"'I'm tired of tasting pennies...,'" "Crushed," and "Are We Just Ignoring that We Went Four Months Without Speaking..."

I stick my fingers down my throat / to singe my lips with vomit / then I lick them. / Taste my insides, bitter as pennies left out in the rain”
-Sarah McMahon


I’m tired of tasting pennies
trying to forget
my throat in his hands
or how he told me
you look prettiest like this
and pulled my hair.

Three months later
I cut it all off.

I am afraid of my feminine now
and I know I was he before him
but I can’t help but wonder
if I left my womanhood in his hands

Some days, I try to claw him out of my throat
with the breakfast I didn’t want.
And I am old enough to know that won’t solve anything
but young enough to wonder
if fifteen fewer pounds could have kept me safe that night.

Copper sears my insides
alone in the bathroom
desperate for control




I am all smoke and shifting seasons
crushed pack of American Spirits in my back pocket
we are weak-knee wasted
outside my apartment
vodka-veiled memories all I have of that night

“This is my hardest year” he explains
and I am trying to listen
trying to anchor myself to this earth
trying to think about anything but the last boy I smoked them with

I choke on the smoke
                               the way he choked me

I try to push the thought from my head
try to listen to the story
try to tell this boy, who is a good person,
about my piece-missing jigsaw puzzle heart, the boy I am,
the crashingcacophony of my thoughts on the worst days

There is a keg,
in a home that i have never been to
familiar faces.
lighthearted laughter
and I am staring at his mouth
thinking about kissing him.
confused–I have never loved a body like his



Are We Just Ignoring that We Went Four Months Without Speaking, or Reparations over Rice Noodles, or Am I Supposed to Pretend to Be Okay Now? 

For Chris


We are the only people in this restaurant, maybe because it is 3:30 on a Wednesday during midterms and no one has time to leave campus. Shit. Even I don’t have time for this, but I met him here, because he asked me to. Deafening silence filling the space between us and I don’t even know why we’re here. He is staring at the soy sauce, clearly trying to gather courage to say something. The waitress returns, with a tray; two pairs plastic chopsticks, two orders vegetarian noodles. Silence broken when “We need to start over” finally whispered. I am baseball-through-a-window shattered (and I don’t even know what he means) he is still talking; saying something about boundaries and restarting.

“Let’s just eat lunch, and go from there” handing me chopsticks before picking up his own. Laughs when tofu slips through three times, smiles as if to say “I don’t judge you” before reaching across table top uncross here and press harder here. His hand guiding mine to correct form.

We talk about poetry, the play he wrote this summer, the responsibility of performance poets, and content warnings. He asks what I plan to do after graduation, listens as I rant about having no fucking clue. Deep breath. His eyes light up when I ask about the Pacific Northwest.  Listen to his passionate ramblings about the indigenous people, and the pipeline the government is building on their land. “No one could own land, just like no one owns the sky”.



Meghan O'Hern

Meghan O'Hern received her BA in English and creative writing from Bradley University, Illinois in 2017. Her work centers on feminism, identity, and mental health. More of her work can be found on Facebook at Meghan O'Hern Poetry. Her first chapbook is Rising from the Ashes (Weasel Press, 2017).


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, June 11, 2017 - 22:23