Emily O'Neill is a proud Jersey girl who tells loud stories in her
inside voice because she wants to keep you close. Her poetry and
fiction have appeared in The Pedestal, Pank, Umbrella Factory,
and Nap. Her writing has seen stages from Portland to Orlando.
She has a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire
College, splitting her time between Somerville, MA and Providence,
RI in the U.S.A.


Yell me down
from the tree,

proud cat
and your voice,

a ladder. I imagine
a future us, like shadow

puppets made with eyes
closed—twenty fingers

blotting out sun
by touch. Dark dance

on knuckled
wings. Yell me

down like spring fog, skinned
knee, kite tail, spider web.

Call me a cloud, liar.
Heal over gravel dotted

gash—spin the spool—
catch me in your teeth.

The Right Words

My sisters play Sorry on the floor, take turns
drawing cards that might send them home. The nurses
climb over their game to check his vitals.

I pad around in socks for two days
as if wandering the dorms at college. They warned
his heart would burst my freshman year. He lived
through graduation; I refused to walk.
I am a poor monument to a shrunken god.

There is an hour when he gasps so
hard, we are sure.

There is no green beating mountain
range on a monitor, only his breath, shallow sea
with fickle tides. Every book I've read
this month kills a father.

Nicotine High

I smoke my mouth sour,
tongue a tangerine's
rough peel. Pucker,
kiss. This is what sunburn
tastes like, love. This
tight, arid, skinny feel.
I've hold the summer
against my teeth.
It is buzzing there,
beating at my lip
like a bird's wing.

Sense Memory

You left your scarf in my purse
and I wore it all week
just for the smell of you.
Scallops. Smoke. The wine
that stained your tongue.
Leather and trees. I take this
currency to bed with me, sleep in a nest
with the ghost of our sweat, lament changing
sheets on laundry day. The road home
becomes a simple question of scent:
the crackle of almost-snow
where I was pulled over past Worcester;
the 7-11 where we pried open the car's bent hood
to feed her another quart of oil;
the alley behind Local Burger
where I lifted my dress to show you
the tops of my stockings. My skin blooms
with lost proximity—bruises smaller
than new purple irises. The memory of teeth
in my shoulder. The print of your rushed thumb
on my wrist. Forgive my stumble. I am still
a young horse, no matter how broken.
All I know of falling is finding the ground.

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