Dr. Abdul R.H. greets me at the Saudi embassy. When my shoe catches the hem of my dress, exposing my breasts, he claps.
It’s 1978. The Brooklyn Academy of Music. Six of us girls lunch at my boss’s flat in the Village. Before dessert he leans back, unzips his fly.
It’s 1988. My boss, notorious ladies’ man James ‘Jimmy’ R., president of Cal State L.A., propositions me, my sister, and every woman under the age of thirty. Afraid of retribution, no one reports him.
It’s 1971. Six of us cheerleaders at Blair High watch a man in the stands masturbate to our practice routines. I’ve never seen a penis, up close, erect. What ‘cha lookin’ at? he smirks.
It’s 1985. Board member David M. asks me out in front of the entire board. His masculinity’s at stake.
It’s 1986. Dr. Abdul R. H. invites me to discuss the research budget at his L.A. hotel. His suite is filled with roses. He’s naked under the robe.
It’s 1972. Dr. Lusk, university physician, palpates my breasts as part of a sore throat exam. You have nice, German breasts, he exclaims. He prescribes a spanking, lozenges.
It’s 1973. Danny hits me in the face for calling him a male chauvinist pig. Later, he holds me outside of a moving car until I agree to fuck him.
It’s 1978. I tell the president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music we’re all resigning as a group.
Who is“we”? he asks. I realize I’m on my own.
When the former football star and his entourage leave a $1tip for me on the table,
I run after him shouting, Mr. Olsen! Merlin Olsen! You forgot your fucking dollar!
Phone sex proves far more lucrative, but isolating. My neighborhood turns dangerous.
The landlord bars the windows.
I consider rescuing a pit bull, but let my ex move in instead, sleep on my couch.
He brings chef’s knives, a sour dough starter, and his Glock 17.
Does phone sex with strangers turn you on? he soon asks,
but not in a good way.
Everything sets him off: murmurs, screams - pitched beyond normal hearing.
Tamales! Tamales! the street vendor shouts every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
The next time I want dinner made in someone’s bathtub, my ex says, I’ll let you know.
He teaches me to grill chicken, lamb chops, beef kabobs. The Croatian butcher
on 25th St. becomes his best friend.
Sometimes my ex comes home with blood on his shirt.
How rough do you want it today, baby? I say into the cold phone.
I now have a stable of regulars.
At the gun range, I fire an entire clip into the target’s center. My ex is impressed.
You just blow me away. It’s the nicest thing he’s said in years.
I tell him that night he can sleep in my bed, that he can fuck me,
if he can find a pulse.
Keeping Things Cold
I’ve hung on to what’s left over -
what you touched, what fed you,
taken stock of the refrigerator’s gelid interior,
sought evidence you were here.
Behind the yellow mustard,
and a half-squeezed tube of disappointment,
that Tiger Sauce you loved.
Best Before: Sept. 2007.
Some things I needed to keep.
Today, in the mail, an invitation.
Your Amy is getting married in the fall.
You’ll be gone eleven years.
Who invites the dead fiancé’s mother to her wedding?
She must have weighed the pros and cons as I do,
afraid I’ll put a damper on the day for those who knew you,
and burden those who ask: And how do you know the bride?
Afraid she’ll hurt if I don’t show.
Afraid she’ll hurt if I do.
I search online for the perfect gift,
compose my best excuse.
Tonight, I’ll make French onion soup (your favorite),
globules of butterfat dancing on its surface,
like I would have danced at your wedding.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Tinderbox, Nashville Review, HOBART, and elsewhere. She’s the author of four poetry collections; How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018), the twisted tale of her first, doomed marriage. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.