Rachel Wiley

But They Say I Will Not Make It


When you are fat (and I am fat)

the streets are full of soothsayers telling you how you will die.

They all seem so anxious for my heart

like it is an unattended package at the airport, my heart

so I move thru the world listening for my heart

like it must be a clock swallowed by a crocodile


a canary that goes silent much too late


They are certain it is going to attack, my heart

like a hungry bear on a camp ground

ripping a zipper down my chest,

cracking my sternum like a cheap tent pole

No, wait

I am not at all sorry for my size

so I must be a barge

which would make my heart a fish washed onto the deck

GaspingFloppingSlamming scales off of its body

like an angry beauty queen ripping sequins from a dress that didn’t sparkle enough to win

but that would make my heart a beauty queen who can’t walk in heels



My heart is an hour glass filled with gunpowder

and at any moment some wild spark is gonna blow me sky high

and maybe this is why I love like I do

with teeth and swallow and song and snarl and water and sparkle and consequence.

Why I show up to your front door out of breath and full of dazzle like this is the last ballyhoo

and nothing can wait till the morning

Forgive me,

they keep telling me that my heart is not my heart

they keep telling me that I am dying

this might be our last chance.





Your sweetest love asks to borrow some silence

and as if on cue all of the forgotten hurts, preserved in previous canning seasons,

begin to erupt in the cellar.

Every lidded mouth full & pickled with insecurity gives over to the swell of rancid things

pushed into the dark for much too long

an exorcism of jarred ghosts,

an oozing display of fireworks coating the mud-damp walls in a layer of vinegary mistrust.

As you apologize for the noise and promise to keep this messy doubt from sullying the peace you’ve promised him

An especially potent wound rockets thru the floorboards trailing a comet of sour molasses & lands on your patient love’s lap-still whistling from the pressure.



Sleeping Giants


For Leo, For Myself, For Anyone who has ever been too big to truly be seen


There are so many stories that demand the giant must be felled

that the small are righteous and deserving of all they can take from the massive beast

that all the golden things are up for grabs

that the riches must’ve been ill gotten to begin with

You colossus

You behemoth

You titian

You who can shoulder the very earth

who are you to alter this narrative?

They’re already out here looking for ways to discredit regular survivors

You make it too easy

Your body is its own defamation

They’ll say you are too big to have been raped

That victim is not a shirt that comes in your size

They’ll laugh at the idea of you being overtaken

say you are too much mountain for anyone to move

They’ll say you have so much weight to place behind your No

say one flick of your massive wrist would’ve cbrought the whole thing to a stop

They’ll say that you must have wanted it

That in fact, you are a monster of wanting

Your mammoth body laid out as evidence

for the way it feasts so greedily on the space around it

They’ll say you stand a lighthouse of untruth in search of attention

a bitter leviathan,

and anyone who toppled you earned that conquering,

that they must be a knight, an Argonaut,

a future king coming for your severed head

Your truth sounds too much like thunder

Frightens the whole village

frightens them into taking up torches and pitchforks

a swarm to chase you to the edge of the cliff

a mob come to tether you to the earth to pluck out your eyes

for what they refuse to see

they’d sooner pry open your mouth for the gold fillings

than take your word

That you were but a sleeping giant

who was not awakened nor deemed worthy

for something golden as consent.



My Whiteness Hits on Me in a Bar


You’re welcome.

You hear me?

I said you’re welcome

for those eyes

like your mother’s

stolen sapphires

when you could’ve had your father’s mud puddles

You’re welcome

They make you look so innocent

So trusting

Don’t forget I got you that troubleless hair too

The same hair that got you a good job

or at least didn’t keep you from one

You really should be more grateful

Your skin is default nude

Default skin tone

No one assumes you are uneducated

I do that.

For you.

For Us.

All of us

This ruling race of us

Which is better than them

Which deserves more than them

Is it so hard to show a little gratitude?

