Emma Sullivan

Emma Jane Sullivan is a writer and artist living in Springfield, Missouri. She is currently teaching and studying in the Department of English at Missouri State University. She is currently working on a novel. This is her first publication.

Ode to My Left Ear

If I cut you off and mail you to a lover.
Promise to become a better listener.
Take notes and stay open.   If it happens today,
Remember, the last thing you heard was not me
Crying, saying things like, change is hard.
It would have been the welcome mat,
The one with a dumb slogan like, hello, beside
An image of Lional Richie’s sexy look. You spoke
The word aloud when you answered the first
Phone call. My lover oddly resembles Lional Richie
And might, after receiving my bloody ear, call it
a sexy look. I heard that a Jared Leto fan severed an ear
From their face, then mailed it to the American Psycho actor.
“I poked a hole in it, and wore it as a necklace,” Leto admits.
A meteorologist on a hotel bed remembers the quote,
And he tells us, laughing while leaning into his elbow.
Jay Leno wore a human’s ear around his neck?
I say in disbelief between bites of cheese pizza.
Leto, Jared Leto. My friend goes. The hot one
with a cult-like following, opposite to the late-night
host with a cameo in the Cars franchise.
I could have died in those giggles, but I stopped
To listen, with both of my ears still intact.

If I cut you off, dear left ear, and mail you to a lover,
The last thing you heard was the welcome mat
He dragged across the hardwood floor, Your friend
Decided to beat the dead insects and specks
Of dust out from the valleys of the coarse fabric.
Welcome back, welcome back your eyes scanned
The words over and over again, until they
Stung like a thousand honeybees.

You were getting good. You were getting really good.

Experts Say

it is best, when experiencing behavior issues
with your dog to take them on a long walk. I have,
after some time, started to see why this makes sense.
exhaust the mammal so it no longer has energy for destructive
tendencies. if I were not living in the twenty-first century
and did not have a semi-reliable Honda to releases black molecules
full of waste and harmful chemicals into the air, how would
I exhibit my behavior issues? all mental health experts
and psychologists have leaflets full of answers and explanations.
you are this way because you are not that way. the semi-gloss
matte used to print complex diagrams of the human psyche onto
those leaflets makes the heavy cardstock non-recyclable.
the paper has behavior issues, refusing to be repurposed.
there is an at-home remedy. I am sure. the expert that
answers my video call eats ice chips from a Red Solo Cup
the entire time I talk about my problems. the link to the portal
did not work the first two or three times, so she had to send
me the email again. eventually, the portal opened and thank
god. now my boyfriend can eavesdrop from the other room.
it’s just, I keep ripping into bags of sourdough bread and
cream cheese while he is at work. I also continue to talk about
my discontent when he gets home, and unfortunately, it feels
like he is tugging on the end of the rope. instead of standing
on my own two feet like a human, I growl from the toe-side of
his tube sock. if I were not living in the twenty-first century
and could not whisper prayers of gratitude after driving by
the scene of car accident, would I go out and hunt for destruction?
would I walk among abandoned homes and oddly love the taste
of dirty water against my throat as I lap it up? would the mice
and woodland creatures become my friends, all of us licking clean
the insides of empty food wrappers and calling it survival.
I have decided to stay silent and ignore all experts in hopes
that someday, someone will appear with a brand-new,
cappuccino sofa set I can tear into with my sharp teeth
the second they turn their back.


there is another person that figures
the sandwich will be tough to bite into and
the road will feel much shorter on the way back.
grief is a shoe, unlaced. all rocks look alike, but you are special.
this person knows that the long trench coat was made for you.
they adore the fit. they see it like a permanent blanket over the body.
the small scrapes in life will become part of the frayed quilt, still unfinished
apparently. the much larger problems will become the sunset, red and drippy.
this person knows the figure eight made with a pencil, encoding infinity
onto our schoolwork, for probable solutions and determination,
was not really to test knowledge, but to scaffold endurance.
this person would like to sleep inside warm thighs.
you have thighs. you have washed the green grapes.
they are ready to be plucked from their stem, rationed
like bad advice, then devoured in seconds.

there too, is a love out there. it is waiting for you, ripe and ready
to be plucked from its dry stem, and rationed, then devoured
only in seconds.

Hair Up, Hair Down

He likes G better with her hair down. The boy tells this to G. 

            G leaves her hair down and it gets caught in the blender. 

She is processing her emotions plus her thoughts about him acting out. 

            The other day, she sat down to write a poem, and pulled 

Back her thin lines of time, and he went, wow. He told G he likes her 

            Better with her hair up now. In a bun, a ponytail, or two braids. 

G could never say it, but she likes him with his hair all self-aware. 

            Hair that says thank you, and you look beautiful, but 

You are the most beautiful beside me. G likes her boyfriend best

With kind hair. Straight and to the point hair. Newton’s law

of gravity hair. What goes up must come back down hair. 

Isaac must have been staring at G’s straight, honey mane.

If G’s boy is not careful, Newton might steal his girl, but

G is concerned only with the words of Matthew, specifically

Matthew 5:5. The meek and gentle shall inherit the Earth. G reads

this to the boy. G hopes that the boy will love her like god loves her. 

Counting and loving each hair on her head. G raises a thick, wild

Strand of hair up to the light and she sees right through it. 

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN