EMILY O’NEILL

 

WITHOUT CONFERRING, WE BOTH ASK FOR A SMOKE & DAGGER

 

smack me so hard I’m a toothache / enforcing myself as eventual

victor over savage time / victor & victory both / give me one glass

of brut & everything else / give me nothing that might fin


you or make this saltier Gloucester / can you see the harbor

on me anymore / that savage snifter size of a lampshade / Shaher sparked

a strike anywhere match & singed sense to a faint smell / my hair


so long now but still blue / I made you lay down & touch

the ocean / used your hat to fish distance back out / we eat

& eat these animal piles then climb down into the warmth of it


Flower Child after Flower Child & I don’t taste any grass / just yellow

peppers just Italy along your lineless forehead / the soup

only needs more mine to it / the soup needs to overhear


more than what you said / kiss, a kind of chef’s table / where

have I been that you remember / what do you taste when I round

my mouth / how much we tartare / how much we pretend


no one sees us leave / raise our eyebrows / laugh as though

we’ve had each other for breakfast more times than you drink / coffee

to wake up / three cups until you vibrate through the shift, laughing


one clipped shout / tell me to ask for cold brew / tell me Cynar

or cider or whatever fruit you spend on an empty afternoon / your friends

can see me faking / how I always shake with two hands / a politician


you bite your lip the Christmas orange / chug from a bottle

of chartreuse / ask who noticed our cab, our hands, our table / full

of more than we can handle confidently / I keep the secret


by not speaking / the bartender brings bone broth

around in the most beautiful pot then pours / the onions

& the chanterelles are still alive when you swallow












POUR TWO FINGERS IN MY GLASS PLEASE

              

there’s an ad on the train proclaiming egg health / I know

I told you I’m broken anyway / when we do the reckless thing

again before breakfast / when you put your arm around me


on the train / I am not cold or pigeon-toed / I’m poached & toasted

tasting apples in the Orval / stir up something red for me / call us

equal / the best sound: the torch & pan at 5 AM / the best


sound / why the sky fades paper white / tell me a story about the bottle’s neck

widening & why espresso sticks to my teeth / why you have parking tickets

with my name on them / how the yolk still runs onto the plate


it feels like a snarl to cross the river backwards / hat tipping

down over my eyes / don’t see why another hour can’t be tithed / to flowers

I won’t give back a second time / your house on fire / alarm stinging us


back into our own bodies / I let you cook when I said I couldn’t stand it / I can

stand it / every course, a cheese course / let this age properly / see me failing

at loneliness / your number called at the butcher shop / what can I do for you










Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems can be found in Public Pool, Whiskey Island, and Washington Square, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She is the author of three chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine), You Can’t Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway), and Make a Fist & Tongue the Knuckles (Nostrovia! Press). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.
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