Emily O’Neill


I don’t bother imagining angels unless they’re on spring break
in St. Pete’s: blunts and banana seat bicycles. Hotel rooms tiny
mildewed rats’ nests littered with Keystone cans. My angels sing Britney
singles in flat, nasal tones. They hustle pool. They’ll absolutely take you
home. They are topless, sitting on the bathroom sink, shifting their hips,
taunting, you’ll never get this pussy, and you want to prove them wrong
but it’s not important to touch. It’s not important to eat or sleep
or weigh which decision makes the most defensible sense.
My heaven is more reptile house than reward. No guard,
no gate. Just glare and heat and bodies.
Lie down on the white sand beach
and remember your skin.



           _after Lana Del Ray

Let’s go get sad. Cry the road wild.
Get down pouring rain blind, Montana

black as a doorjambed finger. Let’s choose
our last bad man at the next truck stop,

twist him like stem from cherry before the pie,
tear him from skin like a Band Aid.

The mountains are fallen women like we are.
I pray they keep me shameless. I know your wife

& she tastes like Pepsi-Cola. You left when she went
flat as North Dakota, when the radio ground its teeth

so hard the molars cracked. Your pretty baby is me
a decade younger, asleep in an American flag.

Our mothers forgot how to pray us good again. We grew up
scorched, are the same black smoke, burnt as the Badlands.

Last I heard my coast say come home I kept driving.
The horizon’s a donkey when it kicks us in the teeth.

We tumble past heart-shaped sunglasses or blue ribbon
anything. Outrun our shadows until we meet them new

on the other side of a wasted night
when the truck seizes & I pledge

allegiance to my dad with every whiskey swallow.
Gold coins of light. Trip sevens. Las Vegas, like hell,

is just south of now. How many times
can we die embalmed in stars?



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