Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Here are the previous posts relating to the fashion editorial:

Part One: Introduction explaining why I did the fashion editorial 

Part Two: the “Trapped” set

Part Three: the “Warrior” set

I will add a link to the final post in the fashion editorial series when it’s up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Gaia

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Lioness

There is a time to fight

to rage

to hunt with the

skill of a lioness

to wage a private war

against the darkness

of the soul

and fears

and lies

that bind the heart

and wound the mind

for all of this

there is a time

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Walking in Light

But now I walk

bathed in light,

The hours are golden

And I am right to take off

the armor,

lay down the spear

the more I stop caring

about what you think

the less I fear

the dark

the more I embrace

who I really am

and fall in love with living,

the more I am at peace.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: I SeeI see you now in a different light

the candles, the fight, the way

you saw me and

how I saw myself

it wasn’t right—any of it—

broken, jagged shards

making you my enemy

when what we really are

and always will be

are fellow wanderers

on this journey

together

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Resting

I close my eyes to rest,

to breathe

for once not haunted

by what I’ve been told

by what I’ve seen

or the fears of what will happen

if I dare to be

more than what you thought

I should.

 Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Dreaming

I dream

of love that burns away

the hate and lies

a love so strong

that judgment dies

and all that remains

is the fiery knowledge

that there is a time

to learn to be wise

to open my eyes to what is true:

that you,

that I,

we are part of something good

sacred

divine

and beneath all the pain

that drives us apart

what matters is

I must see your heart.

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Eyes Open

If you like my writing, you should check out my books! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Flowers” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here (intro), part two here (the “Trapped” photo set), and part four here (the “Flowers” photo set). I will add links to the other posts relating to the fashion editorial once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Minerva

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Who I AmThey think they know me.

They’ve got me filed, slotted, defined.

Fenced in by the color of my skin

my hair

my eyes

the size of the gap between my thighs

and my waist-to-hip ratio.

 

They think they can

tell me who I am

because anyone who says the things I say

can only be a certain way.

It has to fit the pattern.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: ArmorFools. They only see the things

I let them see.

It’s all body armor, down to the last dangly earring

protection from prying eyes and sharp tongues

a shield for my heart.

They can’t see inside of me

where every day I do battle

against the echoes of their voices

their faithful soldiers warring on

long after they have gone.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Silent BattleI fight their quiet whispers.

A sword makes no sound as it slices through flesh,

so it is with words

and images

the unspoken ways they have

of cutting up my heart.

 

I fight

a silent battle

against their judgment

against their hate

against the part of me that waits

for them to change and wants their love.

I battle that most of all.

 

I’ve come to see

they’re not my enemy

not really.

It’s me.

But I’m still trying to find

a suit of armor for my mind.

Can I negotiate a truce

for peace

or will this struggle never cease

between the part of me that’s soft and cares

what they believe

and this warrior rising up, she

who laughs at their demands

like a goddess

who doesn’t give a damn?

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Warrior Rising

If you enjoyed this poem, please give my books a try too! Right now, I’m writing a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Warrior” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All photos from the fashion editorial are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here–it explains what the fashion editorial was all about. Part 3 is here: Facing the EnemyPart 4 is here: Facing the Sun. I will add links to the other posts once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Nyx

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photoFear the night

dark impulses of

passion

dream-drenched mist

curling at the edge

of wakeful thoughts

 

Stay near the fire

don’t question the light

it’s everything that makes

man good and right

and safe and

all that the wild things

can never be

even though they

not you

are free.
Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Be beautiful

but don’t be vain

you’re here to

fill our eyes

and flame

desire

in your cage of

candlelight

hide yourself

the sight

of you

makes shadows

of us all

it’s your fault

that we fall

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photo

You’re everything

we love

we hate

ideal

shame

you captivate

 

Be more

yet less

be good

yet never good enough

think

but not too deeply

lest you hear the voice

inside you

saying

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

It’s time

to leave

this cage of man-made light

where nothing you do

will ever be good

or right or beautiful

enough

it’s time

to cut the vines of fear

 

The night

is beauty too

and you

cannot be free

as long as you

are here.

