Emily O’Neill


If it’s still a restaurant
let’s never go back there.
Let’s speak only in the code
used by teens who collect Schnabel quotes

& forego sex, because who has the time?
There are so many worthless people
waiting to be insulted. Tell me all about them.
Pretend we’re at the Seville before the smoking ban.

That’s how the coffee we’ve made tastes, so bitter
that it gives me hiccups. I’m laughing because we learned
to kiss how I learned to drink my coffee black.
If I had stayed in Catholic school or drawn our hands

hundreds of times, layered triangles of broken
knuckle. Shadow birds. Rabbit tangrams.
Another week of cake for lunch daily with a boy I loved
who loved me. But I have no sweet tooth

& it’s better to burn than be touched. Pretend
when I say my parents are a Springsteen song
it isn’t because I ran away to Manhattan every weekend
trying not to end up the same brand of doomed.

Peter lives almost in Inwood. His camera grew a flash
& he is made of marble from biking the length of our city
twice daily. The bar is drenched in caramel light.
When we were kids he blurred me holy with silver

& printed the miracle by hand. Tonight, we’ll smoke
on the roof of his building, where he’ll say
let’s finish these naked & I’ll notice that we run
like speed is something you can inherit.


Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Muzzle Magazine, Paper Darts, Sugar House Review, and Whiskey Island, among others. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Yes Yes Books in 2014. You can pick her brain at http://emily-oneill.com