“them bones” – Poetry by Emily O’Neill

Skeleton of the Chicken - C. William Beebe, 1906
Skeleton of the Chicken – C. William Beebe, 1906

“them bones” is spooky like a voodoo curse, punk like a bloody middle finger, and just one of five fantastic poems by Emily O’Neill that you can read in our Fall 2014 issue.

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THERE ARE SNAKES IN THE STAIRS
& hens in your kitchen
clucking loving wasn’t
as hard as you made it
& it might be a miracle
the birds don’t end
up strangled & swallowed
by hiss & fang

you flap & crow (stupid cock)
so early to the after-party
& your whole apartment
is women telling me not to stay
is ankle fang & feather & blood & you swallow
your tail like a secret to keep & roll
back down the stairs

I have nothing new to say
about hurt or my heart but
loving wasn’t as hard as sucking the venom out
or spite round my neck, a mink stole,
& the bones of these ugly birds have boiled & dried
so the question grows into how many wishes
arrive with each break

one for death / one for dishonor / one for tassel
shoulders & damask lampshades worn as hats /
one for bon voyage / I hate you / that isn’t a wish,
just a clean break / one for the hissing truth /
the hissing truth you’ll never stomach

if ever you knelt & asked me to tell it
I would grow scales & choke on black velvet, would spit-shine
that idiot diamond before wearing your promise ring,
would walk into the angry sea to drown
before mixing my dust with yours

before snapping a hen’s neck
just to stop that awful sound

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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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