Rihanna, Schuyler & Diane by Nicole Steinberg

Three poems from Getting Lucky, “a collection of sonnets culled from the gendered and glossy editorial copy of Lucky.”

You might’ve seen Michelle Obama at CBGB’s
25 years ago in a necktie and rebellious jeans—
there’s no going back. In this economy, it’s a bit
of a cliché to obsess over American Idol and run
around the city for zillion-count custom linens.
Be a shark’s tooth—a bit stalkerish but cool,
caught in the torpor of bleach on bleach, dizzy
with the details of modern insanity. Do your
mourning onstage, all-out destroyed from the waist
down, inky lashes on a frayed face. The reality is,
we engage in group fascinations, style risks;
this century is designed for serious damage and
split ends. Just toughen up—any economy has
its burdens, like blow-drying and being conscious.

I’m constantly striving to be cupcake-like;
it’s the Southern girl in me, equal parts Edward
Scissorhands and Swan Lake, fully countrified
and dangerously stacked. Sometimes I get
carried away, ignore all ravings about prenatal
vitamins and torture my hair with a spray of feathers
that overpower my small frame. I’m adorably
Lilliputian, overstuffed and over entitled but
surprisingly gamine-elegant. I’ll pair this delicious
orchid pink with deep English-country-manor green
to hit that sex-bomb note, keep from looking too
Little House, pear-shaped prairie. Step away from
my feminized briefcase, you unadulterated cherry.
I’m partied-out and need to jet to my horse farm.

Is there anyone cooler than the coconut
connoisseur in beaded gladiator sandals
drinking strawberry champagne outside
a little café downtown? Crafted from hair
oil and pliable denim, the red-blooded,
regular-haircut-getting siren is all warmth
with no sweetness, as smoldering as it gets
in Ye Olde Barber Shoppe. The American
items she loves are few and far between—
she dreams of London’s under-the-radar
salons, the fresh-cracked heat of a shimmering
French coastline. For her, the glooming pit
of despair is an afternoon at home with
a full dishwasher and a roll of cookie dough.



Nicole Steinberg is the author of Getting Lucky and the chapbooks Undressing and Birds of Tokyo (dancing girl press, 2014 and 2011, respectively). Recently, she received the Furniture Press 4X4 Chapbook Award for her upcoming collection Clever Little Gang. She is also the editor of Forgotten Borough: Writers Come to Terms with Queens (SUNY Press, 2011). She lives in Philadelphia.  “Rihanna” originally appeared in The Portable Boog Reader, “Schuyler” in BOMB, and “Diane” in Spooky Boyfriend. The book is available from Spooky Girlfriend Press.