Costume Warehouse – by Christine Stoddard

Somehow you tricked someone into employing you.

On your first day, you show up at the costume warehouse
in a black leather jacket with pants to match because this is New York.
Never mind that you will be populating spreadsheets
and handling paperwork day in and day out.
You will look glamorous doing it, dammit.

You could never be the fresh-eyed blonde
they find so pretty in Virginia, but here
in the Big Apple, you can be edgy and edgy surpasses pretty.

You refuse to cover your high-yellow complexion
with too-light foundation and powder.
You line your eyes in kohl to make them appear even blacker.
Then you apply (and re-apply) lip gloss so your lips appear even fuller.
To hell with anyone who thinks them too full.
You are biracial and you will not soften your blackness.
You are biracial and you will not privilege your whiteness.

After you’ve put on your armor, you’re ready for the battle
of production assistants who will swamp you for everything
on the checklists their bosses handwrote on scrap paper at midnight,
at their kitchen table, while they clutched their third glass of wine.
You know this because of the burgundy spots and smeared ink.

You feel powerful as you glance at the P.A.s’ pleading faces,
knowing you could get them fired or help them secure that promotion.
And that is the most powerful you have felt in a very long time.
You use that power for good because benevolence has bitten you.

You have a job in your industry in New York City, among bright lights.
You are contributing to theater, to film, to television watched everywhere.
This isn’t the dream, but you can feel the steppingstone firmly under your feet.

Now staple Form A to Form B, stamp them both, and file them away.




Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. Christine also is the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine, as well as the author of Hispanic & Latino Heritage in Virginia (The History Press), Ova (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), and two miniature books from the Poems-For-All series.

Twitter @cstoddard and online here.

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