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1 poem

by Emily O'Neill

Emily O'Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Boston, MA. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books' Pamet River Prize for women and nonbinary writers and the winner of the 2016 Devil's Kitchen Reading Series. Her second collection, a falling knife has no handle, is forthcoming from YesYes in the fall of 2018. She is the author of four chapbooks and her recent work has appeared in Cutbank, Entropy, Hypertrophic Literary, Jellyfish, and Redivider.

This poem was longlisted for the 2018 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge Morgan Parker.

two wrongs can never equal each other


bleed the desert of its primary sugar

out late enough to feel the moon

as a knuckleball throbbing

away from my hand

you know they’re cutting

coke with fentanyl now & I’d be dead

if I had grown up in a different direction

instead I’m a cutting of could’ve been

petulant fruit knife sinking into knuckle fold

let the citrus in where it shouldn’t go

hot sting to carry us into tomorrow

there’s a hanged man coming out of a cave today

& we’re meant to devil eggs over it

I hear you slamming the front door

& pushing through clutter drawers, frantic

you know they won’t evict us & I’d be dead

if I believed in a sharp order to who does what

around here you’re so two-faced & I don’t get

to see any chambray sea or crush the past

into something easier to sweep away

I un-quit smoking every time I flinch too hard

& lately that shiver is daily can you smell it

brutal on my hands do you care about

what comes back around, all the hours

you spend praying someone else

solves the problem first

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