all the reasons why – Emily O’Neill

I’m insufferable: Pat Benatar,
Debbie Harry, Susannah Hoffs / sneer
decreasing by degrees / still can’t
hand me off to your mother expecting
accolades. can’t housebreak an orphan
unless you sign papers. I wonder what might
happen if I made an invisible child
from our poorly matched sockets
& plugs / could I keep the lights on
(painful fluorescence) long
enough to notice which baby
teeth were only gum-threaded / good
as gone / in the morning. the coffee cups
thimble-sized & scrawled with j’taime
three times each / wake up / love
spell / drink til it blues your lips & buries
us both. melted into the carpet / what ballad
slingshot us / into the eighties or / onto the bus
stuffed full of Billy Idol. you can’t take me
home to mom because she isn’t anywhere.
I never liked breakfast so / my mother made me
eat soup when I refused / eggs, refused / anything but
salt & scald. I’m sorry I always joke about dying / ease
seems like a scarf I left / somewhere unfinished. you’re already
wearing your wool coat / the leaves go unpretty
& I won’t see you / without remembering
how important it feels to have espresso
inside of someone’s house / how sweet of you
not to ask / why I called or what / scares me.
I’m no good at skirts / keep thinking
I’d be hiding if it weren’t for the cats. I can’t
look at you / in the dark. I try to imagine
the song I was singing / you asked about my costume,
if I ever wore one, if it saved me. I’m not sure
which version to tell when all of them are fact.

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 collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize, and she edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.
You can pick her brain @tabernacleteeth or

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