Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In Memoriam Poem by Alexis Rhone Fancher - dedicated to Lynn Cutolo murdered on October 3, 2007

Chris Rice Cooper 

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Chris Rice Cooper’s Scripted Interview with Alexis Rhone Fancher
Enter Here “For Lynnie in the Dark”

In May of 2017 KYSO Flash Press
published Enter Here by Alexis Rhone Fancher with cover design by Clare MacQueen in collaboration with Alexis Rhone Fancher

       In this scripted interview Fancher talks about her experience of writing the poem “For Lynnie in the Dark” which is one of the many elegy poems in her poetry collection Enter Here.  

Can you go into great detail about the writing of “For Lynnie in the Dark” from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form on the page?
This poem went through over 20 edits/rewrites and 8 drafts before I was satisfied. I worked from notes written as early as 2007, and up to 2016. It was complicated. I wanted to get it right, and there was such a huge saga, surrounding Lynn’s death. I waited a long time, even to begin crafting the poem. Then there were the ongoing decisions as to what to include and what could be left out. Every time I tried to delve deeply into my feelings about Lynn’s life and death, I fell apart.  Above Left:  Alexis Rhone Fancher at a poetry reading for Enter Here on September 10, 2017. Photo attributed to Lisa Segal.

Where were you when you learned that Lynn Cutolo had been murdered?
I’d gone to lunch with a friend. When I returned, there was an urgent email on my computer, from Marilyn, Lynn’s best friend since elementary school. The subject line said: “Call Me Now! Something Terrible Has Happened To Lynnie.” My mind went crazy. I imagined a horrible car crash, an armed robbery at a gas station, a freak accident on a plane. Never in a million years did I imagine she had been murdered. It was unthinkable.  Above Right:  Home in Daper, Utah where Lynn Cutolo was murdered.  

Did you know Lynn personally?  If so can you describe your friendship with her?
Lynn was a close friend. When we met in the mid-80’s, we bonded instantly. Lynn was lively, smart, successful and accomplished. Beautiful. Stylish. Great fun. Adventurous. She had a rapier wit and was funny as hell. She held regular lunches for her many girlfriends at her beautifully-furnished condo in Playa Del Rey. She called these get togethers “Ladies Who Lunch,” and we all dressed up and wore outrageous hats. Lynn made her signature martinis, lasagna and yummy desserts. All diets were off. Good times.  Above Left:  The Beach at Playa del Rey, California.  Attributed to Mike Izzy.  Public Domain. 

Can you describe the physical form of the poem?
“For Lynnie in the Dark” is written in sixteen, 3-line stanzas, and one, stand alone line at the end. It didn’t start off that way, but resolved itself into that form. It made the most sense to me that way.

Where were you when you wrote the poem?  Can you describe the environment you inhabited when you wrote the poem?
I wrote “For Lynnie in the Dark” where I write all my poems, at my computer in my studio. (Left) I save each draft, and am able to compare them as I edit/rewrite. I began working seriously on this poem in early 2015 and finished the final draft in August of 2016.

I am a bit confused – I remember when Ted Bundy was executed that Friday in January of 1989 in Florida. (I stayed up all night that Thursday well into Friday watching the news reports.) And that Daniel murdered his wife Lynn in Draper, Utah in 2007.   I took it that in your eighth stanza the last line “He Heard Ted Bundy was imprisoned nearby” suggests Ted Bundy was living when they moved to Utah? 
Sorry that’s confusing. Dan was morbid toward the end, and Ted Bundy seemed the proper image to convey that. Perhaps it would have been clearer if the line had read, “He heard Ted Bundy had been imprisoned nearby.” Sigh. Just goes to show you a poem can always be improved. 

Enter Here has been described as literary erotic book but I liked to describe it as psychological poetry.  I especially thought the elegies to individuals both living and dead were compelling.  How would you describe Enter Here?  How would you like your readers to describe Enter Here?
The words “honest, fearless, and sensual” come to mind. I would like my readers to describe Enter Here as a book that gives them permission to speak their own truth, and to be fierce. Above all, I want people to be empowered by my poems, and to own their lives. Above Left:  Alexis Rhone Rancher at a poetry reading.  

Can you share with me some factual/ backstory about the poem?
      Nobody had all the pieces. We put it all together at the memorial. Lynn had visited me in LA a month before she died. We had a lovely time together, hanging out on the beach, catching up. Since Lynn and Dan had moved to Draper, our time together was far less frequent. We made the most of those days, just fun at first, but on that last day before she went back home, Lynn’s mood turned dark. She shared that her marriage had taken a downward turn that Dan had lost his job and had severely damaged his back, resulting in opioid addiction. “He just lays on the couch all day, watching TV and complaining,” Lynn confided. She said she still loved Dan, but was no longer in love with him. That marrying him had been a terrible mistake. She said he’d been verbally abusive but had never physically touched her. She swore to it.
Lynn shared that she was putting money into a separate account, saving up enough money to leave Dan. She was going to ask for a divorce. I asked her again if he was physically abusing her. She vehemently denied it. If Lynn had told us the truth, we would never have let her leave LA and fly back to Utah. Her friends would have kept her safe from him, if any one of us had had all the pieces.
      At the memorial, the “Ladies Who Lunch” compared notes. Lynn had shared different parts of the story with each of us. No one knew everything. I knew about the bank account and the verbal abuse. Another friend witnessed the physical abuse, said Dan had pushed Lynn down a flight of stairs. Someone else told us about the threats. Another one knew about the financial devastation Dan was wreaking. Once we put it all together, everything was crystal clear. A pathway to brutal murder. Above Right - Image attributed to Alexis Rhone Fancher 

Anything you would like to add?

I wrote “For Lynnie in the Dark” to honor Lynn. She was a shining star, gone far too soon. I miss her.  I took this photo of Lynn Cutolo on Sept. 1st, 2007. She died a little over a month later.

For Lynnie in the Dark

She married him in Vegas.
She’d already paid for the chapel.
She did it to please her dying mom.

She fingered his photo in her pocket.
He gave her his adored mom’s ruby ring.
She didn’t know what synthetic meant.

She walked down the aisle in a panic.
He didn’t tell her he’d always been an orphan.
She had forgotten her bouquet.

He liked aimless drives in the desert.
He liked how she mated his socks.
He kissed her senseless.

Their bedroom was an illusion.
He stepped into his pants like a fireman.
He was in cahoots with the Lord.

She had an Italian complexion.
She’d recenlty lost her keys.
He had exceptional footwork.

She sold her condo near the beach.
She sold her Santa Fe-style furniture.
He allowed her to take both cats.

He paid for everything on her Visa.
He moved her to a small town in Utah.
He heard Ted Bundy was imprisoned nearby.

She got knee-deep into religion .
She got her real estate license.
He got a pink slip on Friday.

He blamed it on her and the meds.
He dreamed of red meat and hawks, circling.
She made more money than God.

She danced ino his head like a migraine.
He had his second stepfather’s temper.
She called Dial-A-Prayer, then hung up.

He followed the tele-novellas.
He was headed for a cliff when the car stalled.
She put Revlon concealer on her bruises.

He fell off the couch.
She was in L.A. when it hit her.
She opened a secret bank account and drove back to Utah.

He shot her the first time in the leg.
She didn’t move.
He watched her not moving.

She remembered she forgot to feed the cats.
She curled up.
She squeezed her eyes shut.

He squeezed the trigger.
He squeezed it again.
She knew her dancing days were done.

He shot himself in the head.

     --for Lynn Cutolo, murdered on October 3, 2007.  RIP 

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