Poetry Suite by Emily O’Neill

Editor Carrie Ivy, Poetry, August 4th, 2014

curled together like pages of a book fallen into the bath—they can’t read us

emily oneill poetry suite nailed magazine
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every time I’m alone I wonder why

after Britney Spears

 

hello tastes so pretty when you believe
there’s another waiting. hello haunts me.
the dance card’s empty. my hands are empty. my heart
plays innocent but she did this to me. oops, I’m another man’s fool.
oops, I’m my own problem again. I’m some star no one sees falling
& every time I fall out of my clothes the heat won’t last.
all the people in the crowd grab a partner. I’m left
standing on the wall. hush, baby. let’s make believe
for whatever reason, paradise cares what little girls want.
I pull my own hair, pretend pain is a stranger. work hard
on the logic of sometimes. don’t tell me to shut my eyes.
don’t tell me to shop around. I know what I want
& the world keeps setting it free.

+ + +

hello, scarecrow

 

………..lets drag down the sun & stick it with black feathers

give the light wings, make it a song—

………..………..………how the pipes swell before bursting//
………..……….I cannot un-know your face that first wakeful moment:
………..………..………..………..pillow smell / the ink in my elbow
………..………..………..………..……….& how you wanted what you wanted
………..………..………but never once touched me or took it

………..lets drag down the windowshade sun & sit on tarred roof while it rains

I dream you a bird instead of a ghost

………..………..………pass through you & no cold comes
………..……….there’s hush, the push of wings / you’re perched high on a branch
………..………..………..………..while I’m still down in the riverbed where
………..………..………you told me you’d wait for the right summoning spell

………..rapture is a funny thing / god culling bodies like ears of corn

I dream you a bird, make your bones dance
………..………..………in oil / this accident—my fingers too close
………..………to your open mouth, burnt in the quiet loamy dark of sheets
………..………..………..………..& shake me please & dissolve into me, early light

………..the creek’s come back to you & here I am too

& there’s no man standing in the water saying don’t touch

+ + +

 

Cave of Wonders

 

I order plantains, ceviche, another Old Cuban.
Sugar dates & figs & a spoonful of forget-me-not blue.
Walk a long flight of stairs to a view we never see: here’s where
the rich write checks to assuage guilty wallets. Here, watch them
bid on seasons away, on wine at the feet of mountains, on imaginary
luxury. I know where the gold really is: lift the carpet & gather our dust.
Ash & blush & what a greedy mistake I am. Pass your hand
over the belly of the lamp; the air will taste sharp.
Shaved fennel & pistachio. Three wishes dangle in the air.
Each of them imperfect. The first one turned out all wrong:
My heart too grown & weighty for a girl my age / not unlike
waiting for my name to flood back into a dark room
in a city, say it’s Vancouver. Say he planted me
in foreign soil / invasive species / & I grew there
like hair. swung from ceiling like a chandelier.
second wish: I want to be a chandelier, to know
you can’t touch me like I won’t shred your fingers
velvet. blood thinned / we go soft in the post-midnight shift
from shade to secret. Here is the ghost composed of what I thought
important: that freckle colony across your shoulders, the quickness
of your fingers. I’ll never know what you thought when I slid
along the wall—a passing headlight—& vanished out the window,
tiger-style. My paws fat & quiet. Every bird in the menagerie robbed
of scream. I’ve stolen bread from rougher men & both my hands remain
my own. I’ve stolen bread to bury my bones deeper than they belong
but there’s no cave sleep in this desert. No wonder to swallow
me in a gust, no apt punishment for my greedy open mouth.
I haven’t wished for worlds undone. I haven’t wished at all
in years. There’s one more oasis waiting in the belly of the lamp
but there are no right words to summon it. Say the rains
come early, leave late. What then? Could I beg a boat
out of thin air? Would it leak if I trusted it too much?

+ + +

 

Thistle Down

 

The finches outside are capital letter
loud so we say “GO HOME BIRDS
YOU’RE DRUNK” // we’re talking to ourselves,
really, & you’re nestled into the crescent of neck
between my chin & my shoulder, kissing
with your quiet lips / giggling / your hair
falling out of its pins & you’re saying
“how will it be on Monday” so I answer
“it can be secret if you want” or “maybe I just go home”
but home is the wrong kind of no so we start kissing
again & every time I bite you a little you giggle some more
so I stop but you say “don’t stop” & this is why men get angry
at girls like us—sharing the same tiny armchair, curled together
like pages of a book fallen into the bath—they can’t read us
& so they get angry (maybe angry is the wrong word, maybe
they’re try to make their shame at staring our shame)
but I’m not ashamed to leave together or to ask “is this okay?
is this okay?” This thistle down seed gathered in my hands.
This no radio drive & me fingering your fishnets
on the inside of your thighs, learning how you lean
deeper into me until we are oyster shells shucked
clean of meat. Don’t the boys think it’s hideous of us
to abandon them this way? What do they have to prove,
Anuschka? Are we in the wind already?
Are we still too young to know better than skin?

+ + +

We Are All Wolves

 

Killing moon and a spade in my fist.
………I tell myself, be an open span of turned earth, a furrow
………………untapped by roots. Better to tell the truth
………that comes when called, like blood becomes a lake
beneath the skin. All the concrete talk I’ve practiced, false;
………the howl will always twist past teeth—
………………eager essential. No consonants rise
in my chest. Only stretched vowels that mean sinning.

Better to believe in a sprawling
………loneliness, like a gutted city
………………or a river fat and falling over
damside. Better open up and say,
………I am no better than a long and pealing
………………scream. Jagged,
how I crumpled under the August sky
………hot with night birds, trilling.

When I deny that I’m wild
………a once green part of me goes gray.
………………Little bones, white crumbled shells.
………Little stones skipped across water,
only I can feel their ripples in my lungs.
………Who told me to hide from the fierce spaces that built me?

………………Instinct won’t die by a bullet.
………………………Won’t burn, bury
………………tame, or thrill, or
………kill its young for food.

+ + +

emily oneillEmily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her work has recently appeared in Banango Street, Muzzle Magazine, and Vector Press, and her poem “de Los Muertos” was selected by Jericho Brown as the winner of Gigantic Sequins’ second annual poetry contest. She teaches creative writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and her debut collection, Pelican, is forthcoming from Yes Yes Books in 2014. You can pick her brain here.

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Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.