Emily O'Neill


emily o'Neill


so many surprises: I like coconut 

now / & you are softest when we lock the door 

rabbit fur / or the very best butter 


can I call your name without / sounding cross or 

should I make up a new one entirely / about how 

you sing in such a small voice / unless 


it’s Dean Martin & we’ve gotten into the grape juice 

again / or how you hold me / in the dark after 

days I’ve felt impossible / like swimming 


with Bahamian swine or / how there’s a pig 

for every person in Iowa / people start poems saying 

this poem is / & I want to interrupt them 


say I drank an Ampersand made with Clement Rhum 

for dinner / say the man I love quotes Neruda at weddings 

but would never write a word willingly / confession: I tasted new 


tartare without you tonight & almost cried / it was too wet 

too far from what we want knocking elbows / when an animal 

is of utmost importance / carve my stutter down 


into a palatable joke: me asleep under my coat / feet tucked 

under your suitcase as it swells / you could take me as luggage 

to the island that started / this volley of new preparations 


must have been asleep / must have passed out then 

panicked thinking / I dozed through your departure / fear mistaken for 

the primacy of fire / but I’m not afraid / feel made of the best butter 


we should all slaughter a pig at least once / be sure our stomachs make sense 

from start to finish / a way of thanking what we bleed / like Malman 

& his potatoes or fire pits—there is no half 


satisfaction / come home full 

of sand hoping / the plate is worth 

how it was made

Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in The Journal, Redivider, and Washington Square, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books' Pamet River Prize. She is the author of two chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine, 2016) and You Can't Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.