The Slow-Cooked Sentence

In which I channel Ricki Lee Jones who isn’t dead but far enough removed from me she may as well be

Rachael Conlin Levy

Say I am you. My body would be softly rounded and small. I will have hair that is long now, brushing against my shoulder blades and glowing moldy yellow under the stage light. I am a poet, singing of pirates and cowboys and ghosts. I am a singer, telling stories in nasally croons. Waves of whiskey will crash agains the walls of my stomach, while my lungs are wrapped in the smoke of cigarettes and weed. I will have had sex with too many boys to remember whether I’d fucked them or not. At fifteen, I will run away, hitching my way from California to Canada through Detroit. Running with hippies at fifteen, the year you now me was born.

Say I am you, today.

I stand on a small stage and smell the overpriced stew eaten by people drinking beers and waiting for me to sing of cowboys flying in the desert and hollow nights on empty highways. You watch me and slide your tongue into your glass to lick up the sugared sludge of your champagne cocktail, bored with being here already after the opening act by the white guy singing like a black guy about love that’s young and bright and already stale. How old is he anyway? And you feel achy and tired because it’s nine at night and your daughter is texting you, asking when are you coming home. Coming home. Coming home. Coming home.

I don’t want to go home and you wish you didn’t have one, so let’s run away like in 1970 when one of us was young and the other wild. Lend me your miseries, Ricki Lee Jones, but if the you-me wants to keep them tucked under a beret then at least sing me a song to which I might fall asleep.


Then this I as the short dumpy woman with her powerful sound tells her band to play as she sings and then stops, and begins again in a different key. Through the music, over the music, inside the music, she asks for more reverberation from the sound crew and tells the band to play that line of notes again and again, and still some more. Okay, now stop. Because tonight she’s listening to thoughts rising up from the darkened rodeo arena. Because tonight she’s writing poems taken from a record of yesterdays. Because tonight she’s got a story for me.

3 responses to “In which I channel Ricki Lee Jones who isn’t dead but far enough removed from me she may as well be”

  1. Larks says:

    I loved this. Really lyrical and melancholy and beautiful.

  2. Karen says:

    Just lovely Rachael!

  3. Rachael says:

    Hey there, Larks! It’s good to hear from you. Ricki Lee Jones’ concert at Jazz Alley was fabulous. Her writing is breathtaking. Check out the link to her blog.

    Karen, thank you.

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