I go then you go then I wait. Little is known about anything except the ancestry that exists only in back story, in rumors spit forth in white text by old men who look the same—they always look the same. The knights, they look the same as well, but their eyes are kinder now than they were before—gray lines on fat faces looking east, west, instead of south, always south. Once we are through with everything something will be revealed other than my name, shortened by restraints in characters and character, a name rendered obsolete. I go and then you go then I go then you run. At the end of things I am asked a question which I answer incorrectly and I am killed. The colors change when I am about to die and they change when I am dead. You talk to me about leaves. You talk to me about how beautiful it is when they die. You send me a letter in the mail with dead leaves and you ask me if I miss the colors and I say yes and this is all that I say. You say that you have been waiting a long time for this time to arrive and for me to arrive. I can rule half the world, you say and I say yes. You tell me about death as quickly as possible and tell me that my deeds to date will not be lost in the shuffle of what should be a simple algorithm, that there is nothing between us but admiration and water that cannot be marked by a cartographer’s hand—hic sunt dracones—hic sunt leones; in these places elephants are born, in these places scorpions are born, here, dog-headed beings are born, and I have seen these monsters appear out of air like November, and I have moved from one square to another to see these things—no movements diagonal, all movements like the sign of the cross, eliminated here, and I have been asked for a command. Here, lions abound. Here, terra pericolosa. Here, I will walk, accosted by things I must kill, things I must gather to acquire the experience to say the words to sleep, to say the words to hurt, to say the words to hurt more. Your ears burn when you are talked about and when you are poisoned. Fortune smiles upon me and I say yes. You tell me that my journey is over. You tell me that I must take now a long, long, rest and the colors change and the trees do not move. The water does not move. It was kind of you to save everything that I have done before you put an end to everything; to place all that I have learned in boxes and on non-volatile storage—a photograph, some text. In the past, I would sleep at the church. In the past, I would sleep at the inn. I would sleep in the castle where the king stood. I will sleep here. I will not wake up until I leave this world and reset everything with fingers, with bones on top of bones like lighthouses, like whatever is left before this idea of permanent death, this foreign concept of nothing left. I return as if nothing has ever happened and you will ask the same questions, about the leaves and what is left of this place, what remains on the ground. I built a bridge to get here. Someone built a bridge to get here. I say no and you go then I go then you heal then I wait. I go then you go and I run but cannot and you go and I go and then you go then I heal then you go. This is how it works now. You are indefinite—you are a lord, a keeper of bread. You are never the lord, the keeper of bread, the keeper of all things, the end the end an end. You are defeated and you are a dragon and you are here and I am here. I heal and you go and I heal and you go and I heal more and you go. I have done well in defeating. All shadows are banished, peace is restored, and I am carrying you, somehow through the swamp, through the mountains. There is nothing here but you, here be you. The king offers me the crown and I have no choice in the matter. I speak in words. I will leave but you know the word ‘stairs.’ You ask if you can travel as my companion. No. But you must. You ask if you can travel as my companion. No. But you must. You ask if you can travel as my companion. Yes. You are happy. The knights’ swords turn to trumpets and a song is played. This will inspire a ballet once we are through with everything; a child in red shoes will run across a stage and bow and we will clap. You are wearing makeup and you are beautiful. Once we are through with everything I will pick pieces of metal, keeping your hair in place, from your scalp like ashes, like scales, like leaves, and I will set them on a table. You cannot sleep with your hair like this; you will be stabbed in your sleep.
Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey & currently lives & teaches in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the author of two collections: So You Know It’s Me, (Tiny Hardcore Press) & Level End, (Origami Zoo Press). Dragon Warrior is from Leave Luck to Heaven, a forthcoming full length collection in 2014.