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I stole mom’s red lipstick
from her bureau drawer,
took it after her death.

Dad says clean out her stuff
from the bathroom,
so I do, wonder why
I would keep her makeup,
toss it all except for this tube
of drug store brand red,
twist it up from the case,
hear her voice whisper
from the mirror.

My lips are not her lips
my lips ask why and she answers.
our lips want attention, we are both cynical,
she yelled at me for being sassy
she sings out her pain and I listen.

Her lips are bright red like the tomatoes
she loved but couldn’t eat, too acidic,
she washed my mouth out with soap
because of a swear word.

I try to remember the goodnight kisses
tucking me into bed,
her last kiss from Dad on the lips
in the hospital room, I’m a witness.

Red isn’t my lip color
but I take the lipstick anyway
to wear on some special occasion
that requires red.



Jules Nyquist is the founder of Jules’ Poetry Playhouse, LLC, a place for poetry and play in Albuquerque, NM. Jules teaches creative writing and poetry classes and hosts poetry readings with visiting writers. She took her MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. Her two books of poems, Behind the Volcanoes and Appetites (both from Beatlick Press), were finalists for the NM/AZ Book Awards.  Jules’ poems have appeared in 5 AM, Salamander, Malpais Review, Adobe Walls, A View from the Loft, St. Paul Almanac, Long Islander News, Gray Sparrow, House Organ, Duke City Fix, Grey Sparrow Journal and others. Her website is