Three Poems from Speak Like a Girl — Megan Falley & Olivia Gatwood

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Say No

It is summer. The smell of beer and hotdogs
is sweet in the air like a national anthem.
It’s baseball season, and you love baseball,

and going to these games with your boyfriend.
And today might be the perfect day
as you watch the little boys with their sticky grins

on their father’s shoulders. As you watch
all the happy people on the Jumbotron —
and then you see your own face

and your boyfriend down on one knee.
and then you see an engagement ring
so big it blinds the screen.

And the way he looks at you
like he caught the home run ball.
And then you look up

and see the thousands
of people in the stadium, rooting for you,
to do it, to say yes.

This is for the woman who says no:

They will boo you as you run down the stadium steps
because it will never be the wedding aisle.

Someone will throw popcorn at you
because it will never be rice, or confetti.

Someone will catch your wrist
because it will never be a bouquet.

They will call you a villain. A bitch.
They will call you worse.

They will curse the day you learned any other words
besides yes and sorry.

The ones who think themselves kind will ask
why you couldn’t just fake it for the screen,

why you had to make no a public thing.
There were little girls in the audience after all
and you denied them their fairytale.

Someone will tell your now ex-boyfriend
how undeserving you are, how any sane woman
would have loved that proposal,

and you must not have been shit anyway,
probably crazy, and he will nod.
And somewhere a man calls to a woman from his car window,
Hey sexy, come closer. She says no,

                — Cunt, you are ugly anyway.

Somewhere a woman argues for a higher salary
and her co-workers call her a bitch in the break room.

Somewhere a woman’s friends sign her up
for a makeover show. The audience laughs

when she says she loves her sweatpants.
The audience laughs when they throw them out anyway.

Somewhere a woman is told that if she doesn’t want to
hear the song about rape, don’t listen to it, but it follows her

in the supermarket, the gym, the girl’s clothing aisle,
and now she knows all the words.

Somewhere a woman is told to get naked at a frat party.
She refuses, a boy with a kind smile puts his arm around her,
offers her a beer, filled with the magic that erases No from her vocabulary.

In the manager’s office of my first job, I am sixteen
and my boss whispers a list of the things he would do to my body.
I say no, and he threatens my next pay check.

In my long-term boyfriend’s bed,
after having sex five times that morning, I say no,
he says, this probably isn’t going to work.

In Connecticut, a girl is asked to senior prom
by someone other than her boyfriend. She says no
and his knife blooms a corsage in her chest.

In California, a young virgin boy thinks about you,
and the ones like you, the ones who said no,
and the audience of boos, and the poor sucker

who was owed something
then denied it

and cocks his gun.


Collapse the Economy

Studies predict that if women stopped buying cosmetic products and services, every economy in the world would collapse overnight. This is a call to collapse the economy.

Let’s cover our scented tampons in hairspray, light them on fire,
and throw them at Maybelline’s headquarters.

Let’s take all our leftover lotions and soaps
and make the world’s largest slip -n- slide down Capitol Hill.

Weight Watchers will have a whole new meaning,
like, just wait and watch as I burn this motherfucker down.

Imagine — what could we do with all these Spanx?  
Probably make some sort of catapult to launch

our skin-softening bath bombs into enemy territory.
Victoria’s Secret? Is that she’s GOING OUT OF BUSINESS.

I have picked at my body like a scab.
I have squeezed at my face in the mirror

until no more me could come out of me.
I changed my outfit eight times before I got here.

Oh you thought we were gonna stop at burning bras?
Well then you shouldn’t have given us so much flammable shit.

Tampons, pads, even you Diva Cups, will be a thing
of the past. Tonight, we paint the town red.

I’m not bleaching my asshole,
I’ll bleach you, asshole.

Are you gonna put those fake eyelashes on for me?
No? Then I don’t fucking want them.

Does that shampoo also come with the photoshop
you used on the model? No? Then I don’t fucking want it.

Fuck you, Summer’s Eve.
I’d rather my vagina NOT smell

like Island Splash or Delicate Blossom
because what the fuck does that even smell like?

That’s not even a real scent.
My vagina is already vajazzled enough.

