Those Paper Fighters march

off the page, their

heels caught on margins

as they pull pin

blue lines up behind

them, shaking off “e”s

and brushing “o”s from

their hair at what

we see as soul.

They are the color

of books, washed out

but filled with … character.

Good? Bad? As long

as they don’t kill

the dog, I’m fine.

Cats, go ahead, I’ll

hand them the hammer.

But would they take

it? Goes back to

good or bad don’t

it? Here those characters

stand. Fast in my

mind, driving their ’67

Chevrolet Impala and mounting

the mountain of Mordor.

I say you live

in my mind and

I in yours, so,

do you consider yourself

real? Let the flesh

paper crawl from the

spine and live. Turn

to those Paper Fighters

we love so much.

The core of our

brain nuggets are searching

for their past, their

history, their morals — or

their lack thereof. Each

of them is all of them.

They are legion. Hear

them roar. Hear them

rise and take home

in our mind. So

much for imaginary. Just

as imaginary as great

great great grandma, dead

since before World War

Two and the rise

of the Twilight empire.

The dead thrive in

the spot behind our

eyes, the place that

holds the meaning of

“hot dogs” and that

roller coaster ride from

our first decade. As

long as we consider

our buried comrades part

of reality, part of

that space, the reality

of character is ever

living. What makes them

different? What makes character

different from character? Is

it that they’re buried

in words and not

worm-shit and puke

from the dinosaur era?

Both disintegrate with age.

Both have gooey expiration

dates that make them

incomprehensible and dumb. Those

Dinos are laughing in

their worm-shit graves

at our souls, sitting

back with peppermint patties

and popped corn (hold

the butter) as we

grapple over the meaning

of character, of soul.

Katelyn Baker studies English and creative writing at the College of New Jersey. She is a dog trainer at Petsmart and a part of Attitudes in Reverse, an organization founded by her family that uses dogs to help educate youth about good mental health.

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