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Emily Sperber

You Ask What Represents Me

It could be the dust that covers
my belongings because a person
is just what they bring with them.
And I have more dust than stuff.

Who knows — it could be my hair,
my fingernails and toenails, my skin
over a scab. Parts of me that decide
to grow back without me having to ask.

Maybe rooms. I always seem
to end up in rooms. Keep things 
in rooms. Put my words into 
rooms so I know where they are.

I wouldn’t mind if this was it —
these words — that represented me.
I’ve never been good at choosing
one thing. Ask my mother, ask my sister.

I do hope none of this makes it to my 
grave. The saying goes: you can’t bring
it with you. Well I know what it’s not
and that’s my money, my loose change.

It’s what ends up on your tombstone.
Consider this my last will and 
testament to borrow from Dorothy
Parker and “excuse my dust.”


Be Careful with the Math Haiku Series


Til I’m on fire
with your water, I always
ask for it too soon.


Count On Me Too

“no hard feelings”
of course not, darling
all mine are soft



My heart’s been ground at
so much, my edges are smooth.
Call me well-rounded.


Long End/Short End

We took the short sticks
we drew and made a fire
that kept us warm, kind.


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Yes, the sky tells us the moon is full

so, yes, it must be time for a change.

I wish there was something beautiful

about making decisions, being onstage

in an empty room. It’s just me

rearranging my apartment to another

apartment, job to job (three

in one year), lover to lover.

And a billboard or a prayer

or a woman’s sign in the street said

it’s okay to feel sad after the fair

choice is made. But I hope I don’t dread

the right decision. I feel it in my heart-gut.

It’s stuck in my throat like a chestnut.

“NJ man finds large pearl in his clam at popular restaurant”

title of an article published in United Press International, Feb. 28, 2022

If I were a princess, an abandoned gas station would be my ball.

My carriage would be a broken down Subaru,

an oxymoron because Subarus never break down (knock on wood).

I don’t need to go anywhere anyway,

I’m already here, nobody’s expecting me at home.

My dress, I’m glad you asked, well I wouldn’t wear a dress 

because I can never find the right length for my height and 

my fairy godmother is decidedly absent.

I won’t sparkle but I never meant to.

Pants, I’ll wear pants.

They come with their own motivational aphorism:

one leg at a time.

Maybe the blinking marquee could try spelling out

happily ever after and I’d try believing it.


(someone once told me I was a pearl, not a princess

it was supposed to be sweet

but it made me hidden

it made me something you bite and not chew

something to take off at the end of the day

it made me sad for the shell

how empty it would be without me,

me without it,

then I remembered that shell was the name

of a gas station and that) I was late for the ball

Emily Sperber is currently a bookseller in Seattle, WA with a degree in Creative Writing from Willamette University in Salem, OR. She has had two short stories published and anthologized by Owl Canyon Press as well as poems published by Rattle and Blacklist Journal. You can find her reading more than writing on Instagram @emilymayebe

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