Let’s throw out our razors
and grow our hair as long as rivers.

How beautiful it will be to take the money I spend
to be pretty for you, make my hair soft for you,

my nails like candy for you, give myself
skin cancer for you,

go under the knife for you
and stop giving the 76 cents back.

There were days i spent hours crying
in the dressing room. Days I didn’t leave

the house in case someone had a camera
for fear of becoming another before picture.

So thank you, Cosmo for giving me
472 more beauty tips to completely ignore.

Thank you for all of this lipstick
to write I AM FLAWLESS on the wall.

Thank you for the cover up,
the vanishing cream.

Thank you for making us invisible
that way, you’ll never see us coming.


Princess Peach Speaks

Thanks, Mario, I guess,
for fighting those Koopa Troopas
and riding on the backs of dolphins
and traveling all the way to Star World
to save me.

You keep saying it was a lot of hard work,
how you almost lost all of your 99 lives,
how I should be grateful, but from my corner of the castle —
it looked a lot like adventure.

But what do I know?
I’m just a kitten caught up in a tree.
I get to sit in this 8-bit castle
guarded by a fire-breathing turtle fuck

and I’ve been here for however long
it’s taken your slow shit ass to get past
that fucking flying level and now of course
what I want to do is get married!

Enter into another imprisonment
called matrimony with you.
You, whose brother wears the exact same outfit
as you but in a different color like twin little fucking infants
and is always whispering into my hair,
Damn Peach. If only I’d gotten to you first.

But your princess is in another castle,
filing her taxes, because she’s a princess,
and makes a hell of a lot more money than you, Mario.
When she needs her toilet un-clogged,
she’ll call you, Mario.

Your princess is in another castle, I don’t know,
preparing to inherit rule of an entire country?
Princess Peach got work to do.
Princess already brushed her hair today.
Now princess gotta make some phone calls,
send some emails, get her ball gown fitted just right.

Oh, you thought princess was trapped by Bowzer?
Maybe, Princess hired Bowzer as a bouncer
because she didn’t have time to reject you at the door.

What makes you think every time Princess doesn’t answer
it means she needs your help? Can’t a woman get some alone time
around here to deal with her shit?

What shit, you ask? I don’t know — body image,
rape culture, motherhood, gender roles,
the fact that no one will let her wear anything but a pink dress?

You ride a dinosaur who comes in more colors than I do.
I don’t ever get to ride a dinosaur.

You fought off a baseball-throwing football player
Both: and now you’re entitled to Peach’s peach?

I should have stayed with Bowser
because at least he called himself Monster.

At least I knew what he was —
not some one-dimensional super nerd
who thinks human decency is foreplay.
Who thanks a savior complex gets me wet.

You’re a plumber, so I thought you’d be able
to smell your own bullshit.

You’re the date who buys a nice dinner
and calls me a bitch when I don’t let you upstairs.

You’re the guy on the street who tells me to smile
before cutting it into me.

You’re all the states in America where it is legal
to rape your wife.

So fuck you Mario.
Here’s a level.
You can beat it.
Get a life.

Photo of Megan Falley & Olivia Gatwood: Speak Like a Girl

Photo of Megan Falley & Olivia Gatwood: Speak Like a Girl

SPEAK LIKE A GIRL is a feminist, interactive poetry show that uses spoken word to educate entertain and inspire. Born from the minds of Olivia Gatwood and Megan Falley, SPEAK LIKE A GIRL juggles issues such as street harassment, body image and gender inequality with humor and grace. Megan Falley is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, After the Witch Hunt (2012) and Redhead and the Slaughter King (2014), both out on Write Bloody Publishing. Her chapbook, Bad Girls Honey [Poems About Lana Del Rey] was the winner of the 2014 Tired Hearts Competition. Olivia Gatwood has been featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices (2010) and is the author of the chapbook Drunk Sugar. She is a sex and relationships writer for Bustle Magazine and a recent graduate of Pratt Institute’s fiction program. Together, Megan and Oliviaare National Poetry Slam and Women of the World Poetry Slam finalists and have been featured on TV One’s Verses and Flow. They are currently touring North America until infinity.