Ghosts ‘N Goblins
Brian Oliu


Here are all the mistakes I made. There is a ghost in the window. There is a ghost in the mirror. There is a ghost in the mirror, close your eyes, say his name, he said, he repeated. Here is an error: here is a string, this is the end, here’s a ship. The first mistake is that we thought it would lead us somewhere, on cemeteries and buildings and buildings in soft hard brick, churches touching the body, one hand on something other than a lance. I am nothing but a knight. I am nothing except a knight: dull as a bruised apple, like the rungs of a metal ladder, like a foot counting each error, like length of hair, like scratching nails. This story is a happy ending. This story is a happy error: an embrace without words, like a silent error. We can reduce each other to bones in a box. When we are old, we throw our screens: we will not return to the house above them, we will not be found below. We tear our bodies, we tear, we will want to start from scratch. This room is an illusion. This room is a trap.

Here are all of the mistakes I have made. There is a ghost in the window. There is a ghost in the mirror. There is a ghost in the mirror, close your eyes, say its name, say it again, say it again. Here is a mistake: here is a rope, here is the end, here is a ship. The first mistake is the fact that we believed that this would lead us somewhere—out of graveyards and buildings and into hard brick, a church, the touching of bodies, a hand on something other than a lance. I am nothing but a knight. I am nothing except a knight: dull like a bruised apple, like the rungs on a metal ladder, like a foot counting each error like lines in sand, like the length of hair, like scraping nail against nail—to smooth, to make all things even. This story is a happy end. This story is a happy mistake: to have metal break from body at the press of a finger, to have it explode off of ourselves like a firework, like an orange in the oven, like the folding of letters. Like an embrace with no words, like a silent mistake. If we could cut ourselves on the edges, we could arrange what is left of our fingers into notes—we could jump on top of gravestones like we are waiting to be divided: that we can slash at each other with branches while the dead watched and reached out to us like we are glazed over and patched together like bones in a box. When we are older we will throw our shields: we will not come home on top of them, we will not be found underneath them. We shall rip them from our bodies, we will tear, we will make want out of nothing. My fingers were too large for scissors, for knives—knuckles swollen from mistiming: a car door shut early, a mask where a heart should have been, my clothes taking me with them like a hand held through a crowd of strangers—we move as the ghosts sway. This is the beginning of a mosaic—glass, not tile, not stone, not the scraping of fur, wood making wheels on the floor. There is transparency here: we flicker as we move, our swords below our bodies to let the ghosts know that we exist—that we are ours, that we are our own. This is our first mistake: teeth along the sides of a piece of bread like a wound, like a chunk taken out of our feet and spit onto what we believe to be green—what we believe to be still. My fingers are not meant for any of this—the grooves in my thumbs are sore from over-use, blistering like heat over friction, like the division of things—the removal of self from self. My father—he lived in a house that no longer exists, a ghost of a house, a body hurt by cold, by an end. I too lived in a house that no longer exists: shutters painted green instead of blue—where my bed was, a table with flowers on it, orchids maybe, tulips never. There used to be a garden that I called mine: violets coming up through the ground like specters, like they are supposed to be here among us. I am not here to talk about dirt. I am not here to talk about scratching at the ground, the lavender by the handful, the dirt beneath my fingernails. This is a mistake—this is all a mistake. Here is a piece of paper the color of my skin: tear the shape of my face out from it—it is there waiting. Make it perfect. Make it as round as reason. Here, a darker shade for my hair: tear it into crescents, make me like the moon. Forget the ears. I have no mouth and I must tell you things: about how the picture of your arms makes me want to hold them by the wrist, to swing you like an axe, to throw you at the dead, to throw you to death. About the mistakes I have made, about the moments where I hover in the air, about how I must be able to go higher, about again, about more, more. About the loss of days and how none of this is difficult—there are my eyes, one larger than the other. About my shirt, red because that is all that is left—about choices. About choices. This room is an illusion. This room is a trap. The paper doll that is me is not me—this is something that I created: it was not grown like the tulips, I did not pull it up by the bulb to hand to you like a scepter, like a dagger. I did not raise it from the ground. This is something that you must believe—that this is not starting over. That there is no way that we can start over: you bringing a boy made out of paper to replace me, to sit me at the table and cook it rice. About how you will lay him flat in his bed and hold its jagged hand when he dreams about me again, about how I am in the garden waiting to take its place. About how we used to have a house and how the bed he is in was in a different room: a room with flowers and chairs. About how I am gone now and not coming back. About how there is nothing to worry about—about how if I could, I would make another face where my body has been: that I would be smiling like the first day of everything, about how everything so far has been about the end of the world. About how everything so far has been about those who have lost everything. About how everything was so far from those who have lost everything. That this is my mistake. That this is the return. That this is happening again.



Brian Oliu may be found here. He is originally from New Jersey and currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His work appears in Hotel Amerika, New Ohio Review, Ninth Letter, WebConjunctions, DIAGRAM, Brevity, and elsewhere. This weapon has not effect.