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Did you enjoy this poem? Then I’d love to show you my books! I’m especially excited about my current project: a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Trapped” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page.  All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or fashion editorial photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on the photoshoot. You can find the other parts of this series here:

Part 2: Facing the Dark (“Trapped” set)

Part 3: Facing the Enemy (“Warrior” set)

Part 4: Facing the Sun (“Flower” set)

I will add links to the other posts once they are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

In June, 2013, an eclectic group of eight descended on a seedy extended-stay hotel outside Council Bluffs, IA. Their mission: to transform a weedy vacant lot into a magical wildwood, and to transform a geeky fantasy novelist into a goddess.

This is the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot, a fashion photography editorial by Hooton Images. 

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but it was darn close. We had among us the following:

  • The Photographers: Heather and Jameson Hooton, the talented force of Hooton Images, creating kick-ass fashion photography in Omaha, NE.
  • The Wardrobe Stylist: Cora Leigh, designer and stylist, with a knack of finding the most amazing stuff on Etsy and vintage stores.
  • The Hair and Make-up Artist: Michelle Beran, who took me from “just got up” to “Wildwood Goddess” in the space of an hour. She spent the afternoon battling uncooperative hair extensions and racing the clock so we could get the perfect sundown shots.
  • The Intern: Uh…what was her real name? Everyone just called her “Intern.” Oh, that’s right–Hannah Kerr! (Just kidding, Hannah–we adore you!) Hannah is an emerging photographer of fashion photography in her own right and she was an essential part of the team for this shoot. She’s got the most adorable pink taser–and at one point nearly had to use it! (Creepy guy in elevator–eek!)
  • The Supportive Spouse: My husband Jason, who did everything from hanging birdcages from trees to chasing away dodgy-looking men. He couldn’t have been more wonderful.
  • The Creative Daughter: My then-12 year old daughter, Catrin, came with us for the day to take behind-the-scenes videos and snapshots and to help in any other way she could. It was a long day and she was fabulous.
  • The Novelist-turned-Model: That’s me! For a day, I got to be the model. It was harder work than I expected, but nothing compared to how hard everyone else worked.

Behind-the-Scenes: Meredith being silly

Such a nerd! Kissey, kissey!

I am the last person I would have ever thought would do a fantasy fashion photography editorial shoot. In high school, I was the geek, never the fashionista. My strength has always been my mind, not my body. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a geeky, flawed, and odd-looking girl with crooked teeth, spotty skin, glasses, and a less-than-Hollywood figure.

But over time, I learned that my feet could dance, my voice could sing, and my hands and my eyes have artistic ability I never knew about. I could tell a story with color and shape and texture, not just words.

As I became an adult and grew more confident about my own style (yes, it took well into my adult life for that to happen), I would see beautiful fashion photography in magazines, and I thought–why shouldn’t that be me? Why not give it a try?

Michelle Beran doing Meredith's hair extensions

That’s Michelle Beran, make-up artist extraordinaire, putting in my hair extensions.

It was an intimidating thought: Me? Model in a fashion photography shoot? Just having professional headshots done for my book covers was stressful enough. But I realized I needed to do this–needed to challenge myself and my commitment to accepting and celebrating the gift of my body. So that settled it. I may not be what fashion designers are looking for to model their next line of clothing, but dammit–I’m worth photographing anyway!

My husband used to say that he wished I could see myself as he sees me, just for a minute. By facing the dark eye of the camera, by letting go of my fear, that finally happened. Far from being the judging, revealing force I always had run from, the camera showed me a version of myself far kinder and more profound than I had been able to see with my own eyes.

Meredith Rose photo

I am beautiful. I am flawed. And some days, the beauty seems to be deeply buried somewhere (maybe in the same place all my missing socks are). But my body is a gift and worthy of being loved and cared for. And yes, even photographed, like art. Because it is.

Heather and Jameson told me that fashion photography and editorials should tell a story. Being a teller of stories already, that worked great for me. I took that advice more literally (pun!) than probably most people would, and actually came up with a simple narrative that we used to group the photoshoot into sets.

