Screenshot 2018-08-05 at 8.42.45 PM

Check out my poem “Gun Metal,” selected as the editor’s pick for poetry in the debut issue of Rhythm and Bones.

Listen to a recording of it here.

Gun Metal

by Ailey O’Toole


I am writing this poem

in my own spinal fluid.

I am all that is left.

How fast can I forget

that I’m alive? Ram

shackle girl spitting teeth

in the sink. I trace the

foreign topography of

my own body and find

God in my skin.

Tonight, I am allowed to be

the girl the men want me

to be. Look into my mouth,

this endless, angry thing.

You have no idea how much

I can consume.

Let me explain how nothing

ever changes, how it was the

gentlest of guttings, how I never

even said no. There was a time

when I would have stayed

and watched everything burn

around me, celebrated in the

decay, but what now?

They ask for details, so I give them

my body. They ask for proof, so I

give them my hands. If you cut me

open, you’ll find a body that was

buoyant in the face of darkness.

I have felt the living heat of things

most likely to kill me and decided

not to stay. I have built a cathedral

of malice and anemic bruises. Of

course it isn’t pretty. Nothing holy

ever is.

I think of all the ways I’ve been

taught to hide myself away and

I wonder who I will be

on the other side of this.

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