in the unlikely event of my survival

by Barbara Genova

i am the greatest dying actor of all time all time


man is split in two by a machete jungle setting lots of close ups – it’s me
man on the cover of fangoria head in a clamp eyes bulging mid-crunch – still me
you need someone to be dismembered in abject fear, you cast
the martyr
i did not care one bit for that name


once i called my body of work “the wheel of misfortune” and i blinked and someone made a movie with a torture device called the wheel of misfortune
my son rang me up from bangkok just to say he’d seen the dvd case
qualcuno ha rimosso la morte, would have been the proper way to spell it back home
we never spoke of such matters, it was poor form to point at other people’s shortcomings if those could not be fixed by entering the cocaine and diamond trade,
but for a minute there i did have a spring in my step i would sing
let’s spin the wheel
ah whatever, get out of here if you’re not buying anything


mike, who was my best friend at the time, he had a movie about witches
he would dive into the story
he’d tell us all about it even though there was no viable production path for black magic
he’d gather us for drinks at dawn and he’d start talking
– cool stay cool let’s hear him out maybe this time he’s onto some-
no it’s witches
a young american travels to a city of bricks and dust tunnels in search of his missing sister – mike would say it with his hands: the missing sister, title card – soon the hero discovers an underground religious movement might be involved, there’s strange knocks on the door there’s political discord, a bomb goes off, and he keeps looking over his shoulder, the left shoulder – that’s a trailer shot alright
and then he drives to the asylum that’s been turned into a prison camp only to later become a safe haven for runaway maids
and they say his sister’s waiting on the floor below she’s been waiting all along
so he steps in the pool he’s brave he’s a fool he’s swimming to the bottom
and boom, blast of white light and what does he see
an altar!
where does this come from we asked, and he said, i don’t know, i like witches
he would get quiet he’d put electric light orchestra on
his stepmother was thirty and lean and so chic
a technical drawing instructor can you imagine


i knew i was gonna get old eventually
i refused to die young when everyone else did
by which i mean, i tried
jumped in a river not the tiber with stones chained to my neck
dreamt about a heiress who had gone missing in the woods the year before
she sat me down in a green field she told me she didn’t have all day
she told me she was a witch and she was doing community college in montana
and happiness was better framed as an intermittent phenomenon —
came to after a month in a coma or so they said
this pretty plump nurse bent over to wipe cold sweat off the gurney and she whispered in my ear
nemmeno la morte la vuole
you’re so bad, not even death wants you


last i checked i was one hundred thirty nine
i moved to sedona hoping the collective grift would take care of it
did not happen
the pharaoh i’ve been called, oldest man in the business
i sell alien artifacts
i’ve got my white table cloth, my spot on the sidewalk
i sit in the shade and i wait

Barbara Genova (she/they) is the pen name of a writer who chose to start over after getting stranded in Central Europe during the first of many Covid lockdowns. She’s the author of “Dirt City”, a monthly column hosted by Bureau of Complaint. Poetry and stories written as Barbara have been published / are forthcoming at Hobart, Strange HorizonsExpat Press, Misery Tourism, 433, The Daily Drunk, Anti-Heroin Chic, scissors & spackle, surfaces.cxSledgehammer Lit, Fahmidan Journal, Hallowzine, The Bear Creek Gazette, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Roi Fainéant Press, Poetry Super Highway, Gutslut Press, the New International Voices Series at IceFloe Press and the Hecate Magazine anthology issue #2 (DECAY, winter 2021). She can be found on Twitter @CallGenova  and on Instagram @thebarbaragenova