Two Poems/ Emily O’Neill

are you in the weeds


my scalp stained blue

my muumuu / my nonsense

affectations leftover from hippie school


I’m bad / at New

England I said so / we started

with Cambridge


little brick place / manageable

navigable / no shitty job

yet just / men


asking me to disinherit

myself / in the name of their love

my scalp scratched raw & onion / stinging


my eyes while I cooked / little wife

little life I had my dad / dying held tight

in New Jersey’s cheek / chewing


tobacco until / the state spit him into ocean

my father lives in the ocean everywhere

the money he left me / my deposit


on a dirty sand / castle I rented

with a liar too much / like dad’s dead

parts ( loud / drunk threatening even asleep


that I couldn’t survive

sustained rage ) can’t build a drink

from the dregs / of this my stained blue neck


a mistake an egret bruise / of ungiving

fingers / my Irish family a castle

& banshee my sisters


real life mermaids

my brother / a lion or a bleeding hand

so why when I cry into your shoulder does


my family sound / like trash

I bake potatoes twice & they taste

like your mother is still / alive & full of salt


our inherited deaths / the distance between us & everyone

else / the angle of how I fell / into step with you

at all a rude fate / pennies bluing in a pocket


remembering my dad’s Parliaments / hidden

behind manila folders / the sherry we drank

for your mom / who I will never meet


woman I love already / too rationally

because of how close you still / hold her

& you don’t ask me to forget / my blue-edged mouth


in the morning when I’ve drowned / trying

to find my dad / I remember the mountain I stood on

fire tower where / I could see


the world’s ending—death winding

towards my father on the ground / a hawk

whose scream had vital teeth


are you in the weeds / is there only

tall grass now / do you sometimes hate what

hurt I remind you of / am I too many tickets


too few spoons / dry curaçao & orgeat

married until the whole world is Mai tai & mouth

begging less sweet less / sweet please


my tongue shrivels down my throat

thinking how many cherry / seasons I’ve missed

staring into other unkind eyes / every time I say


I’ll meet you at your house I stop / myself

from saying I’ll meet you at home

because I mean I’ll meet you / at you


I mean it isn’t weird / to buy a steak

or grind a new key / or invite me to stay

until we leave the place to someone else



if you salvage the spill


staring at pebbled yellow / glass you

stole from sideboard fragile / memorial

to the stuffed house / place you gained


a height advantage / I wear heels to trip

into you on purpose / excuse to hook

hand around pulse / scared again


of leaving lights on / climbing out of bed

into relentless Tuesday / saffron not a spice

but marigold stamen / pansies soft & edible


what will grow when / spring evens her keel

honestly / cove with no outlet / sunflower

starfish plowing over circular bones / what


might you eat / could it be spineless

is there a veal season / did we call it

to table at Coppa / scared again of service


ending before hunger / slaughter / prior to

milkman knocking / leaving behind a child / Todd

carving your name into the cabinet / have I told you


fields of plastic Hadley houses / stinking manure spring

how gin stood in for water / how I lived a kneeling

life / prayer to body stretched against season / heels sinking


into floor / ways we are preserved children / ruining fairy circles

in mushroom forage / no shutter to stop it / no skis

to step into no mountain I could learn to diamond down


does crystal break for fear of breaking / break my grip

on the glass / little misplaced then rescued wonder / I trip

in your shoulder after dinner / full to spilling / brittle / touched




IMG_4831Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Boston, MA. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and nonbinary writers and the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series. Her second collection, a falling knife has no handle, is forthcoming from YesYes in 2018. She is the author of three chapbooks and her recent work has appeared in Cutbank, Jellyfish, Redivider, Salt Hill, and Washington Square. Follow her on Twitter @tabernacleteeth.


Header Image: Creative Commons, photo by Zen Sutherland.

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s