Ailey O’Toole

Difficult at Parties

my trauma is
a day dream / fever screams
sugar cube house / crumbling
thought up / in catatonia
my trauma is this body
an antipodal pilgrimage / scrambled
egg sealed back / in its shell
never still
enough to grasp
my trauma is burning
my bones / despite
the ash / a reverie
of dust / not enough
landmarks for a map
my trauma is a forgiveless
child / bits of myself always
becoming / foreign currency
exchanged for grief / demanding
I give it a name
my trauma is trying
to remember / how fast
we moved / how dark
it went


Ailey O'Toole is a queer poet and bartender who writes about feminism, empathy and pain. She hopes everyone who reads her poems feels less alone in their struggle. Her work has previously appeared in or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost City Review, Okay Donkey and others. She tweets @ms_ocoole.