For Lonnie

For Lonnie
Holly Walrath

Your brother’s ghost smells like wet summer flowers
and his trademark stoicism is increasingly uncanny
like his sense of direction when he finds you in elevators,

When you tell him to open up he grunts
and says, “There’s nothing to fucking steal here,
no one to fuck, and I can’t get any

He could, but his hand passes right through them.
You try to explain the incantation of corporal being,
but he tells you to sod off. Your brother’s not

You notice your brother’s ghost’s hands still shake
and wonder if he took the accident with him.
He says, “I died, I didn’t forget

You say you remember waking up and missing
him. You remember the grit of the bike hitting
pavement and his leather jacket ripping in two
like it happened to you. Like you were the

He says that was a lie. “I just liked to tell
stories, especially ones that made me look cool,
like the badass I thought I was back then.
I wish I’d told you the truth, how much it

You clean out his old black trunk while he
watches, throwing out tentacle porn that makes
him laugh, and age-worn letters from a woman
named Lonnie. He won’t tell you who she

You tell him his daughter starts second grade
soon. He says nothing, but reaches for the letters
even though he knows he can’t touch them,
sense memory, he leans over and smells

“You once asked me who she was,”
he remembers, staring at the letters.
You laugh, she was on all his save files
like an alter-ego. “Who was she?” You

But he goes all quiet. His ghost eyes roll
up in his head, white-on-white-on-white,
and he runs his shaking hands over his scars,
looks up like he’s going to wish on a

You want to ask him if he’s cold. You feel
bad for him, even after all the times your
brother locked you in the closet or
drowned your Barbies in the lake. You
wonder what it would feel like to hug
him. You’ve never hugged him in real


Holly Walrath is an author, freelance editor, and the Associate Director of Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Pulp Literature, Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Literary Orphans, among others. Holly currently resides in Seabrook, Texas. Find her online @hollylynwalrath or