Michael Phelan O'Toole

MEDIAted Catharsis From A Multi-Faceted Artist



POEM: “Blood, Read” – 3/7/2012 by Michael Phelan O’Toole (DRAFT)

I decaffienated all of my hatred

now there’s no high to slitting a low vein;

a metaphor for uncontrolled words on paper.
Call it “Hate read.”
“Why, why, why?”
The pain is linked, like a chain.
I kept pulling at my t-shirt thread…
Bleeding from the eye of a hurricane,
I cauterizred the wounds,
by pursuing the good news of
dispensing with the old;
daze covered in mold.
It’s all relative how many relatives’ blood cells run cold.
You wouldn’t believe what I was told…
With this 20-something teen angst, I say thanks.
The nerve of me for having a nervous system in a suicidal town.
A breakdown into the pieces of me.
A puzzle cut into the shape of anxiety,
screaming for justice like Van Gogh.
A cinematic chase up the steeple.
I wish they would blow, half of these people.
On the skin, this raw, sick look,
orphaned and in pursuit of creative flight,
like a comic book…
In darkness dwells the light of my writers lamp.
An approved moral code stamped on my spine,
a scar that marks a line of time.
Lines of demarkation are carved on Cloud 9.
A mental vacation. 
I kick the hornet’s nest and the hive mind.
Intelligence that justifys life itself.
Why are we here if not to beat ignorance with Orion’s belt?
A horror-punk’ed up tribute to what it was I once felt.
A blank slate,
thick to penetrate your eyes and ears!
Decapitate doubts and fears.
This is blood read –
pierce a hole with pen, and pull the thought right out of my head,
placed on the page.
Pace the rage.
Zen masterbation instead of being cuffed to a tramp
All about concentration, in this depraved camp.
Breaking my own bones that cause the cramp.
A paralyzed man who seeks to throw off his clan like a coat
so he can dance, dance, dance! 
That’s all she wrote.



All written content © 2012, Michael Phelan O’Toole, All rights reserved.




POEM/PRESS: 11 year old Michael Phelan O’Toole’s POEM in 1998 Needham Superintendent’s Notes (Pinsky on poetry, Patricia Smith on creativity)

“Needham Public Schools
Needham, Massachusetts

Superintendent’s Notes
February 11, 1998
Bulletin #27

It is a good week for a love story. The hero is fifth grader Michael
O’Toole. The setting is Joe Marino’s class. Characters include all of
Newman School staff who have worked with and supported Michael over
the years – especially Emily O’Malley.

Michael is a special boy who has had the courage and perseverance to
overcome many personal challenges. To meet him, you would not know
that he is a fighter. You could not appreciate the drama of the
struggle, or the determination and strength of his spirit.

But Michael has found a medium for his inner voice. It is poetry. This
week the Newman community rejoices in the person Michael has become.
Michael’s poem comes from a deep and personal place. Here are his


I am an ice cube trying to be “cool” in the heat of fads, and I am melting.

I am sunglasses, blocking out all the unwanted things in my life.

I am a rock, weighed down on the couch in front of the TV, in front of
the computer,
just sitting there with nothing to do, nothing.

I am a feather. I am free, I am light, I am small. A feather is a form of peace.
I would never cause trouble.
A feather is supported by wind when it is floating.
My friends, family and pets give me love.
That is my wind.

This expression of self through metaphor captures Michael’s difficult
journey and triumphant transformation. Meeting Michael, through his
poem and in person, helps me understand poet, Boston University
Professor, and Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s claim that poetry is the
highest expression of literacy. Pinsky argues that the experience of
poetry “… Is deeply involved in the evolution of human intelligence.
Poetry,” says Pinsky, “is part of our first technology… Its medium
is the body of all its dimensions (physical, mental, and spiritual).”
It is awesome to see a young person like Michael use the technology so
powerfully. This poem is a great demonstration of Michael’s competence
with language and literacy, his creativity, and his self knowledge.

Boston Globe columnist and poet Patricia Smith spoke about creativity
as a keynote speaker for the regional College Board conference this
week in Boston. Here is what I took away from her comments:

“We don’t know where it begins… It may be when you discover a
wonderful word that you have to repeat a thousand times — a word like
“anemone” … Each person must look for something that unlatches the
door and causes the mind to soar… It is a leaning against the
boundaries grunting and pushing in unexpected directions.”

Michael’s door is unlatched. His mind, his whole self, is airborne —
he is the feather. But the struggle against his boundaries had to
happen first. Now his soaring is unstoppable.

As adults, we sometimes miss the unlatching of the door when it
happens for one of our students, or our own children. I am thrilled
that Michael’s words can remind us that this is the moment and the
miracle that we work for. We are part of Michael’s wind!

Current contact as of 2011 for
24-year-old Boston, MA Punk Poet Michael Phelan O’Toole:

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