Poet as Doctor

I don’t know how to heal
a body. I just know the heat
of sounds that make a body feel
better. Suck on sycamore
like a candied cough drop.
For a tooth ache, take the word
decide and douse it in ice.
Bite down until the soreness
subsides. Mutter mahogany
for nagging knee pain, vetiver
for when your vision fades.
Small gasps of lavender,
lavender as you lay your head
in insomnia’s lap and let it stroke
strands of your sweaty hair. Just
avoid the lulling temptation of l’s
in short bursts—love and lust
and other words that cut the tongue.
They are as useless as bloodletting.


Poet as Historian

I’m not a historian, but I could tell you
which sounds hold the stories of all our
surroundings. To chart the pink rivers

of progress as they scurry from shore
to shore to supermarket store, stutter
over the golden syllable of grain.

If that’s too easy, peel the growl off
the vowels until you’re left with rain.

To better understand all the bridges
ever built—our fear of still-standing
water—whisper the warm hum of womb

until your throat opens, until
hunger and honey taste the same.

Crop rot, crop rot to see how disease
disrupted the slow burn of our bodies,
asked us to turn to the warmest
shades of orange: turmeric and tangerine,

the fruits we fussed over before the threat
of drought trickled down our skin like sweat.

Ignore words like power and fear,
family or primrose when defending
turrets and trenches, all the structures
we’ve stretched to live and die in,

and all the blue floral arrangements
in between. When you want to explain

how easily we’ve slipped into so many
wars, just say worship, worship
until you’re lips are chapped and worn.


To the Woman Who Trolled Me on Twitter about Title IX

You said, “It takes a Feminist
to kill a Feminist,” not realizing
you had implicated yourself.

No matter.

You probably also believe
it takes fire to fight fire.
I blame the Bible for this:
“an eye for an eye, a tooth

for a tooth.”

Maybe you once knew
a man who had to
stand before a jury,
falsely accused, not
knowing what to do.

Sure, it has happened.

But I could show you
dozens of women I know,
drugged, bodies draped
over beds and back seats,

raped and never once believed.

Maybe you yourself were once
deceived into a denial
by the very men you now try
to defend.

It happens all the time.

It takes far less than a Feminist
to kill us, and did you know
that before God co-opted
this phrase that raises so many
hands in the name of violent

justice, it more truly meant

“Only one eye for one eye.”
It was never about wreckage
or revenge. It always was
about minimizing loss.


Emily Paige Wilson’s debut chapbook “I’ll Build Us a Home” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been nominated for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and two Pushcart Prizes. Her work can be found in The Adroit JournalThe Boiler Journal, Hayden’s Ferry ReviewPANK, and Thrush, among others. She lives in Wilmington, NC, where she received her MFA from UNCW, and works as an English adjunct.