The Wildwood Goddess photos tell MY story, and the story of so many women. A story of feeling trapped–by fear, by insecurities, by the expectations and repression of our culture. A story of learning to break away, to fight, to find our inner strength, confidence, to become the people we were meant to be. And a story of finally reaching that place of peace and rest, of knowing who we are and being able to live in that knowledge without striving.

Over the next three weeks, you’ll get to experience that story for yourself. For now, if you’d like to see the series of headshots we did or find out more about the photoshoot, take a look at the Wildwood Goddess photoshoot page.

Meredith Rose photo

If you enjoyed this post, you should try my fiction, too! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

All professional photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

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Steampunk Fashion Trend: Is It Gearing Up for 2015?

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Steampunk Fashion Trend: Is It Gearing Up for 2015?

We’re not even into 2014 yet, but there are already predictions about the fashion trends for 2015–and the one that had everyone buzzing was about steampunk fashion. IBM predicted earlier this year that steampunk would be a major retail trend in 2015. They make these predictions apparently by monitoring discussions on social media sites, forums, and message boards. (Does this blog count? I’ll be happy to mention steampunk fashion more often!)

Oh my Dior | it girl fashion blog had an article about it, too, explaining that steampunk fashion won’t make it to the streets right away, but we’re already seeing more and more Baroque and Victorian elements in fashion lately.

If the steampunk fashion trend does take hold, some of us will be really excited. Other people will probably be disappointed. There’s a certain amount of pride, you could say, in the steampunk world–pride that steampunk fashion and steampunk lifestyle is a subculture or even counter-culture. Steampunk fashion is all about innovation, uniqueness, one-of-a-kind handmade, upcycling, Etsy-esque awesomeness.

So what happens to all that homemade goodness if steampunk fashion goes mainstream? That’s what some steampunkers are worried about. They don’t want to lose the heart of steampunk and have it turn into a mass-marketed, commercialized trend–it’s everything steampunk is not meant to be.

On the other hand, a steampunk fashion trend could be kind of fun. It probably won’t last long, so hard-core steampunk followers will have the playground to themselves again soon. But in the meantime, maybe if there’s a rise in interest in steampunk fashion, it could be an opportunity to get people thinking about what steampunk culture stands for: innovation, forward-thinking, optimism, creativity, respect, manners, and a spirit of adventure.

And it could be a great opportunity for people in the steampunk world to allow their world to grow a little larger and welcome a wider array of people. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing at all.

Besides, even if Charlotte Russe and Forever 21 end up sporting steampunk fashion in their stores, Etsy will always be the place to go for the REAL stuff.

What do you think? Is Steampunk Fashion going to be a thing? I guess we’ll see in about 14 months.

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Did You Make My Jeans?

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Did You Make My Jeans?

When I was in high school and college, Gap was where the popular kids shopped. It’s not that hot now, but about 5-7 years ago, there was a resurgence in “coolness” because of the (RED) campaign. Remember those t-shirts with “inspi(RED)” or “ado(RED)” on them that were a partnership with Bono and supposed to be raising money to fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa? So global. So socially conscious. So…

…full of shit.

Oh, Gap–how thou are shown to be a hypocrite! If you want to promote “socially conscious consumerism” why not start by paying better attention to the working conditions of the clothing factories you contract with to produce your clothing?

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights came out this month with a devastating report about the Next Collections Factory, in Bangladesh. About 70% of the factory’s products are for Gap and its subsidiary company, Old Navy. At this factory, workers are forced to put in sometimes more than 100 hours a week, for pennies an hour, and cheated out of their rightful overtime pay. Pregnant women are illegally fired and denied maternity leave and benefits.

Below is the Institute’s executive summary of the report. You can read their full report here.

Next Collections Sweatshop, part of the Ha-Meem Group in Bangladesh

  • The 3,750-worker Next Collections factory in Ashulia, Bangladesh on the outskirts of Dhaka is part of the Ha-Meem Group, Bangladesh’s second largest garment exporter which owns 26 factories and employs over 30,000 workers.
  • At the Next Collections sweatshop, approximately 70 percent of production is for Gap and Old Navy.  Gap is the largest specialty apparel chain in the U.S.
  • Next Collections workers are forced to toil 14- to 17-plus-hour shifts, seven days a week, routinely putting in workweeks of over 100 hours.  Workers are visibly sick and exhausted from the grueling and excessive hours.
  • Workers live in poverty, earning just 20 to 24 cents per hour.
  • Physical punishment and illegal firings are the norm.
  • Pregnant women are illegally terminated and denied their legal paid maternity leave.
  • For the last two-and-a-half years, Gap has been complicit with Next Collections/Ha-Meem Group in a scam to defraud the workers of their legal wages and benefits.

