Author Archives: Emily O'Neill

About Emily O'Neill

Yes Yes Books author, local catbug

the brain is a hungry organ

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& the kitchen fills with smoke
the night you swear / you’d break
his knuckles / after asking

what sharing a roof smarts of / the broken
escalator / pan spitting to sear
dry aged steaks / it’s past

the expiration for saying so / for stopping
lock receding into chamber / I sleep
here without careful supervision

I am the wine / tasting of cigars, dark
fruit / bear meat grows up from berries
& people too / we all cluster
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Three Poems (#2) – Emily O’ Neill


Everything to Everyone
I put myself in stupid places: Hampton Beach
Casino Ballroom, same shoes on for 18 hours. Nobody buckles
at the beach. Nobody worries swell will snap them like a wish-
bone. One half of me is napping, the other half yell-singing
“Father of Mine.” My father didn’t vanish before my anger crawled
with aphids, then flowered. Rage didn’t die with him, only changed
shape. Who drew me a father without eyes? Was it his father
pulled over the night he was born, thrown into the drunk tank
slurring not from scotch but from thirst and didn’t the cops
laugh in his crinkled face when he asked for a candy bar
and didn’t Lee rescue him with the Hundred Grand in her purse
and deliver him to his only son? My grandmother wants me to believe
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Three Poems – Emily O’ Neill


The Internet doesn’t know

my father’s been dead
three years. We burned
his body. Do you remember
Ghostwriter, that show haunted
with machines & mystery kids?
The ghost would spell things out
in magnet letters. Mystery: my fridge
full of takeout. Mystery: chili in the freezer
I won’t thaw. Mystery: who gave me the recipe?
Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad, they pushed
my book back again. You’ll be dying
in my mind & on the Internet forever as an answer to
“who is your audience?” & “why do you bother
shouting at dogs in the street?”

I never log on to Linked In
because the algorithm asks
me if I might know my own dead
dad—if I’d like to connect
with him here, professionally, to help
my career. I’m a liar for money
& for love I’m worse. For love, I rust.
My nerves, un-galvanized. My inbox
suggests the “Sean” I’m typing
this message for is a shimmer of code
where a grave should be.

My father told a story
about when he went blind, how
his mother tried to make him drive
on the highway. How she refused
grieving what couldn’t be salvaged, insisted
on a version of the truth more artifact
than actual. Dad, I emailed you
my picture & biography
for a show. It was an accident.
I hope you know I’m still lying
exactly how you would have—enough
bark to the stories that nobody gets too close.

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