August 30, 2017

Nude is the New Black, by Erin Wyble Newcomb

The Emperor is always in fashion
Because he tells us what’s new, what’s now.
This season, skin is in.
We’re naked as the day we were born, but
That’s not a simile.
It’s a statement
About where we stand between the lines
The spring and fall collections.

The Emperor is always fashioning
A new collection of lines. What’s new now?
This season’s skin is so last season,
So next season we’ll all be stripped bare, which
Is just another metaphor,
A statement regarding transparency
And reading between the lines.
Each collection embodies a new line.

Spring and fall, the Emperor is fashion,
Because he tells us so. The new and the now
Make way for next season.
We’ve got skin in this game.
That’s just a colloquialism,
A statement piece to remind us of the dangers
Springing and falling
For another collection of lines.

The Emperor fashions himself an emperor.
He’s what’s new and now and next
Because seasons are cyclical.
We always circle back to naked, which
Sounds dirty,
Except for the existential dread about the
Line between vintage and avant-garde,
Past and future, life and death.

The Emperor’s fashion is cutting edge.
It’s not new to be cloaked in power, but it’s now.
Fashion is frivolous, but—no—
Clothes make the man.
That’s an expression,
A lesson about men with cutting edges
Slicing up the lines
That clothe our fallen bodies.

The Emperor didn’t spring up out of nowhere.
He’s now. He’s next. He’s not new.
He’s a made man in a parade of sycophants.
He makes fashion, but we made the man.
That’s a warning,
Echoing through the ages about
What lines we’ll cross
Between truth and lies.

The Emperor fashions the lines because
He tells us and we listen and we want to believe
Nude is the new black.
Whose nude? And who’s nude? There is no neutral.
The naked truth is not the truth.
It’s a collection of questions.
When we will spring up? How will we fall down?
Where will we draw the line?

Erin Wyble Newcomb reads, writes, and teaches in the Hudson Valley, and she records her adventures in homeschooling at; you can follow her on Twitter @ErinWyble. She is pleased for her work to appear again in Enchanted Conversation.


T.W. Kirchner said...

Fun poem!

Lissa Sloan said...

Very timely. I love the word play!

M Delaney said...

The more you read this poem, the more jumps out at. Fourth reading and there are still lines that surprise me with new interpretations. Awesome work.