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. 

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. 

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

This is a Man-fractured Land

Sidewalks replete with
roving red-eyes,
swindlers who swarm
our daughters, slip
into their ear buds,
caress their baby faces,
lull them into dreams of
the perfect
Still-life in Bloom.

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

Hospitals are Great Places to Visit

  1. You do not want to enter but she has you by the throat.
    At this point, you are not armed.
  2. Rose-colored building, 1950s art deco, long white
    hallways, smells like under the kitchen cabinet, smells
    like under a limey rock, smells like dirty handkerchiefs,
    smells like dark cavities.
  3. A head on a white plate. A nurse holding it up by its
    greasy tendrils, spooning yellow mash on to the cracked
    pavement tongue. Watch the mash seep out onto the white
    plate. Watch the bag underneath the bed fill with mud.
  4. A room with pale blue walls, dirty blue, corrosive blue,
    pewter, blue that makes you want to weep, blue that
    makes you want to bang your head.
  5. Listen as she chatters and clicks around the room in three-inch
    heels: How about some air in here! Have you been
    watching the French Open? Are you comfortable? Would
    you like me to turn on the light? The doctor certainly
    seems nice. I’m sorry we’re so late. We brought you some
    ice cream. Do you think you can stomach some ice cream?
  6. Laugh. Asking a dying man…
  7. Duck tomahawk glare.
  8. Thirty years pass. Visit various heads in beds including
    but not limited to: your autistic aunt, your homeless
    uncle, your agoraphobic grandmother.
  9. Do Not Touch. Each one has been carefully preserved in cellophane.
  10. Arm yourself.
  11. Your cat should have known better than to stare you down.
  12. Killer heels.
  13. You will be frisked.
  14. A cylinder in back catches some of the black effluvium and another one underneath catches the rest.
  1. Did you watch the U.S. Open last night? Did you read
    the life section today? I think I need a cup of coffee. Is
    anyone ever going to change the garbage? Didn’t you
    see this coming? I saw this coming. I’ve always known
    how this would end.

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

On the Train I Thought of Chagall

I saw a long line of cars.

I saw a big white house.

The ground was mottled

and abraded like

the back of a buffalo.

I saw a chicken coop,

a muddy ditch,

the padded cell

of the sky.

I saw a hunting blind,

ratcheting arms,

coal silos,

sand silos,

yards like ratty bath

mats, abandoned

sand boxes.

No green man.

No benevolent cow.

No villagers whistling

and hoisting sickles.

No multi-colored houses.

No woman waltzing

on the wind, Chagall.

It was the morning after,

the tough rows to hoe,

the scrub brush of babies

and midnight feedings,

Kansas before the witch’s

stockings and the wizard’s

charade. No tree of life,

just my chalky fingers

on the window pane,

just my face pressed

against the glass.

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.