The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: You Do Not Have To Be Good by Madeleine Barnes


Step one: Andromeda. Step two: dark eyelashes.
Step three: adulthood with faint traces of childhood.
Stabilizer: On. Auto-focus: off. Love
how she touches you. Think: the stars are planning
the erasure of two-hundred-year-old silences,
so let her try to reach you. Step five: look at her
without expressing fear. Draw a tarot card
and let her tell you what it means.
Give her a crown of almonds and wet grass.
Frame something teal, something velvet,
something worthy. Give her a cathedral,
an amber glove, remix raspberry and neon.
Give her a lilac cube, enamored hi-shine,
avalanche of electric violet.
Cover her in changeable taffeta and ginger root.
Love her vices, her moss and copper.
Bring your relics. Step seven: sing.

This selection comes from the book, You Do Not Have To Be Good, available from Trio House Press.  Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Krista Cox.

 Madeleine Barnes is a poet, visual artist, Mellon Foundation Humanities Public Fellow, and English PhD student at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She serves as Poetry Editor at Cordella Magazine, a publication that showcases the work of women and non-binary writers and artists. Her debut poetry collection, You Do Not Have To Be Good, is forthcoming from Trio House Press in July 2020. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Women’s Work, forthcoming from Tolsun Books. She’s the recipient of two Academy of American Poets poetry prizes, the Princeton Poetry Prize, the Gertrude Gordon Journalism Prize, and the Three Rivers Review Poetry Prize. Visit her at

For money, Krista Cox is a paralegal at an environmental and insurance coverage firm. For joy, she’s an Associate Poetry Editor at Stirring: A Literary Collection and Executive Director of Lit Literary Collective, a nonprofit serving her local literary community. She serves on the board of the Feminist Humanist Alliance. Her poetry has appeared in Columbia JournalCrab Fat MagazineThe Humanist, and elsewhere. Her internet hangout is



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