After the breakup, I retreat into Sappho on lunch break at my usual diner

Beneath crusty topping, the cheddar and noodles—a long blonde hair. This is no accident. It’s a call for help, and me, too morose to hear. The long, blonde waitress reads over my shoulder, waits for my credit card, plays with her split ends. She points at my book, asks, Who’s Sappho? When I tell her ‘a poet from ancient Greece’, she rolls her eyes. Me? I like noir. Ever read any Elmore Leonard? Jim Thompson? she asks. The Killer Inside Me? She attacks the crumbs on my table. I’m not sure what she wants. Is that what you’ve got? I ask her. A killer inside you? The waitress shrugs. Don’t we all? She strikes too close to home. When I don’t answer, she tries again. Maybe you should be reading something relevant, writing about, fuck, I dunno, slow death at a greasy spoon? When I look surprised, she gets in my face. I see you here, every day, same table, writing in that notebook, always alone. What? Real life’s too real for ya? Gotta retreat to ancient history? She’s got my number. The waitress picks up my plate. Jim Thompson’d tell you, women are like crockery. Chipped, she says. Disposable. Even your precious Sappho. She points at the glistening fat beading off my abandoned mac and cheese. Greece? I’ll show you ancient grease. She palms my credit card, brings it to the cashier. Who broke you? I ask, when she returns with my receipt. Incredulous, the waitress looks to see who’s listening, then leans in. The same losers who broke you.

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily,, Plume, Tinderbox, Diode, SWWIM, Nasty Women Poets, Nashville Review, decomP, Duende, and elsewhere. She’s authored five collections, most recently The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash, 2019). A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.   WEB