Lucky Like That

          after Terrence Malick’s Badlands

A lot of women love you, mad
little thing. Pistol shoved in your pocket
like a wallet. Can’t be poor when you’re a killer.
Can’t be poor when there’s fish in the river
standing still after the hammer falls or the girl
you picked up off her porch like a milk bottle.
She’s freckling in the front seat. Reading aloud.
Rumor: Frank Sinatra & Rita Hayworth are in love.
Fact: They are, but not with each other. Imagine them
dancing in salvaged boots or bare feet. A lot of women
never read the comics. Can’t say no to strays.
If Daddy shoots her dog. If the house peels apart
as it burns. Can’t be poor when there’s a Cadillac
waiting for your hands on the wheel. See what you want
& it’s yours, easy. Talk your way across the prairie.
This isn’t Texas anywhere except at your temples.
Where the sun lives. Where the smoke gathers.
Your redhead unraveling in handcuffs, in the salt grass.
Your frown lines. Your James Dean. You’re bad enough.
Can’t be poor when even the cops beg for a souvenir.

Emily O'Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Five Quarterly, Profane, and Split Rock Review, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of Yes Yes Books' Pamet River Prize and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit. You can pick her brain @tabernacleteeth or