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SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

[Six Poems + Commentary]

by Alexis Rhone Fancher

College Roommates

I asked for it, coming
home 2am, disheveled,
reeking sex. Every 
weekend for a year.

It was my fault, 
always in his face,
those skimpy clothes,
teasing him with
my inaccessibility.
I knew he knew I was
giving it away.

I wasn’t surprised when
he sat in wait, pushed me 
up against the dresser, 
grabbed my breasts,
tore at my blouse,
ripped my skirt, shoved
himself into me, even
then, only half-hard.

I didn’t mind the rape.
It was the softness I minded,
how he couldn’t get it up
when it mattered. 
I fell for hard men 
with bad intentions.
Not men who loved me.

We never spoke of it
but his shame hung in the air,
that hangdog apology
in his eyes, the
unrequited love that 
spoiled him for
anyone else.
—Previously published in Carnival Literary Magazine (2013);
republished here by author’s permission



I wanted you small and folded 
in my pocket. Like a Swiss Army knife.
Like a blow up doll. I wanted you 
to fuck me and then disappear.

You wanted me wide open, 
surrendered. Like a vacation. 
Like a ripe nectarine. 

I wanted to use you for sex.
Isn’t that what all  
men dream of?

You wanted to fuse us to the 
bed, glue me, on my hands 
and knees, to the sheet, through
the mattress, tether me to the box 
springs, nail me through
the floor.

That day I saw you in Venice,
you walked past me 
like your cock had 
never been in my mouth.

I almost grabbed a fistful of you,
crammed you in like food.
—Previously published in FRE&D Online (2014);
republished here by author’s permission


Dos Gardenias

I need to tell you how days drag now
that you’re gone; no phone calls or Skype.

The light is never bright or warm. No one 
wants to dance. Today I emptied an old bottle 

of your pills, packed it with Hindu Kush,
drove to the beach. Lit up.

It’s legal now in California.

I play your favorite music; Buena Vista 
Social Club, Ibrahim Ferrer. 

Remember that yellow bikini you used to wear?
It made you look invincible, like a star. 

I’d wear the Che Guevara cap you brought 
from Cuba when we danced, girl on girl 
to Dos Gardenias. Our song. 

Your breasts crushing mine. 
Those signature gardenias pinned in your hair.

Now I dance alone, my screen dark. 
I will not weep. You’d hate it.

Since you died, I play Dos Gardenias
every day, and the way the palm trees sway 
breaks my heart.

You’re out there, dancing, 
aren’t you?

Your yellow bikini a beacon, if only I could find it
in the star-crossed night.
for Kate O’Donnell
—Previously published in Menacing Hedge (2014);
republished here by author’s permission


How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen

  1. My father hated him.
  2. So his best friend, J.R., picked me up. Shook my daddy’s hand at the door. Promised me back by midnight.
  3. Daddy thought I was obedient, a good girl.
  4. It was hot, even for August.
  5. J.R.’s parents were in Vegas, so he loaned us their bedroom.
    5a) They had a king-sized bed.
  6. Diana Ross and the Supremes were singing Baby Love.
  7. J.R. watched cartoons in the den.
  8. Michael’s middle finger furrowed between my thighs.
  9. I felt that familiar wetness.
  10. Except it wasn’t my finger.
  11. I remembered where I was and closed my eyes.
  12. He pulled down my panties.
  13. Pushed up my skirt.
  14. No one had put their lips down there before.
  15. No one.
  16. It felt delicious.
  17. I hoped he liked my scent.
  18. There were lilies on the nightstand.
  19. “Your hair smells so good,” he mumbled.
  20. He was holding his cock while he licked me.
  21. I had never come before.
    21a) Not like that.
  22. It was then I knew I loved him.
  23. He tasted like me.
  24. His dick grew too big for my mouth.
  25. When he entered me, it didn’t hurt.
  26. “I thought you were a virgin,” he said.
  27. I thought of the dildo that pleasured me in secret.
  28. “Horseback riding,” I said.
  29. When the rubber broke, he promised he wouldn’t come inside me.
  30. He promised.
—Previously published in How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen and Other Heart Stab Poems (Sybaritic Press, 2014); republished here by author’s permission


The Narcissist’s Confession

Before I was your wife I 
was a narcissist.
Before that I was a dyke.  

Before you I loved an artist. Big 
cock. No ambition. I wanted him 
to change. His cock shrank.  

I poured sugar in his gas tank 
to teach him a lesson.    

What civilized person  
acts like that?  

Before I was your wife I loved a  
woman. After sex
her scent lingered 
on my upper lip. 
Eau de Desperation.

But you, baby, 
smell like success, old
east-coast money,
Episcopalian bebop, those
blue eyes focused Godward when
you come.

It took me forever, 
stepping on them to get to 
you. Sometimes 
I wonder how
I managed to climb 
over all those
—Previously published in Fjords Review (2014);
republished here by author’s permission


White Flag

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.

—Previously published in H_NGM_N (2013);
republished here by author’s permission


Commentary on Six Poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher:

  • COLLEGE ROOMMATES: I knew my shy, philosophy major roommate had a crush on me, and I’m sure I used him in that thoughtless way young, pretty girls do. When I drag-assed home that night, the last thing I expected to see was D., naked and determined. I didn’t fight him. In my mixed-up head, I thought it was kind of exciting, until he couldn’t perform. I wasn’t cruel. I just took a shower and went to bed.
  • HANDY: The man in this poem stepped over the line. I wanted great sex. He wanted love. But I’d loved bad boys like him before, and it had always ended...badly. The sex was great, but when he told me he loved me, I made myself walk away. After it ended, I saw him one day on the Venice Beach boardwalk. He didn’t see me.
  • DOS GARDENIAS was written for my bestie, the painter Kate O’Donnell, who died in 2014. What comes up after a loved one dies? How can you hang on to what remains? It was the first poem I wrote for her that I felt was any good. Her husband read it at her memorial.
  • HOW I LOST MY VIRGINITY TO MICHAEL COHEN is the title poem of my latest collection (Sybaritic Press, 2014). That night is so vivid it could have been yesterday. I was almost seventeen. We’d been dancing around my virginity for months. (His, too, although I didn’t know it.) We didn’t want to do it in the backseat of his car, so we made a plan. When I wrote the poem, it seemed natural to write it as a list.
  • THE NARCISSIST’S CONFESSION: This is one of those poems that shocks people, both at readings and on the page. I mean what’s so shocking about a woman being brutally honest about her past with her husband?
  • WHITE FLAG: I’m a huge fan of Edward Hopper. His paintings, with their splendid sense of isolation, have room for whole stories inside of them. I was studying his painting Morning Sun, 1952, when the first line came to me. Suddenly, I was the woman in the painting.


SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

Alexis Rhone Fancher

is a poet and photographer based in L.A. whose work has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net Award. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen and Other Heart Stab Poems (Sybaritic Press, 2014), available on Amazon.

Her works have been published in Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Ragazine, Cactus Heart, The MacGuffin, Fjords Review, and:

Photo Stamp of L.A. Poetrix

alexis [at] lapoetrix [dot] com

Her photos are published worldwide. A total stage junkie, she is infamous for her recent Lit Crawl performance at Romantix, a NoHo sex shop, as well as for her readings all over L.A. In her other life, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury