The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a falling knife has no handle by Emily O’Neill

THE BRAIN IS A HUNGRY ORGAN

& the kitchen fills with smoke
the night you swear / you’d break
Derek’s knuckles / for the shadow he left
his error, what sharing a roof smarts of
the broken escalator / pan spitting to sear
dry aged steaks / it’s past
the expiration for saying so / for stopping
lock receding into chamber / I sleep
here without careful supervision
I am the wine / tasting of cigars, dark
fruit / bear meat grows up from berries
& people too / we all cluster
around the hot light / call liquid bright
when it stings the tongue / call the mind
a trap closing & recognition its trigger

call me sear / shaking against cast
iron / it’s midnight & the oven hisses
as witness / I sleep here a cluster
of what tastes / best paired / the bottle
stands breathing / key in my pocket
offering each night on a tray

This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press.  Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, CutbankCatapultRedividerSalt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a falling knife has no handle by Emily O’Neill

IF YOU COULD SEE WHERE I LEARNED TO COOK

sousing for my gram & I sing her French love songs
I can’t translate / she knows it’s about eyes & bones & beds
I think / how embarrassing to not speak
the language, to undress parsley of yellow leaves
& crave your tile island / how we don’t speak when eating
the coal quiet / sage leaves soft as rabbit
fur / shredded over risotto you are probably eating right now
in Chicago / I had rice for dinner too / from a freezer bag
because she’s cooked for three generations
& is too tired for big meals two consecutive nights
I take down the big knife, think
I’m helping & regret / I step outside myself
so quickly / table where my plate would go cold
& wait for me all night until breakfast / each portion
hard & dry & still mine / nothing like

the farro dish we ordered twice / chestnuts
& an open hand waiting to take whatever is left
Gram carving pork into the pan
from the back of the fridge / pulling
paring knife into her thumb again
again / two rabbits in the yard / a hutch
she calls The Rabbit Taj Mahal
we had rabbit meatballs that night, yes?
I keep consistent
enough to eyeball a 1/4 cup of diced onion
exactly / it makes her proud to see me
snapping walnuts down to dust by hand

This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press.  Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, CutbankCatapultRedividerSalt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

Holler Salon Featuring Matt Hart, Kristi Maxwell, and Ashley Dailey

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) is pleased to announce poetry readings from Matt Hart, Ashley Dailey, and Kristi Maxwell at in Oak Ridge on Friday, November 15.

Join us for a free dinner at 6PM followed by readings at 7PM. As always, BYOB and carpool when possible!

Matt Hart is the author of nine books of poems, including most recently Everything Breaking/for Good (YesYes Books, 2019) and The Obliterations (Pickpocket Books, 2019). Additionally, his poems, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous print and online journals, including The Academy of American Poets online, Big Bell, Cincinnati Review, Coldfront, Columbia Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Jam Tarts Magazine, jubilat, Kenyon Review online, Lungfull!, Mississippi Review, POETRY, and Waxwing, among others. His awards include a Pushcart Prize, a 2013 individual artist grant from The Shifting Foundation, and fellowships from both the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and plays in the band NEVERNEW.

Ashley Dailey is a first-year MFA candidate at the University of Tennessee and an Academy of American Poets Award winner. She’s moved states three times in the past five years because she enjoys being lonely and dependent on Google Maps.
 
Excerpt
Forever is a broom & pale–
a Lisbon street littered with Jacaranda petals.
It’s all day to fill the pale
& to refill the pale.

Kristi Maxwell is the author of six books of poems, including Bright and Hurtless (Ahsahta Press, 2018) and That Our Eyes Be Rigged (Saturnalia Books). Her poems have recently appeared in jubilat, Bennington Review, RHINO, Boston Review, and Black Warrior Review. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville.

Excerpt from “(Pre)Occupation”
To be put out or to put out. Turning our girls
into trash with our language. Upsets today
upset tomorrow. O, vacillation. O, metaphorical vaccine.
The “o” is a prick but is this fairytale or slang.

Doubleback Announces Newest Release: “The Opposite of Work”

Doubleback Books, an imprint of Sundress Publications, is pleased to announce the upcoming release of The Opposite of Work by Hugh Behm-Steinberg. This poetry collection was selected in our 2019 open reading period for fall publication. The Opposite of Work was originally published by JackLeg Press and we’re excited to bring it back for new readers. 

The meditative poems in The Opposite of Work are paired with intriguing images on opposite-facing pages. The images, which operate as a flipbook, were created by Mary Behm-Steinberg. Doubleback will also release a companion video of the book.

On The Opposite of Work—

“Hugh Behm-Steinberg has built a dream-rattled space. It is a space of stretched ideas and ideals,” Tony Mancus, PANK.

“Delicately explores the effort to come to terms with one’s own soul and the Other,” Charles Kruger, The Rumpus.

“Extraordinary magic and possibility,” S. Marie Clay, Ghost Town.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg is a poet and short fiction writer. His books of poetry include Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books, 2007), as well as three Dusie chapbooks, Sorcery (2007), Good Morning! (2011), and The Sound of Music (2015). A collection of prose poems and microfiction, Animal Children, is forthcoming from Nomadic Press in January, 2020.

Behm-Steinberg is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing at Stanford University and the recipient of an NEA fellowship. His short story “Taylor Swift” won the Barthelme Prize for short fiction, and his story “Goodwill” was picked as one of the Wigleaf Top Fifty Very Short Fictions of 2018. From 2007-2017 he served as Faculty Editor of Eleven Eleven, and he is currently the Chief Steward of the adjunct faculty union at California College of the Arts.

Look for The Opposite of Work, book download and video, coming soon at Doubleback Books.

Website: sundresspublications.com/doubleback             Facebook: DoublebackBooks
Email: doubleback@sundresspublications.com               Twitter: @DoublebackP

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a falling knife has no handle by Emily O’Neill

WITHOUT CONFERING, WE BOTH ASK FOR A SMOKE & DAGGER

smack me so hard I’m a toothache / enforcing
myself, a victor over savage time / give me
one glass of brut & everything else
give me nothing that might fin you or make this saltier
Gloucester / can you see the harbor
on me anymore / or that savage snifter
size of a lampshade / Shahir sparked
a strike anywhere match & singed
sense to a faint smell / my hair
so long now but still blue / we eat
& eat these animal piles then climb down
into the warmth of it / how much we tartare
how much we pretend no one sees us leave
raise our eyebrows / laugh as though
we’ve had each other for breakfast more times

than you drink / coffee to wake up / three cups until
you vibrate through the shift, laughing
one clipped shout / tell me to ask for cold brew
tell me Cynar or cider or whatever
fruit you spend on an empty afternoon / just yellow
peppers just Italy / along your lineless forehead
where have I been that you remember / what do you taste
when I round my mouth / kiss, a kind of chef’s table
your friends can see me faking / how I always shake
with two hands / a politician / you bite your lip
the Christmas orange / chug from a bottle
of chartreuse / ask who noticed our cab, our hands
our table / full of more plates than we can handle
confidently / I keep the secret by not speaking
the bartender brings bone broth in the most beautiful pot
then pours / the onions
& the chanterelles are still alive
when you swallow

This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press.  Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, CutbankCatapultRedividerSalt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a falling knife has no handle by Emily O’Neill

OLD FASHIONED

I bought a bottle of rye tonight / some dark
salted chocolate, a plate of linguini / a seat
for three hours after hearing you sigh from Chicago
little lemon tongue floating / could I ever impress you
when you are a perfect last name / when you know
everyone sitting & every rotten part of me
make the bed with us in it always / furnace / you make
me furious / porter risotto at two in the morning / sherry
vinegar / peanut butter / my hand hooked
under your left ear or / what you called the worst part
& the most comforting thing of all / sorting
herb leaves / propping up a thought / could I arrive
in time to catch your suitcases / the correct garnish for
an unexpected delay / as if I’ve known
for years how to carry this

a letter delivered by hand / copper
patina / conducting me towards the wrong sleep
ungated flight / unabated sweetness here
the ice is not enough / I know to pour
too generously / I know
it’s only one or two more days
this waiting / I know how
I am greedy / what work
starving takes

This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press.  Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, CutbankCatapultRedividerSalt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: a falling knife has no handle by Emily O’Neill

IF I LEFT A NOTE IN THE MORNING IT WOULD READ

I carry keys to half a dozen houses / but no memory
of the walk to yours / oak leaves hissing
under my boots / I’ve kept the roses
carved from grapefruit rinds
no one makes me anything but you
this, some accidental guilt admission
a quail’s egg, no lipstick sticking to you
or your glass / my mouth a proud trick I play
by saying always / what can I offer that might taste new?
when I was wrapping your breakfast
in wax paper I was supposed to be
loving someone else

This selection comes from the poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, available from YesYes Books.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Emily O’Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Cambridge, MA. Her second poetry collection, a falling knife has no handle, was released with YesYes Books in fall of 2018 and was one of Publishers Weekly‘s ten most anticipated poetry titles of the season. It was also longlisted for the Julie Suk Award from Jacar Press.  Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, was the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize for women and genderqueer writers, as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Series in Poetry. O’Neill is also the author of five chapbooks, most recently You Can’t Pick Your Genre (2nd edition Big Lucks, 2019). Her recent poems, stories, and essays have appeared in The Best Indie Lit New England Anthology, CutbankCatapultRedividerSalt Hill, and Washington Square, among many others. She holds a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College.
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Goodbye Toothless House by Kelly Fordon

Medium

I doubted my father would send communiqués through a
medium. But he turned up right on cue. The medium said Dad
was concerned about the frequency with which I wield “the
sword of injustice.” I knew exactly what he was referring to
having just called my neighbor a bitch. Dad went on to goad
me about my hypochondria. “Well,” I said, “if he’s joking that
must mean the cyst is benign.” The medium used an etch a
sketch. Every now and then I could hear him shaking it through
the phone. My uncle showed up. He was dancing. He didn’t
respond when we asked whether his son had been wrongly
convicted. A former neighbor appeared and reminded me that
I had once coveted her Pottery Barn rug, but, when pressed,
offered no explanation for the suicide. My friend’s husband
wouldn’t reveal whether he’d been poisoned, instead he spent
ten minutes describing his beloved Corvette.

This selection comes from the poetry book, Goodbye Toothless House, available from KATTYWOMPUS PRESS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Kelly Fordon is the author of three poetry chapbooks. The first one, On the Street Where We Live, won the 2012 Standing Rock Chapbook Award and the latest one, The Witness, won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for the Chapbook and was shortlisted for the Grand Prize. Her novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, was chosen as a Michigan Notable Book, a 2016 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Finalist, a Midwest Book Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Finalist, and an IPPY Awards Bronze Medalist in the short story category. Her first full-length poetry collection, Goodbye Toothless House, was published by Kattywompus Press in February 2019. A new short story collection, I Have the Answer, will be published by Wayne State University in April 2020. She teaches at the College for Creative Studies, Springfed Arts, and InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit. www.kellyfordon.com
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Goodbye Toothless House by Kelly Fordon

Body Farm*

Rise: The last
thing you ate
was a small smidge of birthday cake.
Fall: Now you swell
and molder on an army green tarp.
Rise: A raccoon raked
your chest open like a bag of potato chips last night
Fall: but sometimes
your sun-dappled breast still looks like it is….
Rise: While I
was watching, your neighbor, Number 27,
shimmied then popped his bloated tongue pressed into the ground.
Fall: I long to flick
the small spider traversing the length of your belly,
Rise: a monk pressing on
across the desert thirsty, but resigned.

This selection comes from the poetry book, Goodbye Toothless House, available from KATTYWOMPUS PRESS.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Tierney Bailey.

Kelly Fordon is the author of three poetry chapbooks. The first one, On the Street Where We Live, won the 2012 Standing Rock Chapbook Award and the latest one, The Witness, won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for the Chapbook and was shortlisted for the Grand Prize. Her novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, was chosen as a Michigan Notable Book, a 2016 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Finalist, a Midwest Book Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Finalist, and an IPPY Awards Bronze Medalist in the short story category. Her first full-length poetry collection, Goodbye Toothless House, was published by Kattywompus Press in February 2019. A new short story collection, I Have the Answer, will be published by Wayne State University in April 2020. She teaches at the College for Creative Studies, Springfed Arts, and InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit. www.kellyfordon.com
 
Tierney Bailey is a Libra, a lover of science fiction and poetry, and studies Korean in her spare time. Currently, Tierney is an associate poetry editor at Sundress Publications, a copyeditor at Strange Horizons, and a freelance graphic designer. Tierney earned a Masters Degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College. Tierney is most easily found screaming into the void on Twitter as @ergotierney. 

