please don’t him them
bent / heat / who
hurt the roots & grew
up crooked / lead
melted into water
tells the future / better
than rising sun / gold drips
filigree / before getting
bent / alchemy
tries at godhood but
can’t make the leap / can’t believe
the ring you didn’t give / who
gave you yourself
as weapon / who taught you
to cudgel love from earth
like a miner racing
collapse / nothing could lead to this
cave but compulsion / who
says begging heat
is hurtful / who asked
to call this mythic / you
in the dress you’ll own
no matter your name / can’t
imagine your jaw softer
your hair longer / the twist
in your too-small skin
when it leans
towards ore / towards
the sun as you steal it
right out of my hands
affirmation for the damned
we are lucky to walk
on our hind legs. to have houses,
thumbs, gods to smite us when
we’re particularly wicked. we are lucky
to have eluded all predators, to flower
past reason & back around to teething
on our own bones.
what kind of animal
teaches its young to run from heat? to suffocate
supple grass & chew through hide instead, to wear
want as a mark of pride. want is a scar. want is a scar
& it swells when you wonder what blade birthed it.
wonder instead of praying: what man builds a temple
unless it’s to himself. I think of what god
I’ve lost & I’m disgusting. take the wine
away, take my sacrificial body. hurt
without a face attached may as well be fire.
let it burn. let a chorus of warmth carry
me through flame on condor wings.
make me more than animal.
teach me hunger without hurt.
Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Five Quarterly, Profane, and Split Rock Review, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.
Tags: affirmation for the damned, Emily O'Neill, Pamet River Prize, Pelican, please don't him them, Yes Yes Books