let down your hair (vintage florals & competing shades)

III

II

Let down your hair to me,

I asked,

and watched the sly uncurling.

Silk-bound secrets shook their shackles

and I learned what morning meant.

IV I VII

Let down your hair,

I asked, a tease –

golden secrets winking back.

I climbed her form and kissed her face.

I paused and watched

her bloom stretch on forever.

IX

Let down your hair

“I can’t tonight: the babe is wailing

something fierce, the floor’s unswept,

and don’t forget the winter’s on its way.”

Her face was drawn – not a challenge

but a law.

I shut my mouth and watched

the morning turn to noon.

X

Let down your hair – “it’s too late for that now,

don’t you see these wrinkles,

these sags,

this much-too-softness,

these hollows where once I was firm.

Don’t you know evening

when it strokes your ragged face?”

XIII

Let down your hair,

I whispered,

as though she could hear,

as though her hollows and softness and sags

hadn’t deafened her lovely ears.

As though midnight weren’t on our trail.

XI XII

My darling, my darling, let down your hair

That I might climb that (silver) stair.

 

hitchcockienne

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In these, my last installment from Saturday’s shoot, I went straight-up Olde Hollywood romantigoth. Think Vertigo and Double Indemnity meet Nosferatu. Josh and I took turns playing each other’s villain. (Let’s not even touch the metaphor inherent there.) It’s astounding how just a few tweaks of the light turn an image from theatrical candid to grainy movie still.

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bloody snow

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The second installment from Saturday’s shoot with Brent. For these, I envisioned a medieval morality play mated somehow with Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. Almost traditional – witchy imagery, fairy-tale elements – but just unsettling enough. Josh and I tried for a genderfucked Snow White aesthetic, what with the pomegranate, his pretty pretty princess mask, and my crone-tastic posture. I really like how even the background, with its draped sheets and oddly stark light, captures that candid theatrical feeling. Like the caravan of players in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – coincidentally one of Josh’s favorite movies.

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fairy-tale feels

frozen I

I saw Frozen a couple weeks ago with my friend Savannah. As a connoisseuse of classic Disney, I am always keen to see how the modern renditions compare. I enjoyed how The Princess and the Frog toed the romantic line and more or less adhered to its time period (albeit in a highly glossed-over way, but hey) while sneaking in subtle messages of empowerment. While I don’t necessarily believe that children’s media should always have a positive message (some of the most powerful stories don’t have happy endings, and I don’t think we should insulate kids from that), it’s really interesting to see just how far the fairy-tale medium can stretch. How can you be as true as possible to the original material while making it more accessible to the modern-day sprog? Can you maintain the original message even with the morals updated? I think you can. Shout-out to my lover Joseph Campbell: you can find the hero’s journey in basically anything, no matter how contemporary (or not).

Anyway, I really liked Frozen. Disney animation will never be what it was, but I’m making my peace with that. For 2013, Frozen is a top-quality Disney film. For one thing, it stars my girl Idina Menzel in a role actually quite similar to the one I fell in love with her in. Elsa, like Elphaba, is a proud isolate. And she’s fairly morally ambiguous, which is awesome for Disney. Give the young ‘uns some deductive credit, why don’t you. Also, Disney blatantly lampshades itself in the form of Kristoff: “Why would you get engaged to someone you’ve only known for a day?”

Sooo…I decided to Nordic it up. Wintry pattern mixing, a Currier & Ives backdrop, and a touch of bright. I imagined myself as a contemporary citizen of Arendelle*, relishing Elsa’s legacy and snuggling with my pet reindeer.

frozen V

*Walt Disney’s grandfather was named Arundel. Coincidence? More like LIZARD PEOPLE.

frozen IX

frozen VI

frozen VII

frozen VIII

Dress: Savers Sweater: Classy Closet Hat, Shoes, & Scarf: Gifted Tights: Old Gold

frozen X

frozen XI

glass slippers will cut your feet

cindy III

Cindy won’t forget herself that easily. You don’t spend two decades scrounging scraps and counting every moment of peace only to slide painlessly into luxury. Cleanliness feels too naked, finery too bright. Trust doesn’t come so fast, not even for Prince Charming. Too many nights she finds herself pulled hearthward, hypnotized, drawn to some semblance of her old life.

Lace doesn’t go with ashes. She aches for a way to hide.

cindy I

cindy IV

I love fairy tales. I hope that’s obvious by now. I love the archetypes inherent in them. Their demonstration that humans have always been the same. More than that, I love how many ways exist to twist and queer and bastardize them. The goth in me doesn’t want to let anyone have a happy ending.

How much sense does it make for Cinderella to sail right into royalty without even a nod to her crippling PTSD? Exactly none. Part of her probably wishes she still slept beside the cinders every night. She knows embracing her new life is the clearest way forward, but she can’t let go of the rags and ash.