Lyric Essentials: Nate Logan Reads James Tate

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! In our latest installment, Nate Logan shares two of his favorite James Tate poems. He talks about his appreciation of the “deceptive simplicity” that underscores Tate’s poetry and the ways in which Tate’s work has influenced his own. Thanks for reading!


Nate Logan reads “Consolations After an Affair” by James Tate

Riley Steiner: Why did you choose these two poems for Lyric Essentials?

Nate Logan: For me, these poems were relatively easy choices. “Consolations After an Affair” is my favorite Tate poem and my all-time favorite poem. “I sat at my desk and contemplated all that I had accomplished” was the last poem Tate wrote. If you’d asked me to pick three poems, I couldn’t say who I’d put the bronze medal on. “A Wedding,” maybe? Can “I Am a Finn” and “I Am Still a Finn” count as one? 

RS: What do you admire about James Tate’s work?

NL: I’m not the first person to say this, but the deceptive simplicity of Tate’s work always invites me in. In On James Tate, Lee Upton writes: “The banal that we are presumably to control in daily life proves, if not entirely uncontrollable, to be possessed of near-demonic force. That is, in his poems the banal asserts itself.” I love that. Tate’s speakers are in our almost-world: they encounter people and situations that are slightly off, but not so off that I can’t imagine it happening in real life. Even though Tate abandoned writing about his waking life early on, the poems are not devoid of our collective lives.

Nate Logan reads “I sat at my desk and contemplated all that I had accomplished this year” by James Tate

RS: It wasn’t until I started reading about James Tate that I found out that “I sat at my desk…” was the last poem he wrote before he passed away in 2015 after a long illness. Do you think this poem reflects anything about that time of his life?

NL: I never had the opportunity to see Tate read live or take a class with him. I’ve heard various stories about him and am friendly with other poets who did have him as a teacher and/or see him read. I’ve watched some videos online where he appeared frail, but that’s the extent of my personal knowledge of him.

“I sat at my desk…” was discovered in Tate’s typewriter after his death (there’s a picture of it in his last book, The Government Lake). The poem reads as a meditation on age, which seems as natural a topic as any for a poet in his 70s. But still, that singular voice is there. “I ate / a cheeseburger every day for a year. I never want to do that again.” And the end of the poem, it made me tear up the first time I read it: “A policeman stopped me on the street and said / he was sorry. He was looking for someone who looked just like / me and had the same name. What are the chances?” That last sentence, “What are the chances?” is a perfect summary of Tate’s work. I ask this at the end of every Tate poem, not as a way of measuring suspension of disbelief, but as a way to express wonder at what I just read.

RS: Has his work influenced your own in any way?

NL: Oh, certainly. It’s flattering whenever a poet or reader says my work reminds them of Tate. I don’t care to write from my waking life either, so my poems are also filled with situations and speakers from a world like our own, but not exactly. Readers have also told me that my work contains an understated thread of humor, which is also a staple of Tate’s work.

RS: Is there anything you’re currently working on that you’d like to tell us about?

NL: Currently, I’m just writing poems in the routine I established during my MFA. I do have a few poems written with Clu Gulager as a protagonist, which may turn into a chapbook-length manuscript, but he doesn’t need my help making fans.


James Tate is a poet from Kansas City, Missouri. Over the course of his career, Tate published more than 20 collections of poetry. He won the National Book Award for Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994) and the Pulitzer Prize and William Carlos Williams Award for Selected Poems (1991). His final collection, The Government Lake, was published three years after his death in 2015.

Further reading:

Read a feature about James Tate in the New Yorker
Read a review of The Government Lake in The Paris Review
Purchase The Government Lake

Nate Logan is the author of Inside the Golden Days of Missing You (Magic Helicopter Press, 2019). He’s editor and publisher of Spooky Girlfriend Press and teaches at Marian University.

Further reading:

Purchase Inside the Golden Days of Missing You from Magic Helicopter Press
Read a review of Inside the Golden Days from Barrelhouse
Read Nate’s work in The Indianapolis Review and Rabid Oak

Riley Steiner graduated from Miami University, where she studied Creative Writing and Media & Culture. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, she enjoys baking, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, and spending way too much money at Half Price Books. Her creative work has recently appeared in the Oakland Arts Review and Collision.