Four Poems by Nicole Steinberg

Four poems by Nicole Steinberg

Getting Lucky in August

We’re always thinking of Jackie O, done
and undone: gold-on-gold flash, the definition
of stealthily sexy, with an off-duty-jazz-dancer vibe
that I love. You can’t go wrong with pinky
beige and a sleek black dress, the nicest mix
of casual and fashiony, siren-worthy.
These arty slick ladies-who-lunch make me
feel kind of gallery girl, tomboyishly womanly,
plucked from the arms of a film-noir character.
It’s sultry, sticky summer in my little comfort zone;
These marine-scented Marines are hardware
overload. It’s sexy in an interesting way: salty,
oceany, folkloric. I picture myself pregnant
in an old French movie, fabulously long-haired.


Getting Lucky in October

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.


Getting Lucky in October

If the color red had a scent, it would be fierce
and smoky: a lanky blonde folded-over-and-bound,
pressed into the leather. She breaks my heart,
this spot-on perfect almond tart—Deneuve-sexy
and extra-supple, her megawatt sugarplum skin
is reminiscent of the inside of a conch shell. I love
her volcanic smoldering, her streamlined silhouette,
clean-lined and curvy against softly polished
little spears. A mermaidy French import, electric
schoolgirl, Lauren-Hutton-on-safari-in-the-boudoir.
The whole enterprise is really hands-on: black-
blond sweetness, from the slinky chain to the hefty
buckles. A touch of lace and curlicues aplenty,
it screams of sublime. Even strangers stop and ask.


Getting Lucky in February

I want to paint in sculptural peep-toe heels and
a vibrant headdress—a flawless, timeless,
body-conscious silhouette. Uptown-lady plaid
is my I-can’t-live-without-it staple: all natural,
with a seriously slouchy ’90s-grunge feel.
Women have been washed out for generations.
Even a total Greek goddess like Lauren Bacall
is a prim flower-girl in old-timey packaging.
I keep grabbing for the fashion holy grail; I grew up
wearing ballerina booties with arty army parkas
and streetwise pencil skirts. At the end of the day,
I’ll spray makeup all over myself to feel special,
then unravel in the home stretch: beat-up and beautiful,
versatile putty against the bare skin of my lovers.

This issue of First Proof is sponsored in part by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation and the Thanksgiving Fund.

Nicole Steinberg is an editor-at-large of LIT; contributing editor to BOMB; and the founder, curator, and host of Earshot, a reading series dedicated to emerging writers. Her work appears in journals such as Coconut, Barrow Street, Barrelhouse, and No Tell Motel, and she’s the author of the forthcoming chapbooks Undressing (Scantily Clad Press) and Gamblers (Taiga Press). The Getting Lucky series is a collection of found sonnets constructed from the editorial copy of Lucky, a magazine about shopping and style. She lives in Queens, New York.

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