Tuesday 5 March 2024

Hank in Hospice by Steve Gerson, rye whiskey

Bedridden, infected by COPD, coughing spores like weed blossoms spewing seedlings,
an orchestra of atonal allergens, I'm lighting my Pall Mall Reds, unfiltered, watching the smoke tendrils weave graveside garlands as ashes sift downward in gyres of despair.

"How ya doin', Hank?" my caregiver asked. "Can I bum one of them cigarettes from ya?"  He lit his off mine, the two burning butts meeting in conflagration near the third circle of hell.

I coughed again, my phlegm orchestrating new disharmonies as wheezes crackled through my lattice-worked lungs, my face sallow, the color of parchment soaked in nicotine, the color of cheap rye whiskey, my eyes red-rimmed, looking like a miner’s pit glowing ravaged fire.

"How am I doing you ask?" taking a deep drag of tar and terror.  "I'm bedridden.  My cheeks are sunken like a truck hood, hailstorm-dented, rusting in a used car lot and some fool has put
a sign on me saying, ‘Barely Runs, Good for Scrap.’  I’m dust.  I’m sifting toward perdition, and I wish the chariot would hurry up and get here.  That answer your question?”

About the author

Steve Gerson writes poetry and flash about life's dissonance. He has published in CafeLit, Panoplyzine, Crack the Spine, Vermilion, In Parentheses, and more, plus his chapbooks Once Planed Straight, Viral and the soon to be published The 13th Floor: Step into Anxiety from Spartan Press.
Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)

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