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,

(Editor's Note: Originally published in Empowerment4Women in 2008, also nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2009)

It’s not like
She’s never tasted fire
It had engulfed her, forcing her skin to blister
Flames whipped up in the folds of her skirt
Smoke smothered her face
Flames chewed her eyelashes to the root
Her tonsils singed she couldn’t always


She had stood in a burning storm that turned her sky to ash

It wasn’t that she couldn’t take the heat
(She had a metal lock box for her vital organs)
It was simply time
To stop burning

She makes graves for cinders
She’ll never write her stories in charcoal

(It’s okay – just time to go)


Dawn christens her forehead
She wrings out the fabric
Of a million black nights
Hanging on the line
It will face an infant day

Squeezing her hand
To make a fist
The pink knuckles reveal cracks
Red blood seeps into the white of her skin
It soaks into the gauze covering the wound

Who called a cease-fire?
And why didn’t I get the memo?
Pony express and carrier pigeons
Came to relieve the night duty

(Now you can sleep)

Comb the pain from the cloth
Not the wisdom gained
From bitten lips and dilated pupils
Misery sits like oil on water
Pour it off

(Don’t worry – the fat of her past is in her hips)

She pulls her hair down
From the rubber-band that held it
Snaps loose into cascades
Waves that are free
Time to keep moving on