The Argotist Online

About        Articles       Interviews        Features       Ebooks       Submissions      Links


  In Memory of Rachel Lisi 




Jeffrey Side


Rachel Lisi was a friend who died in 2010. She was talented in many areas but her passion was for photography. The following is how she described herself in 2005, when I asked her for some biographical information that I could put alongside poems by her at The Argotist Online:

I grew up enveloped in the arts. My father read my brother and I ancient stories before slumber and I heard my mother sing arias upon awakening. Music and myth are where much of my inspiration arises. The rest comes from nature and my experiential and emotional well. Writing is a resting place for me. It is also a safe place for me to dream unveiled, placate pins and needles and scream sordid secrets. I share my life with Sitka, one well-named and well-fed cat. I enjoy the works of Neil Young, Kate Bush, Leonor Fini, Edward Gorey, Michael Parkes, Emily Dickinson, John C. Gardner, Carl Theodor Dryer and Terry Gilliam who glimmer among countless others. I enjoy a good red wine, strong coffee and contagious laughter. I am so very happy to be here.

In 2010 she died, a couple of days before her 40th birthday. I had known her since 2003, though only online. However, we developed a friendship via email that lasted until her death. In 2007 she did a marvellously haunting cover photograph for my poetry ebook, Carrier of the Seed; and also two ebook cover designs for Argotist Ebooks, which she did during the last year of her life. She was working on a third cover shortly before her death.

Her website, Kundavega (sadly no longer online), included her photography and poetry. Here is part of her introduction to the site:

My name is Rachel Lisi. This small corner of cyber space allows me to share different things with you. For some time I have been following the crafts of photography and poetry finding many hills and valleys along the way. I am still trying to find the right path, but surrendering to the guidance of the day and night and every turn of my imagination. As always, I continue to evolve and learn within this circle of creating.

For many years she was an active member of the Kate Bush fan forum, Homeground, which is how I came to meet her. There is a thread there noting her passing, which can be seen here. Also, there are two Live Journal blogs she kept that are still online. One for herself and one for a small press she was planning to start. They can be found here and here. And a Facebook tribute group for her can be found here.

Over the years she had been a loyal and supportive friend to me, and I feel privileged to have known her. I will always remember her.


Some Poems by Rachel Lisi



Queens of Dark Suns

Both found on the side of something
in the grass by the concrete road
in an iced mountain grave embowed
chosen and sacrificed, severed and frozen
two princesses of murder and queens of dark suns

Named after the flower that feeds the ghost moth
naked - skin-white and petal-soft
sunlight shining where your womb once was
drained of blood and joker-faced
mama had a baby and her head popped off

Sister five hundred years away
treated to luxuries in your death
dolls, corn, red feathers and coca leaves 
you were holy and god-given - a gift to Ampato
to bring life to the children coming after

Sister five hundred years away
walking away from a hotel to another hope
another day another dollar another fuck another voyeur
maybe this one will stick on you like honey
maybe this one will find you a sacred thing - finally

Sister from earth to moon
you climbed frosted rock and kaleidoscope
into the hole covered with warm wool and cold clay
but when all is said and done, you're going elsewhere
to travel to sister's side when she is sliced open

Placed so lovingly and strategically
not one hair out of place - you were art
and this reunion of two women is a celebration
two sisters of sacrifice can only understand
this black festivity - the devil's creativity

Now your shells have been found by inquisitive men 
and a terrified woman with her child
skulls and trunks and bones - your skin and teeth
uprooted from a thirsty earth you quenched with your flesh
licking its lips where your life drained

Free now to stand behind the coroner
to stand behind the detective
to stand behind the archaeologist
to stand behind the teacher
two princesses of murder and queens of dark suns





Whispering pages in rustling attic leaves

There's a haunting here

Nothing spoken, but the breezed silence.

Granddaughter sifting through Grandma's things

And coming to an understanding

That Grandma was a woman once, a girl, an infant,

A fetus - perhaps unwanted.


Dried flowers for journal entries turned dustied mold

Like the day turns

Like the day turns

Like the day turns

Lore that could not be told within wrinkled folds

From long ago - lost comb with rusted teeth and ancient topaz,

Sketches of a now gone life before the world war

Before that indigo jazz

Before the red-washed beach

Before the bullet and bloodied razzmatazz


The ghosts waltz their way in and out of stained pages

Skirting images of sepia-ed ages

Through granddaughter's honeyed braids

Into the shades of decades

Their chill still dancing like the rain

Stepping with the weight of water

Around fire and milk and rose petal slaughter


Two were of dead lovers

(who never got over grandma, but died well in love)

Three were of aunties

(praying to Madonna, Baba Yaga, the old man above)

One of a dog

(wolfhound and found on the tracks half-dead)

One of a cat

(black and blind with a penchant for the sun-drenched bed)


I am not sleeping, but I do dream silently

Listening to the child up there sifting - looking for me

A different kind of Gold Rush

One that has remained hush-hush

One that will push us gently

Push us gently into the riches that only

Bees and the trees and the sea can understand.





Look down upon the king of cities.

Angels tickle trust daring a

Jump into the chaotic brew.

See if they catch you.


Gravity's increase.


Gaze with haze into the clouds.

Take heed of the angels' sing song laugh.

Faith has been frayed,

Keeping the holy at bay.


Gravity's decease.


Wide eyed wild world,

Still waiting for the exhale.

Dancing with the lawless divine

Spinning on the universal spine.


Gravity's release.





Secundines make

him uncomfortable

buoyed by blood

fed on and flayed

xyster-scraped bones

for her ejaculatory

not hush-hush

nor diseased

no need for vincristine

it is a tell

a reckoning

nothing fancy


tossed on a fire

where Katydids dance

to auld grimalkin's vox

and the Iroquois play Zydeco

denizened diatribes and dissonance

yellows and blues and arrows

Quetzals and Cormorants

phosphorescent feathered-fall

fat fox prays well with lugworm

a whipsawed killing

uxorial sacrificial bigarreau


when he smells the Jessamine

at the light of her moon