They come at night

When the room is still,

And the bed, unshared.

They come on waves of memory

That crash like breakers and

Wash away sleep.

There are hundreds, thousands;

They are legion.

This one's throat was cut,

That one's neck was broken.

This one burned, and

That one sizzled with electric current.

This one fell off a train.

That one plummeted from a roof.

This one was shot, and

That one was blown to bits.

They jostle each other

In the small, small space

Between waking and dreaming,

Angry, cursing, baring teeth,

Pointing to their festering wounds,

Wagging accusing fingers.

Because you see,

It was my knife that cut,

And my rope that garroted;

My lighter that flamed,

My hand at the switch.

I was the one who pushed

Or struggled,

Or stepped aside.

I pulled the trigger first,

Or hit the plunger.

But I feel no sympathy for them, or guilt.

They all deserved their fate.

They would have done the same to others

Or worse.

The only thing that stopped them

Was me standing in their path.

And so, I close my eyes to them

And turn into my pillow.

Eventually, frustrated,

They drift away.

I have no fear of ghosts.

They are all helpless, impotent now.

Just names in a file,

Stories told over drinks.

Fragments stored for a future memoir.

They can do no harm.

That doesn't mean I sleep undisturbed.

Pills or liquor sit on my bed stand

More times than I can count.

Because it's the ones that got away,

The one who are still out there,

Not yet ghosts,

Who keep me up at night.