It’s a compliment,

The way the cops won’t doubt you/ press your face into the dirt

The way bullets won’t hunt your light skin/your pink cheeks

The way I built this place a bomb shelter for your

Stop fighting for some part of you no one can see/wants to see

Stop fighting for people that don’t look like you

You got real lucky, girl

Don’t you feel lucky?

Don’t you love the way I’ve made all of this easy for you

You should show me how much you love it

Show me with those colored girl lips you ended up with

Kneel for me like you’re scrubbing a floor-I know you know how

That’s in your blood

I haven’t forgotten that you pass

maybe you forgot though

that I am the one who crowned you queen of the paper bag prom

but that can be our little secret

All you have to do is relax

and let it happen.





Femme Visibility


My queerness is not unlike a cat on a leash.

It’s awkward,

people don’t always understand why it’s happening

or how it works

but it’s not hurting anyone

so it goes mostly unbothered

The difference is that you can see a cat on a leash.



Mixed Girl


After Angel Nafis and Terrance Hayes


Mixed Girl, White Mother

Mixed Girl, Black Father

Yes, really

Mixed Girl, White Mother’s Hair

Mixed Girl, Black Father’s Lips

Mixed Girl patient while you pick and choose what’s ethnic enough/exotic enough

Mixed Girl sighs through tired jokes about how she only gets half of Martin Luther King Day off of work

Mixed Girl, White Mother’s Guilt

Mixed Girl, Black Father’s Survival

Mixed Girl, Survivor’s Guilt

Mixed Girl, Passing

Mixed Girl wonders if it’s called passing because something dies inside each time

Mixed Girl carries her blackness like Peter Pan’s shadow shot down and stitched desperately back to her heels


Mixed Girl also Fat

Yes, Fat

Fat, Mixed Girl, reconciled the word fat

Fat, Mixed Girl passes slowly, a heavy drop of water

Fat, Mixed Girl passes race but not weight limits

Fat, Mixed Girl sighs through tired jokes about Black Men loving fat white women

Fat, Mixed Girl living punchline


Fat, Mixed Girl also Queer

Yes, Really

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl’s Pronouns are She/Her/ Your Majesty

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl femme

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl triple threat invisible

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl double agents as Straight Shameful White Lady

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl sighs through tired jokes about greed as sexual orientation

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl admits to having only had relationships with cis-men

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl no less attracted to women tho

no less attracted to non-binary beauty tho

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl probably thinks you’re cute

Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl probably wants to make out with you

Yes, you



Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl is a Feminist

No shit.

Yes, Feminist


Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl is full body intersection

Feminist, Queer, Fat Mixed Girl has one common enemy

Feminist, Queer, Fat, Mixed Girl’s passing whiteness

passing straightness

passing weakness

makes her

a conceal carry revolt

Feminist, Queer, Fat Mixed Girl aims to gut the white supremacist patriarchy

and rouge her cheeks with his blood

Feminist, Queer, Fat Mixed Femme Girl knows he will never see her coming





I promise,

I have tried every method the body zealots insist will make me worthy

the loathing

the withholding

the pain

the castigation

the flagellation

the suppression

the obey



and still

I am this feral landscape

an orchard of gluttonous fruit trees

and was cast from the paradise of my body by the shame Gods

banished from reveling in my own flourish

rolling hills

secret valleys

the tree trunk thighs

heavy sugar apple breasts.

I am sick for the springs I missed while exiled into my head

as though a country separate from fleshy hips

It cost me years of knowing my own clay

And now that I have clawed my way back into this Eden

I intend to bask

O’ I intent to feast.


Rachel Wiley got escorted off of a city bus this summer for nearly fighting a cat caller but she’s got that 31 Day bus pass so she just hopped on another one and made it home before the ice cream melted. She is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. Her work has previously been featured on Everyday Feminism, The Huffington Post, and Upworthy. She is the author of a full-length collection from Timber Mouse Publishing entitled, Fat Girl Finishing School. She is the co-founder and co-host of the monthly Columbus Queer Open Mic & Social Hour.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *