even the alphabet betrays me
you can sing a song to remember what order
the lies come. pretend you're a unicorn.
that you're magic. rare. light. pretend you're hurting
& shouldn't someone help you. pretend to love me
until the trap closes. there is no spell for spelling this.
pretend you'll die if I divorce myself from being useful.
you're a no-kill shelter, Emily. if you don't soothe
the struggle, you become the problem's source.
I don't have custody of the sham marriage.
somebody put our mutt down, then
buried her under the back porch
with the dead lawn mower. phonics of no.
you can sing it when the door slams
on your hand or you can sing it before
you've been buried or you can rattle your chains
down the hall from your demons as if
you don't all share a house. I'm all of the above.
injured. buried. singing. vacant. home is
where the start hid. home is where the spark bit.
home misspelled as hold me. I divorce
myself. I'm only just beginning
to tell it. home is where
you held me down.
one room city
the bar full
of no one wanting
you to stay so
stop showing up
already / stupid dead
bird I re-meet
every gutter I'm not
going to bury you
nor am I the kind of shot
who kills without sighting
I see you drifting down
the window bloody
you're sober as September
attentive to your hate sprigs
treating them like succulents
pouring beer & beer / blow
foam away over the yard
in dripping clouds
keg kicks / I have nothing
left to tap or empty
my new ghost ate the prints
off his fingers he doesn't
believe in robin's egg blue
doesn't gun the engine
won't ring me or the party
stop barging in on neighbors
expecting sugar where
there is none / there’s nothing
to key no mortuary no double
barreled death for us I'll plant
a fern & walk off feathered
alive uncomfortable introduced
to everybody as one you mean
to blot out by imitation
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 Yes Yes Books' Pamet River Prize and she edits poetry for Wyvern Lit. You can find her online @tabernacleteeth.