Writing the Apocalypse: Love Me Red Lipstick

Writing the Apocalypse is a weekly series featuring the poems, essays, and recollections of

Puma Perl, with subject matter influenced by her experiences

as a NYC resident during the COVID-19 pandemic and what, at present, appears to be the post-pandemic period.

Love Me Red Lipstick| TEXT & PHOTOS BY PUMA PERL

Crusin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go – Chuck Berry


Every morning I sit on the edge of the bed,

committing myself to the next moment.

Once my feet hit the floor, I can’t turn back

Almost against my will, I spin into motion.


Chuck Berry’s riding along in his automobile

and me, I check my email, do the Times mini puzzle,

pour coffee into the MOMA 2001 cup, fill the blue bucket,

wash the floors, talk to the plants, shower and dress;

routines that keep me safe around open windows.


My friends who sheltered at home

without bras and zippers, walking their dogs

in slippers and pajama pants, are my heroes,

warding off despair without makeup.


My pandemic supplies included four bottles

of black eyeliner, three shades of hair dye,

and lipsticks named Love Me Red and Hot Cherry.

I didn’t care if they stained my masks.


It was less about vanity than survival instincts,

doing whatever I could to face the mirror,

even with no particular place to go

and nobody riding shotgun beside the wheel.


© puma perl, 06/09/2021


Puma Perl is a poet and writer, with five solo collections in print. The most recent is Birthdays Before and After (Beyond Baroque Books, 2019.) She is the producer/creator of Puma’s Pandemonium, which brings spoken word together with rock and roll, and she performs regularly with her band Puma Perl and Friends. She’s received three New York Press Association awards in recognition of her journalism, and is the recipient of the 2016 Acker Award in the category of writing. Her most recent books can be found by clicking here.


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