The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ghost Dogs by Dion O’Reilly


All the Hungry Falcons

Appetite makes them keen
when they scan the tunneled field
for shivers in the dead grass.
Their vision sharpens, pupils dilate.
From a mile away, they see
their feed, and they take it.
All my life, I’ve stowed my stories
like a box of banned books
under the bed. Each one, unforgiven,
an arc of trouble and want.
They quicken my hunger
for what I’ll never have
or never have again—
a mother mainly, certain men,
but a sister and brother too, a city
I walked in with hot paper cups,
my lips foamed with cappuccino
as it rained and rained.
Oh, the world feels tidal
when I get like this, when l can’t stop
hunting for something intimate and filling.
I see it lift from the soil.
The sun, a muzzle flash,
turning the meadow bright, burning
off the haze. I soar in, see it magnified,
everything itself only more so.

This selection comes from Ghost Dogs, available from Terrapin Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sunni Brown Wilkinson.

Dion O’Reilly’s first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her work appears in Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Narrative, Sugar House Review, New Letters, New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Sun, and other literary journals and anthologies. She facilitates ongoing poetry workshops in a farmhouse full of wild art and is a member of the Hive Poetry Collective which produces radio shows, podcasts, and events in Santa Cruz. (dionoreilly.wordpress.com)
@dionoreilly

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, SWWIM, Crab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache & The Wing (forthcoming 2021, winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize).  She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat Literary Magazine. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ghost Dogs by Dion O’Reilly


Ghost Dogs

Two hundred pounds apiece,
with strong bodies, great black heads,
and sad, sagging faces, they were my companions
through the long years of childhood.
Mastiffs. Herds of them—
studs, a handful of bitches, scores of puppies.
Bored, in dusty clumps, they guarded the driveway,
pulling themselves up
onto oversized padded feet
to trail my horse through the hills,
then—with surprising speed—racing
up deer trails in futile pursuit
of coyotes or bobcats.

My friends risked stitches in their thighs
by knocking on the door,
and when the proud cars of boyfriends pulled up—
a gleaming ’68 Camaro, a convertible Bel Aire—
the pack ambushed them,
ferocious muzzles breathing steam,
drooling on the windows.

Now, all these years after leaving home,
I miss the dogs,
how formidable they were,
negotiating between me
and the world. I have
no silent creature at my side
to touch on her wrinkled brow,
no coiled animal to summon,
in love and ready to die.

This selection comes from Ghost Dogs, available from Terrapin Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sunni Brown Wilkinson.

Dion O’Reilly’s first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her work appears in Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Narrative, Sugar House Review, New Letters, New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Sun, and other literary journals and anthologies. She facilitates ongoing poetry workshops in a farmhouse full of wild art and is a member of the Hive Poetry Collective which produces radio shows, podcasts, and events in Santa Cruz. (dionoreilly.wordpress.com)
@dionoreilly

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, SWWIM, Crab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache & The Wing (forthcoming 2021, winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize).  She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat Literary Magazine. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ghost Dogs by Dion O’Reilly


Afterlife

In the hot summers of childhood,
we waded a mile in the river—
you, up against the current,
and I, down toward the sea.
And we screamed like bloody birds,
so before we met at the bend,
I heard your calls strafe the air.

And then we stood, face to face,
at a fattening of the river,
next to a beach, rough with granite and quartz,
minnows’ lips on our legs,
a cold ache in our feet,
shadows of water skeeters—
like bunches of black grapes—
flickering along the floor.

Suzie, I never lost you
through the brutal climb
of our twenties, our failed marriages,
your treks to Kauai, your plummets
down the ski runs of Bear Valley.
When we’d meet, you’d kiss me on the lips,
tell me Schnapps cured a cold,
say you liked waking up higher,
close to the sun,
so you settled in gold country,
waiting tables and selling real estate—
then, at fifty-four, you were gone,
your stomach full of bourbon and Oxycontin.

I still live on the same stream-cut terrace
high above the dwindling creek.
Your mom’s old house on the floodplain-—
sold—full of strangers.
I wish I could tell you how seldom
I go to the bottomland, how there are gates
on the trails, and the land, disgruntled,
sends up walls of slick poison oak.
How the herons lift and glide away, legs trailing,
their calls on the wind.

This selection comes from Ghost Dogs, available from Terrapin Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sunni Brown Wilkinson.

Dion O’Reilly’s first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her work appears in Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Narrative, Sugar House Review, New Letters, New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Sun, and other literary journals and anthologies. She facilitates ongoing poetry workshops in a farmhouse full of wild art and is a member of the Hive Poetry Collective which produces radio shows, podcasts, and events in Santa Cruz. (dionoreilly.wordpress.com)
@dionoreilly

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, SWWIM, Crab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache & The Wing (forthcoming 2021, winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize).  She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat Literary Magazine. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons. 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ghost Dogs by Dion O’Reilly


Insides

On cold mornings, as he stropped his blade
on the wand of the whetstone,
the butcher would tell me how he loved
warming his hands inside a steaming beast,
and I, a child, held out for him
the steel bucket for the bull’s heart,
big as a rugby ball, still beating,
its convent of small passages, matrixed
with muscle and stiff fat. I carried it,
with the vast plain of liver,
the kidneys and pimply tongue—
three trips at least—through the wet
vetch and bees, bringing every bit
of this bounty to my mother
to fry in butter—quick—
before the raw power waned.

This selection comes from Ghost Dogs, available from Terrapin Books. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Sunni Brown Wilkinson.

Dion O’Reilly’s first book, Ghost Dogs, was published in February 2020 by Terrapin Books. Her work appears in Cincinnati Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Narrative, Sugar House Review, New Letters, New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Sun, and other literary journals and anthologies. She facilitates ongoing poetry workshops in a farmhouse full of wild art and is a member of the Hive Poetry Collective which produces radio shows, podcasts, and events in Santa Cruz. (dionoreilly.wordpress.com)
@dionoreilly

Sunni Brown Wilkinson’s poetry can be found in Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, SWWIM, Crab Orchard Review and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of The Marriage of the Moon and the Field (Black Lawrence Press 2019, finalist for the Hudson Prize) and The Ache & The Wing (forthcoming 2021, winner of Sundress’s 2020 Chapbook Prize).  She also won New Ohio Review’s NORward Poetry Prize and the 2020 Joy Harjo Prize from Cutthroat Literary Magazine. She teaches at Weber State University and lives in northern Utah with her husband and three sons.