Issue #2: PGH, Emily O’Neill



no white t-shirts / hot dog dinner
at church with the pastor / knees patched

with names of bands neck-knotting bus rides away
in the land of only off jumps / the land of more

bridges than bones in my left hand / land where
I accept Jesus Christ as my close personal

friend for the sake of argument / where I first meet
cinnamon whiskey / where the African grey

shrieks above record dust & we make tapes
of conversations, knowing this history should be

cleanly preserved for future generations of crusty kids
praying with tattooed hands / rolling cigarettes / waking

early & pouring tea & talking through which testament
is best lit /  I’m sitting in the director’s chair chewing

my cuticle / sleeping in your twin bed
on Star Wars sheets / calm as The Virgin

opening her porcelain chest to expose heart
skewered with seven sorrows / one through

three, ways I’ve opened (hopeful) to receive
the good word & been stung / fourth, a burn or

pebble-sized pock scar on my stomach / miniature itch
carried in spite of surviving flame / the fifth

found at the bottom of a glass & the sixth
as I stir sauce on the stove / number seven

more happy accident / if you leave nothing
behind, your only excuse for return

is want / so yes, I’m wanting / present
tense / the seventh sorrow is flight

the seventh hurts like cheap stuff,
swallowed / warms like wine as it breathes

I accept Jesus as the reason we were easy
but ease needs liquor to stick / I don’t pray

to a god but I’ll pray to the basement
responsible for our church / the sounds of bowling

alley upstairs / blessed ashtrays & open-
mouthed smiles / how I still shy

from blasphemy even though
I’ve not believed in years



Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Gigantic Sequins, Muzzle Magazine, and Vector, among others. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize and forthcoming in 2014. You can pick her brain at


2 responses to “Issue #2: PGH, Emily O’Neill

  1. Fantastic use of enjambment and cogent diction- this conjured all sorts of gritty, vivid imagery.


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