In her “Open Letter to Pepe Le Pew,” poet Megan Falley proves the harshness of reality can be interpreted through the most sentimental of ideals.
“When you sauntered past,
people plugged their noses with clothespins,
buildings wilted around you, paint fell clear off statues,
and kids at home laughed, and laughed,
and spit out their cereal.
It wasn’t because of your stench that I walked
off that cliff, but how the laugh track was the looped sound
of witch trials, how every man after you would hold me
the way a bathtub holds a girl bleeding out, how love
would fill my heart like a running exhaust pipe…”
A sadistic note following a twisted affair, the poem comes from the voice of Penelope Pussycat, former love interest of the cartoon superstar, and is but one of the many innovative pieces that make up Falley’s latest collection of rhymes, After the Witch Hunt. Released in April on Write Bloody Publishing, the book brings the sassy, provocative connotations that the author has made her signature on stage to the written page. As sophisticated, as she is crass, and as sweet as she is unapologetic, the work impeccably replicates Falley’s dynamic persona.
“I want to encourage females around me that they can own what they want to say,” Falley says in an interview with BTR in 2011. “I think a lot of females, in general, feel that they have to apologize before speaking and more females preface their work than males do…[They] feel the need to ask permission to perform and experiment and stretch boundaries.”
Falley earned her stripes as a poet years ago, representing her alma mater, SUNY New Paltz, on the slam team while she was a student, and, after graduation, becoming its coach. In 2009, she founded the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational, the second largest collegiate spoken word tournament in the country, and soon thereafter, hit the big leagues, repping New York City in the National Poetry Slam. Her lyrical narratives are now inked into the pages of numerous anthologies and literary magazines, including this debut book of rhymes.
According to the poet, the flow and rhythm of her work are greatly influenced by the parallel structures of music.
“I wasn’t aware of as many songs as I reference,” observes Falley. “A lot of my early inspirations were Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst, Ani DiFranco, I hear a song, and good lyrics can make me fall in love with the melody.”
She continues. “I just heard a Frightened Rabbit song; it’s this song called “Backwards Walk.” He say, “You’re the shit, and I’m knee-deep in it.” I wish that I could wail away on a guitar sometimes. I’m not musically or instrumentally or vocally gifted. I’m just good-looking.”
Falley was equally influenced by one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Joni Mitchell, who, as the poet observes, was able to restructure the logistical components of sound and transform them into a whole new personage.
“Joni Mitchell does that song, “River,” Falley points out. “She’s essentially playing “Jingle Bells” in minor chords, and that affected me a lot early on to hear how she could switch it and that would change the whole feeling and the tone… That’s a very sad song.”
Currently, the young artist finds herself on a national tour promoting her poetry. She’s additionally doing completion slams along the way and spending time with her cohorts in the rhyme game. The extent of Falley’s plans are in development, but expect to be bedazzled by a girl on the brink of glory.
“I cut off all my hair,” Falley writes in June on her blog. “I’ve had long hair for most of my life. This is the shortest it’s been since babyhood. I’ve used it as a security blanket for so long. I thought I couldn’t have short hair unless I was superthin. I thought I needed long hair to be pretty. Fuck that. Gone. My life is about to take off in a big way. I’m just going with it. [Who’s] coming with me?”