Steven Riel


She plants her self
before a full-length Brooklyn mirror,
Noxemas away her mother’s makeup,
tests countless ploys
to coax the front row’s gaze
anywhere but Here she honks, there she blows!
Big Beak! Big Beak!
, anywhere but
arms so scrawny her meshuggah mama
shipped her off to health camp
for fattening at age five.
In the waist-up audition
above their bathroom vanity
she cat-eyes eyeliner angles,
critiques collarbone and earlobes
four or five hours a day.
Next she cultivates the longest red fingernails
ever to read a part, favors offbeat necklines,
feathery earrings, slanted hats.
When her drag-queen pals play off catcalls,
she marks their technique.
Drops a letter from her forgettable forename,
practices a collection of odd gestures till they’re hers,
till she debuts on Broadway
with oh what a voice and oy what a schnozz
we have to applaud