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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Richelle Lee Slota: Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction

93_ym_roadtoextinction_bholtzman.jpg
Art by Bernice Holtzman 2022

Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction

 

by Richelle Lee Slota

 

 

1

I have this condition called

Life killing me.

 

Botched self-repairs,

All hammer no nail,

 

Hard work damned

On the road to extinction.

 

2

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.

 

3

I have this condition called

Life killing me.

 

Botched self-repairs

All hammer no nail

 

Hard work damned

On the road to extinction.

 

 

 

Richelle Slota (formerly Richard) grew up, a transgender girl in hiding. She endured a Marine Master Sergeant father and a rigorous Catholic school education, even briefly studying for the priesthood. She was drafted into Army in the spring of 1966. Bad timing. She writes plays, novels, nonfiction, and poetry. She has three grown children. She has a chapbook, Famous Michael, and she has published in Yellow Silk, Blue Unicorn, Silverfish ReviewQuercus, Plainswoman, DEROS, Blue Buildings, and Abraxas. Samisdat Press published her chapbook Famous Michael.


Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022