In Memoriam I've memorized a brigade of words for you all, my chest exploding with encyclopedic knowledge of our histories. Forgive me now my silence. I've already been embalmed, mouth glued shut. Let's face it - my silence is a given. Sherry, you of all my daughters, knew my allergy to sugar, but there it was, concealed in apple sauce like a Trojan soldier you spooned me every day, me too weak for protest. Grandson Thomas, the difference between a BB gun and semi-automatic is stamped in your DNA. That crystal chandelier cost a fortune, the flying shards scarring me like a war-exposed child, and it was a family heirloom to boot. Speaking of boots, dear wife, was it truly accidental the support pair you strapped on me every day for physical therapy suddenly burst its seams causing me to fall, break my stride? Is naive on my forehead? I must rest now. Too perturbed for revenge. Before I dearly depart, I'll admit whoever picked out this sharp charcoal suit had good taste. Could've done without the Go to Hell button, though. At Fifteen I lash my dreams to secrecy, the desperate ones screaming to escape, un-consoled. Hares in the valley of asps, this is not the neighborhood for realizing parallel dreams. Streets aren't assigned to greet, mirrors deny my reflection. Pools of water, the same. Felons with their cat o' nine tails, raised to malign, whip my accent, dine as normal. Misty oak, shroud me in your gloom. I wasn't meant for this stop, scorn in abrasive throats. Return me to the sputtering station, punch a new vein, ban this town from strangers' eyes. Nervous I'm getting nervous, ghost-tickled in broken form. Truthfully, I'm already there. Sorry, doc, about your ineffective pills. Shadows behind the door make me stumble. Whispers meant for lovers find me peaked to the edge. I once programmed a synthesizer to play the tones of my inefficiencies, earned no Grammys. I'm so anxious I can't private anymore. My head gets flushed with ideas to overthrow the fishing industry as if it'll solve the problem no 100-high foot bridge can. I'd expected no less than David Bowie in this wilderness but I'll settle for Iggy Pop if he can manage the transition. Bottled spring water secretly filtered from sulfured aquifers don't soothe my tongue blistered from reading Anna Karenina to the buried. It could be worse, a measured kiss as ineffective as a dated Vegas playbook. I'm the ghost who's lost his bones, the cat dismissive of dog laws, the Spandex princess at power yoga who knows what the throbbing beats are for. What is it like to grow old and retain hope on your deathbed? A new Mercedes sitting on your lawn? I own a common mind. It reeks of disquietude. There's an iron maiden in my den, golden as the day it was conceived. I think it's time to hide. Bio from 2019: Robin Ray is the author of Wetland and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press, 2013), Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories, the novels Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven and Commoner the Vagabond, and one book of non-fiction. You Can't Sleep Here: A Clown's Guide to Surviving Homelessness. His works have appeared, or is appearing, in Red Fez, Jerry Jazz Musician, Underwood Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Spark, Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Picaroon Poetry, The Bangalore Review, The Magnolia Review, Vita Brevis, and elsewhere.