Brian Oliu

XII Heartbreak, Or, How I Felt When Shawn Michaels Threw His Best Friend Through A Window

The story of heartbreak does not start here, but it could: a smile from a man who lost his face and gained a sense of faith in the breaking of occipital bone instead of the lowering of ears, feet skipping off the water and into cartilage: a hundred plates, rumored, a good round number in a world of hyperbole, but you could touch the screws if you wanted to—the zygomatic shimmering like elephants armor, like a barber’s clippers. The story of heartbreak is an odd one, as it always starts with the other: of midnights dropped from monikers because there should be no darkness here—all the world neon, all the world hot pink and mantis and loud. Here are the accidents, in order: fingers in chests, bravado, the third to last bourbon, the last night of what we are left with—and what we are left with is this: a false embrace and a broken window—the other, heartbroken, the other, down window, while heartbreak is decreed baron of highfall, of leather, of sweat and smirk.

We should have known: there are no treaties here in this universe—everything is intentional, when feelings go sour there is no stopping the tartness: the acid building up on tongues and in our blood which trickles from our forehead in a jagged pattern, the result of false glass and real sharpness (you know about the razor blades in the wristbands, don’t you), that heartbreak has no time for weakness—for closed fists in parking lots instead of open fists in the open. When your arm gets raised, you are champion, you are joy: yet you are seconds away from a forearm to the neck—something you’ve felt before: someone’s skin under your chin for a brief moment—something to dust off, something to scramble up from like you’ve been startled awake and need to move in something other than circles. Something like that, yes. Some things shock, and you are shocked, you are slumped, you are dead weight, you are dead lifted, you are out on the grey, you have been replaced by something sensational. Here, we do not talk. Here, we pull, here, we kick with theatrics as if we are creating a song other than the sound of self on other—this is supposed to be sexy, this is supposed to be violent, there are supposed to be fireworks cascading: left to right, right to left like the most beautiful fountain you’ve ever seen—fountains with theatrics, fire with dazzle.

Here, we must suspend belief (again, you know this): we must believe that these are not friends we hold dear, these are not lovers of crosses, that there are no apologies for stiff slaps and hatred spills into hatchbacks and airplanes—that we want families to fall off bridges and we have no concern; that when people leave they will not be missed, that they have left at our hand, that we are made of iron, that we dance on the air. That we are here to break hearts, to injure with teardrops, to create music with bruises. I never wanted any of this—I never wanted to be you: slick, small. My legs cannot kick high enough, I have broken no hearts, I cannot descend from the ceiling with a quickness to arrive at your door. My legs are not stretched. My back is strong. I cannot imagine the crush. I cannot imagine marrying a whisper. To pray as pyrotechnics surrounded my mouth. I know that this loss would be beautiful. I know that I could live a life as fluid as snakes, that the vertebrae will slither and pop, that all of this deserves to be revisited some day, that there is earnestness and no tricks: that loss is loss: that if we could pull someone else in front of the mirror before it breaks, we would, in a heartbeat.


Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey & currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His collection of Tuscaloosa Missed Connections, So You Know It’s Me, was released in 2011 by Tiny Hardcore Press. His series of lyric essays about video game boss battles, Level End, was released in 2012 by Origami Zoo Press.