semantikon feature literature
June 2009:
Emily Habermehl
1. Fire
2. Banners
3. My Head
4. Mexican Cemetaries
5. Toads
6. A Soldier and an Unmade Bed
7. The Cigarette girl, the Sow and the Mermaid
8. Is This Thing On?
9. Raisins and Prunes (Reduced for Quick Sale)
Emily Jean Habermehl was born in Philadelphia and has called Austin home since 2001.  She has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old and currently works as a licensed social worker for a large non-profit agency.  She received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007.  You can read more of her work at:
emily habermehl broadside poster
Download June 2009
Broadside Poster
About Artist:

emily habermehl, poet, essayist, pushcart prize, friscoshoes, brambles, austin, texas, pennsylvania,

The Cigarette Girl, the Sow and the Mermaid

Cigarette girl apologizes
For not having your brand
Could’ve sworn it was in this tray
Fingertips scrape the bottom and sure enough
No cellophane wrapped boxes
She’s let you down again
Can’t produce what you want
(Don’t ask her what she’s good for)

(Oh cigarette girl, don’t scald that tender tongue tip
Taking a sip of coffee - the temp you can’t predict)

She gnaws her lower lip and thinks:
Next time, each finger could be sheathed in a thimble


If you look in the corner of her mouth
A crust collects like old memories
You can see
She once was a pregnant sow sunburned
Blistered pink hide, cracked like your heel
Dead fetal piglet inside her
Agony until the expunge

(Could a death-birth set her free?)

Burrow back far enough and recall...
Somewhere there is a mermaid
Reclining on a water-washed stone
Her aqueous tangible fins lavishly take up space
Because they can
A deep green sea offers all
She doesn’t need to provide anything
Right now


But if you ask, they’ll all agree
There was always more she could have done