–Management hands out phony pay slips to pretend that Gap is in compliance with legal hours and wages.

–Workers are paid in cash, off the books and cheated of 15 percent of their grueling overtime hours.  At Next Collections alone, workers are being robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and millions if one includes all the factories of the Ha-Meem Group.

  • Workers live in miserable poverty in tiny primitive hovels.  By the third week in a month, most have no money left for food.
  • Bangladesh garment workers continue to be the hardest workers in the world and are also among the poorest.

As I’m writing this, I am wearing jeans I bought last year at Gap. And I can’t help but wonder about the woman or man who made them. Did they lose a child because mom was pregnant and forced to work too many hours and destroyed her health? Did the person who stitched my jeans go home that night agonizing because she had worked a 20-hour shift and still had no money to buy food for her hungry kids?

These jeans cost about what…maybe $60? The person who made my jeans would have to work 250 hours to pay for them. That’s a week and a half if you count by 24-hour days. It’s 12.5 work days at 20 hours a day. (Remember, the person who made my jeans likely was forced to work 20-hour shifts at a time.)

Compare that to an American worker, even one working at minimum wage, who could earn about enough to buy my jeans in ONE 8-hour work day. And living on minimum wage isn’t easy. $60 a day is not even scraping by. Try living on Next Collections wages: TWO BUCKS for an 8-hour day. That’s it. Even given the currency difference in Bangladesh, that is simply not enough.

Gap Factory Worker

Mazharul, did your wife make my jeans?

I look at the photos of the workers on the report’s website. Some of them look like they could be my age, or my daughter’s age. They’re not so different from me. One of them–Mazharul Islam–reported that he was beaten by the factory director for asking for his wife’s paid maternity leave.

Morium Begum, a 20 year old woman working at the factory, was pregnant, sick, and exhausted. The factory management forced her to work over 100 hours in a week. She miscarried her baby as a result. She says in the report, “For me, it was a loss I will never get over.”

Workers at the Next Collections factory

Morium, did you make my jeans?

I could go on and talk about the other workers mentioned in the report, but I’ll let you read their stories on the website instead. But I wish I could tell all those workers two things:

1) I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what you were being put through, the mistreatment you faced, to make my jeans.

2) Thank you. I love my jeans–they fit well and are comfortable. You did a good job. I just wish you hadn’t had to suffer in the process. You deserve better than that.

I can’t bring myself to shop at Gap anymore, now that I know. The problem is, I’m not sure any other retail store is much better. For all I know, my entire outfit today could be a product of exploitation and suffering of other women and men half-way around the globe.

And as much as I’d love to get on my high horse about that, I honestly don’t know what to do. Changing the global textile and fashion industry is so much bigger than just me. But maybe the first step is just knowing. Just taking the time to ask one simple question–

Who made my jeans?

Gap Factory Worker

Did you make my jeans?

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Emma Watson and the Eight Pairs of Shoes

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Emma Watson and the Eight Pairs of Shoes

According to an article in British Vogue, actress Emma Watson (Bling Ring) owns only 8 pairs of shoes.

Emma Watson says the incredible wardrobes of many celebrities was an eye-opening experience for her while filming The Bling Ring. 

“It’s almost like consumerism as a form of kleptomania,” said Watson. “I’ve got about eight pairs of shoes and that’s it. But it’s easy for me to sound like a total hypocrite because, of course, I’m dressed in designer clothes right now.”

She goes on to comment about how many of the items she saw in Paris Hilton’s collection (they used Hilton’s closet to film a lot of the movie scenes) were unworn, with tags still attached. She observes that Hilton could never possibly wear all those things, and that she must have bought them just to have them.

