June 15, 2018

Megan Falley


Cleopatra crushed beetles
to make red lipstick
because even in 30 BC
she knew speaking 12 languages
would be even more impressive
when the words jumped
through a ring of fire.

Circus mouth.
    Ruby Woo. I smile and split
            The Red     Sea.

In medieval times, religious groups
condemned makeup for challenging god
and his workmanship,
but I and any good femme know—
    God invented lipstick.

In post-war New York, butches could get locked up
if they weren’t wearing three pieces of traditional
women’s clothes. Lipstick, stashed in a pinstripe suit pocket,
swiped on quick when someone threw their voice across the bar
to warn that the cops were barging the door,
could keep a queer from being a casualty
for the night.

And when Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
was liberated, each pair of lips as pale as the next,
along with the British Red Cross arrived a shipment
of lipstick. No one was quite sure
who asked for it—seemed petty—what

could a tube of maroon do for women
whose hair,       whose babies,       were ripped from their bodies?
Who could pick up a shard of a war’s mirror
for long enough     to apply a    smile?
How could lipstick be necessary
when there’d been experiments on children? Twins
sewn together at the back? When the nail scratches
in the gas chambers made their way 
through stone?

Five hundred a day, still dying.
Even when liberated, the prisoners could not be looked at
as individuals. Some of them would still die
as numbers.

One lieutenant said he believed nothing
did more for the survivors than that lipstick.
Women, thin as smoke, naked e v e r y w h e r e
except for their mouths:

Red, like they might one day
     flirt    again,    arm
on a jukebox,

    single finger
    a tie.

The next time it’s deemed frivolous,
something left on a napkin
or absent cheek,

    red lipstick,
  in its tube,
    like a bullet,
  but in reverse,
    giving life

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018


Megan Falley: “With special thanks to poet Jess Nieberg, whose creative collaboration and encouragement pulled this dormant poem from my pen.” (web)

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March 6, 2018

Megan Falley


Dicks drawn in cement on the still-wet tar.
Dicks drawn in the snow on the hood of my car.
Dicks drawn on lockers, dicks decking the hall!
Dicks watching me pee in the bar bathroom stall.
The boys made a habit of drawing dicks—
big dicks, little dicks, flirting dicks, squirting dicks,
limp ones, erect ones, shy ones, direct ones,
bald dicks, hairy dicks, friendly dicks, scary dicks,
fat dicks, lean dicks, nice dicks, mean dicks.
Dicks in their notebooks, dicks on the desks,
dicks in Emily Dickinson—obscuring the text!
Dicks in Great Gatsby and A Tale of Two Cities.
So many dicks and so little titties.
I never understood drawing dicks in the void—
is it a marking of territory? Someone call Freud.
I never drew a vagina in my loose leaf
(I know what you’re thinking, Georgia O’Keefe).
It’s kind of ridiculous, I don’t mean to sound callous,
but I can’t ride a train without seeing a phallus.
The schools say the girls’ skirts must reach their knees—
no v-necks, no spaghetti straps, in 100 degrees,
because too much skin might inhibit education
but no one thinks twice about dick decoration.
Dicks with tongues, dicks with eyes,
a dick with wings who soars and flies!
Dicks in the shape of a unicorn,
where the body’s a dick, and so is the horn!
Dicks where the semen is a telephone cord,
dicks in a boxing ring, or two fighting swords.
A long-necked dick, with the head of a giraffe,
the dick, in a way, has become autograph,
the author’s been signing his name all along:
Here’s my John Hancock, I’m a big fucking dong!
I guess maybe the point is to prove masculinity?
To say, I can throw a baseball, I lost my virginity!
Look at my dick, it’s so big I don’t cry!
That’s not a tear, that’s Super Cum near my eye.
I’m a man! I’m a man! Look at the evidence.
I drew a dick on a podium, my dick could be president!
But I’ll take the dick hot dog with the testicle buns,
because it’s art, in the end, and it’s better than guns.

from Poets Respond
March 6, 2018


Megan Falley: “This poem explores the relationship between toxic masculinity, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, all subsequent gunman threats, and the seemingly benign drawing of dicks in high schools.” (web)

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March 13, 2015

Megan Falley


It’s good that he’s gone,
but don’t let him be too gone.

He’s got to be candle blown out
in the other room gone.

Or exhaust pipe
huffing down the block gone.

Not closure-gone. Not someone-else’s-
baby-gone. Not cut your hair gone.

He can’t ever be too far
away to hurt you, honey.

You can pedal away but make sure it’s a polaroid
of him clicking in your bicycle wheel down the boulevard.

Put a suitcase in a trunk and every state in between you
if you want, but when you turn on the radio,

search for his song.
Don’t get me wrong, you can love.

You can bend over
a pinball machine for a biker,

or a balcony for a photographer.
You can bend over a bridge

for a poet, but when you’re in a strange city
at a lonely hotel bar and they ask

what you’re drinking,
say his name.

from Rattle #46, Winter 2014


Megan Falley: “I started writing poems when I was a little girl—mostly in handmade Mother’s Day cards or valentines. I think most of my poems are still basically Mother’s Day cards and valentines, just dark, grittier ones that no one would ever want to receive.” (web)

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