Yellow Mama Archives II

Richelle Lee Slota

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
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Barker, Tom
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Bartlett, Daniel C.
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Bayly, Karen
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Fortier, M. L.
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Slota, Richelle Lee
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Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction


by Richelle Lee Slota




I have this condition called

Life killing me.


Botched self-repairs,

All hammer no nail,


Hard work damned

On the road to extinction.



Doctors accuse me of my age,

Patch the cracked foundation,


Unpack the attic brain,

Prop up the collapsed floors, walls,


Probe the corroded plumbing,

Jolt the diesel generator’s ventricular tachycardia.


“How fast can you get here?”

I stare at the doctor’s voice on the phone:


Stare at the IV, stare at the chatty nurse shaving

My groin hair, stare at the surgeon saying,


“We’re gonna put a Ferrari in your chest.”

My gurney descends into the cold


Operating room, to a Propofol cocktail swoon.

Lights-out, lights-on and a confused return


To Telemetry, to my odd-implanted defibrillator,

To my hard of hearing heart failure


With a bad liver roommate snoring.

He wakes, complains of enforced sobriety.


“When I die,” he proclaims, “let there be

No full bottles around.”


I wonder how many friends will drink at my wake.

How many old, old, old, old friends will drink?


Maybe 4. I can’t conceive of more.

Certainly not less. If not 4 at least 3. If not 3 at least 2.


If not 2 at least 1. I can’t conceive of less.

Oh, dear, I hope not less.


I hope not no one.

Please not no one.


I fear no one.

Maybe 2 of my 3 children, maybe.


Some ex-girlfriend might sign

The funeral guestbook, and all my vengeful ex-wives.



I have this condition called

Life killing me.


Botched self-repairs

All hammer no nail


Hard work damned

On the road to extinction.




The Lonely Planet Guide to Death


by Richelle Lee Slota



Nobody travels there

without getting there,


somewhere beyond the poisoned

air, the squalid cities,


my loving family living

amidst a million cooking fires


in the once-so-lush,

Ghanaian Rain Forest.


The last stop wasn’t Death,

only a year called Seventy.


Other passengers offer

the conundrum, Death is life.


No one has a clue,

When, where Death is,


exactly. My guidebook

has blank pages.


The only one who knows

for sure is the killer.




Some Things That I Learned in the Army:


by Richelle Slota


Children bleed. 

Politicians don’t bleed.


There are some things in my life

I should have walked away from.


My father was right about officers.

My father was wrong about women.


A go-go dancer from Memphis

taught me how to make love.


Sergeant Clark taught me how to kill.

Leftover body parts go in the incinerator.


Refrigerate the lighter ones

in the top trays, the children.




Richelle Lee Slota (formerly known as Richard) writes poetry, novels, and plays. Her poetry chapbook is Famous Michael; her novel, Stray Son. She lives in San Francisco. She serves as a Meter Keeper, teaching meter to other women in Annie Finch’s online Poetry Witch Community.

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