A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
It’s the last time, I swear, except this time I mean it. The last time I mourn Kate so hard I don’t eat, unless you consider alcohol a meal. The last time I drive drunk the five miles to Chuck’s house, at midnight, despondent, disheveled, swigging Stoli, again, pounding on the door until he lets me in. I’m not here for small talk, I tell him. I’m here to dance away the blues. I kick off my shoes, unbutton my blouse, but Chuck’s uncertain. You don’t have to trust me, I say, passing him the bottle. When he’s drunk enough, I turn off the TV, tell Chuck to put on something slow. I want him to remember he loved me once. He puts James Brown on the stereo. Please Please Please. Chuck grinds himself against me, like we’re still a couple. He pleased me, alright, made me real happy for a month or two; I made him a cliché; fucked his best friend in his galley kitchen. And still, he let me stay.
Tonight we’re both shit-faced, slow. Chuck lights a joint. Shows me a photo of Mai Ling, his latest, now that Kate’s moved to Santa Fe, abandoned us both. He’d asked her to marry him the week before she left. Stupid fuck. One last time, I want to wallow in our shared loss, tell each other Kate stories till dawn, finally admit that attempted seduction at La Fonda Hotel in Puerto Nuevo, me feeding Kate lobster dipped in melted butter, while she called Chuck each night, feeding him lies. But Chuck’s moved on. He’s full of this new flame he wants me to meet, how she’s is delicate, with a troubled past, raised in China, to be a concubine. As usual, I cut to the chase. Is she better in the sack than Kate? Chuck shakes his head. A sore spot. He thinks I stole Kate from him.
The clock in Chuck’s kitchen says 4 a.m., and my high is wearing thin. I’ve had it with all the mourning crap. Like Chuck, I want to move on. So when he asks if I still love her, I tell him I never did. And when he says, Of all the women in L.A., why Kate? I tell him how I can’t help myself. How I found pleasure in his pain. And when I tell him Kate’s the only woman in Hollywood I haven’t slept with, he laughs in my face. Look, I tell him, she blew us both off. I can tell I’ve hit a nerve.
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry collections. EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly will be published in 2021.
Text and image copyright 2020 Alexis Rhone Fancher