there’s an obvious difference between Hawthorne & julep
strainers, an obvious reason why some people can’t eat
pineapple. an obvious recipe for property. for help.
for solitude. I can’t stop me
from horsehide / can’t suntan
the virgin out. I’m shy & nobody
believes me. the memorized proof: what’s loud
can’t call itself afraid / what’s afraid
can’t cry out when startled.
I make noise & call that safety. buck
the bed two feet from the wall. hello
is what me laughing means. I laugh when
I don’t have to say so. good morning. everyone saw
us leaving. sometimes a secret only pretends
it’s the best part.
I haven’t been to any country but this one.
there’s a rum & sugar for that kind of solidity.
they drink it simple, in Martinique. I remember
saying I would kill you in the street
for too much skin & you gave me a coconut
& I threw up oysters for two days
as punishment for dragging you to the dock
instead of kissing strawberry seeds out of my own teeth.
it’s hard to eat knowing where I’ve been.
sometimes depression is the bathtub
full & boiling. the book about Florida
leather seats where boys are taken
away from childhood. about remembering
only what you’re forced to. water stains
between paragraphs. knife / tear / orange
oil hurling match across a glass
mouth. it was an accident.
I didn’t plan on a Blood & Sand
but I do always want more
scotch. more flame. more raw. more
want to wear because I’m thinner
than when we met. blinded by hunger.
younger than my gray says I might be. want
is a kind of testimony / a calculation.
don’t make me explain.
there are programs for that
written to simulate chance encounters.
I’d rather someone familiar
have a whim towards dissection.
I’d rather your logical hands
on a metal spoon. unclouded ice.
losing my edge. dying doesn’t seem scary
when death is poured for me. tallish glass
of sherry or that light mushroomy wine
color of antique lace. I walk past
perfect windows at La Perla
on my way to teach & the fur
around one mannequin’s shoulders
is enough. I give up. am tired
of fucking in rooms where
I’m the only one undressed
of intellect. if I die
I’m prepared to pour
down a drain mixed with sweat
& whatever else made me / hello
my mouth remembers cognac
in the marrow. it’s you. your fault. you know
too much about my burial. where is your mind
now? somewhere outside
the body. how dare you
give me that freedom.
Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in The Journal, Horse Less Review, and Washington Square, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize and she edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.