Many celebrities on the red carpet don’t actually own the designer outfits they’re wearing. Often, those gorgeous dresses or elegant tuxes are borrowed from designers who realize it’s the best kind of advertising they could ask for. On the other hand, It’s also likely that Emma Watson’s shoes probably didn’t come from the clearance racks of DSW, like most of mine do.

Regardless, I think she makes some really great observations. How many people buy stuff just to have it? Do we really even need eight pairs of shoes? I love fashion, and I love shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But most of us have probably known girls (or adult women, too) who look down on other girls for not shopping at the expensive stores, or not owning a huge collection of shoes. Or for not wearing the designer label that is hot at the moment.

Maybe we are (or have been) those girls.

Fashion is fun–but in order for it to stay fun, we all have to resist the urge to make it into a competition. Wearing Miss Me jeans or shopping at Coach doesn’t make a girl a better person or more worthy of love or friendship. It doesn’t make her less worthy, either. Owning 50 pairs of pricey shoes or being able to spend $500 on a dress won’t make you happier or fix whatever problems you have in your life. If it could, you’d see a lot less drama coming from celebs in the gossip mags.

Like Emma Watson says–It’s just stuff. It’s stuff you bought because you wanted it. I like her attitude. I think she seems to know what’s actually important in life.

Money definitely can make life easier–I won’t deny that. Having enough money so that you don’t worry about being able to eat or pay rent, and being able to do fun stuff when you want, and feeling secure about finances–those things are all really important. I don’t want to minimize the pain and fear that poverty inflicts on people.

But I’ve learned that it’s equally important to be content–to find joy wherever you’re at. It’s not always easy. But people who learn contentment are able to be happy and at peace–whether they (like Emma Watson) have 8 pairs of shoes…

Or none at all.

Photo credit: Bert Palmer / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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A Word About Corsets

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A Word About Corsets

Steampunk, goth, historical, fairy tale, sexy–we love our corsets! There’s something oddly romantic about the satin-steel-lacing contraption that helps exaggerate all our best feminine curves.

And what about the fantasy of a totally hot someone unlacing it in candlelight…yeah, I’ll have some of that, please!

Some people believe corsets are a sexist invention men created to keep women literally tied up and physically weak. Others say that women drove the corset craze because it showed the difference between women who were upper-class and fashionable, or virtuous, and women who were poor or unstylish, or immoral.

These days, the corset is a symbol of subculture–especially goth, steampunk, or fetish. And the debate over whether it’s safe or healthy to tight-lace a corset is still going on. But that doesn’t stop fashion designers from using corsets in their designs. Even Burberry got in on corsets with their 2013 spring collection.

Most people don’t wear corsets every day, but if you think about it, our culture still has ways of trying to control women’s bodies and make them over into an idealized, fashionable shape. We just do it by exercise and dieting, now. And, sadly, it still creates a class difference because those in poverty struggle to afford healthy food and often don’t have the time or a space in which to exercise.

I think corsets are fascinating, and wearing one is an interesting experience. On one hand, a corset makes me feel regal and sexy. On the other hand, after awhile, it makes my back hurt, and I get tired of not being able to move or breathe freely. I’m glad I don’t have to wear one, especially every day. But once in awhile, it’s so fun!

The female characters in my Alchemy Empire series wear corsets a lot–it’s steampunk, after all. But some of the things they do while wearing corsets is probably not very realistic. However, some modern corset-wearers claim that they can run and jump and do just about anything in a corset–except maybe touch their toes.

If you want to try wearing a corset, check out this article and this one on how to choose a corset. And see this video for the proper way to lace a corset:

Featured Image Photo credit: Tara Spalty / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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A Brief Ode To Little Tiny Short-Shorts

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A Brief Ode To Little Tiny Short-Shorts

it’s the summer
of the
Denim Apocalypse
where all the
jeans in the world
have been ruthlessly destroyed

leaving bikini sized
strips
to cover our bits
and pocket linings
to hang lower than hems

we have become a people
beset with wedgies
as our faithful jeans
so cruelly dismembered
seek to hide from public view

our little butt-cheeks
shiver
peeking out from under
the ragged remains

brave survivors
in this new fashion
dystopia

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