vintage plaid, red accents, & a silly poem

I submitted this to the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. Not gonna lie, 90% of why I did so was just to see “Wergle Flomp” on my resume.

rpII

The sun went down at four-o’clock

on the ev’ning of January first.

In its place, the moon unlocked

the gate, and came to quench its thirst.

 

I took the measure of the sky

a-gleaming in its tar.

I posed a question, asking “Why?”

And lo! Was greeted by a star!

rpIII

Along the ridge of Mars and North

my vanguard shone for me.

Holding strong and gleaming forth,

never to cower or flee.

 

A metaphor, my star became,

imbuing me with vim.

How brilliant glowed its well-fanned flame –

how holy boomed its hymn!

rpIV

The star became my confidant,

soothing troubles from all corners.

Guarding lovers on a jaunt,

wiping tears from distant mourners.

 

The sun went down at nine-o’clock

when June came ‘round the bend.

Alone beneath the moon, I walked

to find the power to transcend.

rpI rpVIII

I dropped to my knees, my limbs a-tremble.

The star gazed down, so stern.

I should have guessed it to dissemble:

But I, seeking counsel, just churned.

 

“I’m lost,” I cried, “so soothe me, please.

I’m afraid my bearings have slipped.”

My star hung bright, a comfort, an ease:

A smooth face, white, unpipped.

 

When suddenly my tacit friend –

his face split in a wink!

I watched in bitter discontent

as his wisdom toppled off the brink!

rpV

A clown, a mime, a laughing face

hung blankly in the sky.

Where truth once stood was nare a trace –

my lips parted in a cry.

rpVI

June had come, rose high,

and the hour was nigh

for my dear friend to depart.

 

The orbit had switched

and the mission was ditched.

rpVII

The star I’d wished on every night

turned out to be a satellite.

 

housewife (’50s dress, dollar-store pearls, & oxford pumps)

blue IIblue I

The milkman’s wares were spoiled this morning

but I didn’t say anything because what can he do?

blue III

I try not to shoot the messenger,

but my whole life is messengers, it seems –

the sticky webs of secretaries I’m put through just to reach Richard;

the doctor who phoned to say my father was dead.

blue VIII

Each of us only a medium,

a cog oiling itself against umpteen brothers.

With that slant, life seems less disappointing.

blue VII blue V

The girls who sassed me in high school are only pockets of meanness,

channels for some mighty practical joke.

The man at the bank who pats my behind

is mere victim to the lusty ego men can’t help.

blue IV

The whore splayed out on Robert’s desk

when he thought I was at home with the linens

is only a puppet, a pornographic mannequin,

and the blankness on Robert’s face

just an emissary of an indifferent God.

blue IX

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.

 

mori girl

I

I am lashed to a gypsy boy

by one colossal sky.

III

when this universe shrinks to a cage,

I’ll remember that his eyes were

black holes;

dripping, magnetic wounds;

and through them

we could probably tunnel our way free.

VIII VI

I will miss you, gypsy brother,

in the not-so-far-off fore when

your pain is no longer a false alarm.

XI IX

If nothing else,

remember the morning

when the sun filled our eyelids

and, for a moment,

opened those sleek black

holes to light.

IV

X

If nothing else,

remember the morning.

young ‘uns

 

 

Because spring, because birth, because aging.

I

I swore it was just one of those in-between gigs –

a nice fiscal pick-me-up between my English B.A.

and my philosophy post-grad.

But there’s no demand for nattering Nietzscheans, it seems,

so here I remain,

making martyrs of the brats whose hall passes I deny,

and confiscating gum from the ones smarter than me.

VIII

In their skinny jeans and gangsta pants

those kids are brewing the next sexual revolution.

The boys – proto-Guevaras –

with middle fingers erected stiff,

fucking authority in the absence of any girl bold enough.

III

And the girls –

their bodies are still miraculous accidents,

still without seams dividing the end of childhood

from the beginning of self-hatred.

Each incipient breast,

not yet fraught with politics,

is blameless as a monk’s gleaming pate.

VI

 

For all the catcalls and mash notes

and terroristic exclusion campaigns:

those breasts are still pointy

and those fingers: all the boys

can actually get up.

IV

They’re playing at adulthood –

no, that’s not fair.

They are working at adulthood,

and that is more than I myself can say,

prizing education though I wasted my own

and thumbing my nose at troublemakers

while I drink my own self sane.

 

Their excuses are mine –

no, better than mine.

“Teacher dear, I am busy

pioneering this clusterfuck that is adolescence.

Please forgive me if my homework gets lost

somewhere between not-quite-wrecking-Dad’s-car

and the thrill of a first orgasm.”

VII IX

Half-grown but fully alive, they

are striving, as I

confront my own obsolescence.

Maybe that’s why they never meet my eyes:

in them they see themselves

only much more so.

V II

Words and photos by me.

la fae verte

fae I

tethered in the balance of sea and sky

of awake and merely alive

quietly gestate your world.

fae II fae III

pare down elysium and tartaros:

breathe your sooty asphodel

into a humble human whole.

fae V fae VI

traverse creation like an insect,

carrying discernment in the pads of

your feet

fae VIII fae X

and map a tiny galaxy

fae XIII fae XIV

beneath the skin of every world.

fae IX

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.

recap

I have a shoot tomorrow with Brent Gould. Brent is probably my favorite photographer to work with. Our aesthetics complement each other superbly.

To get into the modeling mood, I’ve been looking through my old shots, and I found a few I’d never posted before.

never posted I

Copyright Brent Gould 2012.

never posted II

Copyright David Steinhardt 2012. This was a really cool shoot. I brought a book of Taylor Mali poems, and Vid (as Steinhardt prefers to be called) had me slam the same one, over and over at varying speeds, while he took candids.

I had strep throat that day. I crawled out of bed, shuffled to the shoot, and went back to bed for the next 48 hours.

I really, really love what I do.

never posted III

Copyright Upstairs Studio 2012

I don’t usually post nudes here, because my blog is linked to my full name and my Facebook profile. However, I thought this one was sufficiently modest. Objectively, it’s a stunning piece of art.