“Lipstick for Your Vagina Is an Actual Thing Now” by Nicole Steinberg


In the ’90s, eucharist-faced Kurt Cobain,
always wincing, close to tears. A whistling

sound that followed. In this decade, whatever
the kids will call it, hand-puppet vaginas & dad

making waves in the pawn shop. Me wishing
I had somehow gotten closer to Bea Arthur.

The members of my online poetry workshop
gear up to discuss sexual assaults of yore

and this week’s pantoum about which songs
on ye olde mixtapes double as oleander

reminders. We know a woman rarely plans
her last supper, so I wield em-dash machetes

to hold them at arm’s length. My mother’s fibrous
legacy swelters inside the crumpled brown paper

bag of my body, her last distressed thoughts melting
pigment in my bloodstream, which keeps moist

my cloying cheese danish heart


Nicole Steinberg is the author of Glass Actress (Furniture Press Books, 2017), Getting Lucky (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2013), and several chapbooks, including Fat Dreams (Barrelhouse, 2018). Her work has been featured or reviewed in the New York TimesNewsweekFlavorwireBitch, and Hyperallergic, and her poetry was selected by Penn State’s Pennsylvania Center for the Book for the 2016 Public Poetry Project poster series. She’s the founder of New York’s EARSHOT reading series and she lives in Philadelphia. Find her online at nicolesteinberg.net.

Photo by Destinee Dearbeck