His guardian consigned him to the Memory Unit,
though he wasn’t far gone as the other no-hopers
warehoused at the place. Someone must be the healthiest
of the afflicted. Jake sees in fellow residents
the route this one’s going. Rolling. He’s a run-off risk,
libel to duck out if the CNAs blink twice. If they’re blind
to motivation. Being spoon-fed soft food ‘til the Reaper
visits Geezer Manor? Not this man’s man’s way.
Forty-some years of vetting stories for explanatory power,
for flaws with their fabrication. And how much now smudged over,
out of order? Whose iris did he almost drown in? Which sins
did he work off since commission? Certainly not all of them
before they cashiered him to this Sleepy Acres situation.
There were some bad ones. Patience isn’t on the menu
where they send you when your city doesn’t need you
like it used to, but before they pray and set a stone.
Todd Mercer won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Prize for Poetry (2016), the National Writers Series Poetry Prize (2016) and the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award (2015). His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in 100 Word Story, Flash Fiction Magazine. Fried Chicken and Coffee, The Lake, Literary Orphans, Plum Tree Tavern, Split Lip Magazine and Star 82 Review.