Emily O’Neill’s “Work”



timecard won’t match
watch face or hands so
we are constantly
                                   re-setting

                         here: capital letters / serif / bold

            In the city, money shouts at me
            to get off the lawn of the Public Gardens
            so I don’t ruin expensive grass for the tourists.
            Newbury Street is leaking & the swans know (& I know)
            I’m as alien as their impossible necks.

paycheck won’t catch
& hold to me like sweat so I sweat until my clothes are sick
of me / I can’t tell when to run
or when to be an iron rail
                                                           shrieking

                         here: the trains are only as angry
                         as I pretend I’m not

            yolk spills down my callused fingers
            & poppyseeds stick in my crooked teeth & I, middle
            child, am the ugly wad of gum dogging a leather sole
            stay stay stay / there’s endless evidence proving
            I’m common so I say I am common
            & it’s the only way to charm
            a larger tip into the jar

timeloss is a word they use
for man dragged into machine
& spat out as a fifty-foot smear / my father
told me casualty is often called incident
& we’ll never be the ones to decide
which headstone grounds us