Coping Mechanisms By Ailey O’Toole

Coping Mechanisms

After “letter from my heart to my brain” by Rachel McKibbens

It’s okay to build a home
for yourself inside your
head, even if all the furniture
is glued to the ceiling. It’s
okay to lighthouse your
tongue in the mouths of
strangers on the bus if
that’s what you need to do.

It’s okay to sing the opera
of your hollow, all knifepoint
and smoke inhalation. It’s
okay to imagine your heart
as heavy as lead, as a phantom
limb, as a somber thud.

It’s okay to want something
after trying to give everything
away. It’s okay to slice the
pie into uneven pieces and
serve it at the party. It’s okay
to do what it takes to be
present while leaving. It’s
okay to feel dead despite
your pulse.

It’s okay to shriek
to sprint to crush
to splinter to pull
to tremble to break
and break and break
and break and
break and

It’s okay to not want
anything. It’s okay to despise
your mother for these
genes. It’s okay to wish
you were just yourself,
and not somebody’s someone.

By Ailey O’Toole


Ailey O’Toole is a 22-year-old bartender and writer who writes about feminism, empathy, and pain. Her work has previously appeared in After the Pause, The Broke Bohemian, The Odyssey, and is forthcoming from the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. She hopes everyone who reads her poems feels a little less alone in their struggle. You can follow her adventures at @ms_ocoole.


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