“Street Music” – Poetry by Emily O’Neill

Sleeping Princess - Frances MacDonald, 1909
Sleeping Princess – Frances MacDonald, 1909

Emily O’Neills poetry is vicious yet vulnerable, visceral yet cerebral, and completely at home in the Flapperhouse. We’re excited to include five of her poems in our Fall 2014 issue (PDFs currently pre-orderable for $3US). One of those poems, “Street Music,” is below:

{ X }

cunt like a jewelry box:
dancer spinning over wooden toe & inside,
a jeweled egg.  Yolkless.

Inside the egg, another dancer
with hands over her mouth.
Inside her mouth, a bird
on a perch singing needle
song, a cranking tin machine

& the needles are shining brass
& brass is a lie to tell a child
about who stays in charge

& children don’t always trust
like a blind man must & the metal is cold
like a lover rolled over & we know
it will tarnish

on a long enough timeline.  The chain breaks.
The blind man steps off a curb & is not thrown into crosswalk
death by a stranger’s rush. The child pricks her finger on a spindle
& sleeps until she ages past ache.  She will never ask
if the wolves could’ve raised her better
because she taught herself to howl
just fine.

The needles fly back into the bird’s throat & sew a new song;
a sailor sings it from a nest above the sea
& doffs his hat for the dancer’s legs, the dancer’s breasts,

the dancer’s hips spun and barbed like razor wire.  She crumples
under the sailor’s gaze, is discarded.  The egg closes its shining jaws around her,

steals her from what frivolous nothing
the world says she means

& I keep dancing
away from
the cut.

{ X }

IMG_1535EMILY O’NEILL is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Electric Cereal, Gigantic Sequins, and Split Rock Review, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize and forthcoming in 2014. You can pick her brain at http://emily-oneill.com.

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