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Poetry by Kathleen O’Neill



Trudge past the mud, feet cut inside sheepskin. One more
step past almond trees will get you there. The leather
strap of the serviceman's post box is pulling you back

Don't breathe. This cold miasma can't be chronic.

Burnt orange jewels calculate from a distance. Gleaming
phases, a little beacon. Inter-communication is
rife between the mineral.

They're waiting. They don't know I ripped this box off 
the officer's body. Stealing is much easier after a hatpin
happens by a C3.

The Comfort of Unripe Fruit

I laid you down as the chaston on that bed;
cream-yellow and amaranthine glinting everywhere.
I've opened your rough hands like
a lobster-clasp; I broke open your
neckband and the square pendant melted in my hand.

The dawn is red; a svelte girlish lion lays 
like a sphinx as I pass. 

Her touch was death. She spattered it everywhere;
you've got to admire the thoroughness.


The blue sky melts off into the short grasses,
rustling green with the wind; that ocelot steps past quietly.
The trees almost smell like cordite.

I woke up in a tree. I threw this postcard down to a mailman
traveling by. The singing green boughs hmmed around me,
pensive and reserved. They sway as they think. 

I realized my purpose, I'm waiting for you. I'll get a bead 
eventually, and take my shot. Just like that fateful 
moment, bronzed and octaved.

You can barely see the colors of the world below; just chalky 
grey or a painter's palette tipped on its side. A blur.

I aucupate here, and you approach. You can go any speed
you like; I've got folly. 

Not everyone has forgotten what we did
during that war. 

I will hunt you down.

Spilled Tea

From hip to shoulder
I want you to wear my torque, over and over,
squares of peat encased in brass, linked
The past weighs down on you, on me
so inexorable and light
I am afraid we will forget its oppression
and give in.

The gamboge sky is a warning.


That strip of cloth is mordant red. I'd 
wrestle it, but who wants to be alone?
Such a deceptive slip of cloth laid out
over velvet cream skin.
My little secret flame.

Touches you lay over yourself say it all.
It's autonomous, a cryptex of brocade and cambric
and tells
your fears.

We're lucky we haven't crossed yet;
don't cut your
hands on things you're not ready for.

Burn a porcupine needle and put
the grey soft sand in 
cedar bark. 

Don like a scarf; now batter my heart. I'm 

A Handful of Rubies

My love slinks over the pale, dim stretch of
the top of his forearm. I need an ice
pack—he deserves to be armed.

I have a feeling this is going
to be more than a conflagration—
he will die of exposure. 

What is feeling but to endure the passion of suffering? We
will break our crests into pieces
and mix those crumbs. 

A hart made of ivory and sapphires; a boar made of silver and pearls.
All these devices hop up off their livery and intermingle.
Our new standard will be deadly.

It will be one to watch: we are immiscible.
I know he can tell. I agree
in our silent signless language,
merely the unfortunate side-effect 
of this transport. 

For the—galvanic—charge, to be enrapt, any price is worth it. I'll 
let my viper slip away.


Kathleen O'Neil went to McGill University and volunteers for several organizations. Her interests are in travel and Etruscan cave tombs. She is a perfume enthusiast and enjoys the books of Frances Parkinson Keyes.