Under her gold and lace, she still wears that filthy frock close against her skin.

cindy V

At least as a slave she was Someone. Now she is Other.

cindy VIII

cindy XI

cindy XIII

cindy VI

cindy VII

cindy IX

Dresses, Shawl: for sale at Downtown Threads Mask, Pearls, Ring, Belt: Gifted

145

little red

red VI

In a time when I still counted years

I skipped from fen to forest

with a basket over my arm,

with offal tripe and fruitcake

tucked into a pouch of love

from mother to grandmother,

red XI

and I, the intergenerational messenger,

I skipped from fern to fungi to roots

that stretched out,

angling to ensnare.

red IV

red IX

I counted brushes of my feet against the ferns

and stones against my heels

and whispers of wind

inflating the lining of my cape.

red XV

red XVI

And when a thin, keening voice

wailed my name between howls at the rising moon,

I didn’t stop to let its portent soak.

I was too steeped in my love of the

numerical,

the rhythmic,

the categorical.

red XIX

But the keening voice belonged to a rangy grey figure

who stepped into my path,

on two legs,

deigning to appear more man than beast,

but his snout planed out from his whiskery face

at an indecent angle,

a cockeyed, sinister gesture

(like a butcher, all swathed in blood

but clutching flowers in his hand).

red XVII

His face was athletic –

he’d chased before and he knew all the steps to the dance.

red V

He came forward, snapping

I hid my basket of offal tripe and fruitcake,

foolishly thinking that was what he wanted,

that no thick-muzzled wolf-man was going to snap up

the pouch of love and sweetbreads

sent by my mother, who trusted me

a little too much.

red XVIII

It wasn’t what he wanted.

Of the feast, I remember nothing.

Only that I am glad my cloak was red,

for it hid the steepness of my stains,

and the blood on the insides of my thighs.

“`

Skirt, Hat, Tights, & Pentacle: Gifted Blouse, Brooch, & Boots: Battery Street Jeans Sweater: The Classy Closet Cloak: iParty

Poem by me. Photos by Josh. Autumn by Mother Nature.

peasant in lace

lacy XI

I love fairy tales. I always have. I love them for their darkness and their spite, their sickness and their slanted sort of health. I love hidden variations on their themes present, unexpectedly, in the oddest corners of literature. I love seeing them twisted and hinted at and expounded upon. My most evocative mindscape – well, one of them – is a rambling Bavarian cottage lousy with secrets and maybe-truths.

Today I’m Cinderella simultaneously before and after. Cinderella in her lacy altogether returning to the hearth she once called her whole world. The tricky part is figuring out which, the before or the after, is the tragedy.

lacy IX

lacy XIV

I wrote this poem when I was fifteen. I call it City Girls.

Stories are just that,
stories,
flights to pace and prowl,
the bones of poetry and secrets:
into these we build our lives.

Do you remember
the stories from your childhood
do you –
ever let those musty books
take purchase in your mind?

lacy XV

Do you ever let those figures
reassemble,
the bones of creation,
the archetypes of nascence,
to be filled in by the
flesh and faces
of real time?

lacy VI

lacy XVI

That woman on the corner
could be Rapunzel,
skinny and cigaretted
her walk-up patio perched high
against a low-down world.
If I wanted to see her
I’d take the stairs
because her hair’s too short and smoke-stained
to ever really shine.

Or –
Snow White for the cyber age
Chinese chambermaid, quietly bred
emptying the wastebasket
every morning
on the corner of Seventh and Main.
Rapunzel smokes,
oblivious to the congress
of colliding tales
just below her window,
every morning.

lacy VII

Snow White
stands under five feet
and she’s got
thin humble lips
and a home-stitched face
not anonymous enough for comfort,
and no one will exalt her
in a transparent coffin
when she pops off.

lacy VIII

lacy XVII

Snow thinks the subway is
a luxury:
for all its jerks and belches
there she can rest her
bound and weary feet.
Sharing her low-slung plastic bench
is the girl in yesterday’s makeup
and last week’s clothes.
Frosted hair won’t come
back into fashion in greater Manhattan,
but her crowd appreciates it;

they’re the ones flicking cigarette ash
into drainpipes
and fending off the down-lows
in their potbellies
and leather jackets
who crave more tricks than
they can pay for.
Where is she going, dressed like that-
is there an appointment in the world
worth requiring such an abusive shade of red?

lacy III

lacy IV

lacy X

I’d like them all to meet, someday
in that pub above the laundromat
Rapunzel with her bored lips,
Snow White with her deference,
Sleeping Beauty with her pierced-heart narcolepsy.
Each asleep in one way or another,
each missing a piece potent enough to
wake up her corner of the world.

lacy V

Blouse: Downtown Threads Skirt: Goodwill Boots: Battery Street Jeans Hat, Tights, & Bra: Gifted Necklace: Family heirloom

~

I cringe to disrupt the mood of this post, but I want to emphasize that this poem is absolutely not to be read as sex-work negative or prejudicial in any other way. Sex workers are laborers who deserve to see their work legitimized. Sleeping Beauty has a hard life and she is a prostitute, not necessarily because she is a prostitute. (The same can be said, in different ways, of my poem’s other two characters, though their lives aren’t quite as politicized.) Sex workers’ lives run the gamut of human experience, because they’re, you know, human. I apologize for the aside, but the safety, autonomy, and legitimacy of sex workers is one of my pet issues. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend the blog Tits and Sass.