The only people who call it ‘Cali’ are from someplace else
by Alexis Rhone Fancher
I want to pinpoint the moment it all went south.
1. My sister blames her ex’s bad genes.
Sometimes she blames the media.
2. When Anna was 12 we sat in the dark in Van Nuys,
watched Thelma & Louise self-ignite.
Brad Pitt’s the perfect man,
my niece said more than once.
Headstrong, even then.
3. We only went to that church for a year, my sister cried,
after Anna’s abuse was laid bare.
The reverend looked like a young Brad Pitt,
introduced by the Pentecostal neighbor
as a godly man, but which god?
The reverend was far too beautiful;
Anna, such easy prey.
4. Futile to press charges, my sister said,
doubting the testimony of her muddled girl, the publicity.
5. My sister moved everyone to Georgia.
No one told her how cold it got in the South.
She could not know Anna would self-destruct,
grow dizzy in rehab’s revolving door;
the reverend’s defilement a living thing.
6. The last time I saw Anna,
she was wearing a T-shirt with the Golden State
stretched like an open wound across her length,
screaming CALI in lurid yellow.
* * * * *
"The only people who call it ‘Cali’ are from someplace else" was first published in Blood Orange Review (Dec. 2017) and is part of Alexis Rhone Fancher's poetry collection The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)
L.A poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East,
Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, Plume, Diode, Wide Awake:
Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s the author of five published poetry collections, most
recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash
Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, publishes in 2020 from New York Quarterly. Her
photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel,
Heyday and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry
editor of Cultural Weekly. www.