Two Poems

Emily O'Neill

don't know how not to beg


two hours slept in the past two days

& aren’t we too old for this

some day in the very near future


I’d like to propose toasting

every slice a second time

& scratch tickets when night grows ungodly


frozen on the trek I’ve only done in reverse

Rat City never a sleeping place until

I spend the night on his shoulder, a bird


he always thought me taller

blame stilts or volume of my unbridled

voice & I don’t know how


not to beg me to slow down a little

to rest, to consider, to be nobody

awhile & hide what I know


of his back when the sweater comes off

dragging t-shirt with it every time

this is a summer gesture misplaced


I remember nothing I can’t carry

with me & night sneaks out of the party

& I sneak out of asking for seconds


Rat City near the old place I would stay

up too late on the porch couches kissing

boys without last names or intentions


like this boy kissing the girl I had been

instead of kissing me & aren’t I older

than the owner of this tremor


& wasn’t the girl anybody’s to take

home anyway no one owns satisfaction

or Allston or what changes without warning


this spit, the constant memorization

of who has danced with whom & what

might happened if somebody cut in

 About the Writer
Split Lip Press

Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in The Boiler, Nightblock, and Powder Keg, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books' Pamet River Prize and she edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.



dry iron & wax paper


I am taking
off my lipstick
& climbing
between warm
sheets. tonight
I read a piece of you
into the room with me—bolted
lightning. it isn't easy pretending
ease. but we act easy
anyway. we wake up
to walk past trash
to the coffee beans
that keep us sewn
into old clothes, eyes
open in spite of best efforts.
I have every intention
of thanking you
for holding me
in your palm (flat
grapefruit seed)

as we ran to smack
that knockoff Pooh piñata
until it bled sugar into our mouths.
candles sometimes ruin altars
by running away. I know you
wildfire into almost gone
like I do. I don't have to
recount the breaks
because you
named them. you
who hold me to me.
we are shouting
across the gorge
where every kite
goes to die. don't
do it too. make a pact
with me to keep naming
the breaks what crows they are.
keep crying murder when
the cup is overfull. I didn't
buy a second round.

left the iron hissing.
I want to feel it all.