Narcissus in Stripes

As in so many fashion shots,

the clothes don’t really go together,

a strategy I suppose intended

to draw attention to the individual pieces,

in this case, all stripes, a crinkly

banded-collar shirt, untucked,

sleeves rolled, collar open, though

the camera’s gaze surveys him from the back,

slightly toward his left profile,

the photographer having posed him

angled back as if leaning against

an invisible wall, a posture exaggerating

the width of his shoulders and further

slimming his already slender waist

and legs in the snug wide-striped

trousers cut from cotton or maybe linen,

smooth and trim in the rear, his

buttocks not pronounced, front

pocket puckered just a bit,

the pattern biased along the leg seam,

lending a rather zebra-like effect,

maybe just a streak of wildness.

The model, dropping forward his neck,

bows his wavy dark-haired head

to peer into a circular mirror

the he holds out erect in front,

to peer from under languid lids

at his own smooth face, not

as if he’s checking hair or makeup,

but as if, liking what he sees,

he regrets his own uniqueness,

the fact of mere reflection,

the cold and lifeless glass.

 

Note: the poem alludes to a photograph by the late David Armstrong of model Simon Nessman for the Narcisse series in Vogues Hommes International Spring/Summer 2012.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper

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Clothes Horse

Appearing in a magazine whose editors

perennially advise ‘wear grey suits’

and whose actual readers wear their

plaid shirts and selvedge jeans with

simple trainers and plain brown boots,

he advertises the latest line of Versace,

the line of his body tilted back in profile,

hips thrust forward in leather trousers

adorned with copper studs and chains,

shoulders arched way back as if he’s

leaning against an imaginary wall

(a pose that’s hard to hold when

standing, but perhaps he’s on his knees,

kept just out of the shot), so that the

unbuttoned silken shirt—its black

background figured with large, circular

images of a feather-headdressed Indian

mounted on a dappled horse, unexpectedly

bridled, and bordered with colour-bold

geometry at collar and tail—

unfurls, flaglike, in the electric breeze

of an out-of-frame fan, coincidentally

revealing his muscular abs and pecs,

gym-chiseled and bottle-bronzed,

tousled golden-blond mane meticulously

misted with a spray bottle to make him

look just a little sweaty, though his skin

looks perfectly dry, his angled jaw firm,

lips petulant, and eyes shadowed, turned

slightly toward the viewer, their gaze

combining invitation with challenge,

as if he would allow you to mount

but probably throw you. Maybe, though,

he would leave you the shirt as he

galloped off into the dull grey backdrop

probably chosen to please style editors.

 

Copyright 2014

T. Allen Culpepper