• Image of "Make a Fist & Tongue the Knuckles" by Emily O'Neill

Emily O'Neill’s "Make a Fist & Tongue the Knuckles" comes prepared to finish the burial, sharing knives made from ruin to acknowledge the monsters dwelling in ourselves and others.

The boys in Emily O'Neill's poems are softies but act like they're bad. The girls, however, don't pretend: "Leave marks or I don't learn." These poems fill with sensory data, knives and joy and fury, then zip past you at breakneck speed like the brightest fastest ride on the boardwalk. There is no standing still.
–Niina Pollari, Dead Horse (Birds LLC)

To hear a version of yourself in the confessional—uncleaning a body much like your own. “I’m terrible / at math & monogamy, / but I try exquisitely.” It’s hard for me not to see Emily O’Neill’s poems as glowing, iridescent on the page—the dark of the pool after midnight with its cold water lapping at the edges. “There are ways to get lost properly.” But intimacy isn’t as simple as a freckle colony or a hip surfacing from the tightest pair of jeans. The want or need to hold that stranger’s hand as they lead you further into the bar. What I mean is O’Neill isn’t the tongue or the fist. She’s the hand. To properly read these poems requires an honest look at yourself with no apologies to be made. “Unburden your knuckles / of expectation. Undress…” What I mean is, toast to these poems at your next awful brunch.
–Alexis Pope, That Which Comes After (Big Lucks)