Rochelle Hurt

Avon Grotesque
after Nailwear Pro+

I. Ruby Slippers

So American, my pleasure in getting took. Away: one giddy heel-snap had my hands and eyes packed for a man who dropped me miles past gone.
                                                                                                                                  A rube in rook shoes, I walked some change loose. Found kin in the suburbs of rose-papered windows—yuppies love getting took too. So femme, their optimism.
                                                                                                                      Right off, Sylvie—gaudy priss-dealer to all the block moms—high-robbed me for red press-ons. Godless and mom-hungry, I clung like a charm to her purse. Supped on her uppers and sunk into piles of polish and wax and glue.
                                                                                    No place like out from under, Sylvie sung. So Hollywood, her largesse. Houseshod, I became her delivery-pet: supplier and supplicant, superb subterfuge.

II. Golden Vision

A girlhood lobbying for ungot baubles bloomed to prep for hawking little pots of gold. Sylvie was a con who mommed me under winged eyelids, but it came with training:
                  my inborn corneal spectrum of pinks projected as swindler’s optimism. I sold while Sylvie softened her edge and junked up on catchpennies.
                                                                                                                              Soon got myself a bevy and said to them: a rosy face suggests a better place—manifest besting of self. Service is easy: mine your Ps and Qs for capital from lower cases. Look at me: pawn turned Queen.
                                        Good little bets, they believed me. So I built myself a woman-tower made of lips and eyes and toes: from the ground up a roundup of women buying women buying woman suits.

III. Lucky Penny

As suckers would have it, pluck alone wins trust and coins. Slick sellers tell it worse. Sylvie said to worth your customers—
                                                                                you have to halve them into trash and threats based on buys: blues and whites on eyes go left, nudes on nails go right; poor puts on a show, androgyny is rich if it takes three coats—both call it choice.
                                                                                                                                                      A fickle trickle-down though: my numbers rose like skirts when I clowned my lash and pout, as if fate spit me out their luckpoor polish girl.
                                                                                                    Money loves talk of change from inside, so I swallowed their bills and chased success tales. Sylvie retired with a closet of free bronzer and ten USA pins.

IV. Decadence

A decade deals a hundred folds but I flat my bills in a stack of catalogues while narrative looms. How long till up-and-coming becomes comeuppance—
                                                                                                                                  rouge rots to goo and lacquer dries to glass. Sylvie’s product motto: nothing old can stay. Even her mind in the end flaked away.
                                                            So no coddling twilight. My long-term is to ward off a wearing-out by dipping out young and donning all my stock into the ground. Paint me into a stunning bruise: purple tips, cerulean lips, lids a neon jaundice. Name it Death Rococo.
                                        Better still: skip the formaldehyde and fill me with glitter. When they dig me up to clear a Walmart lot, imagine the beauty they’ll find.


Rochelle Hurt is the author of two collections of poetry, In Which I Play the Runaway (2016), which won the Barrow Street Book Prize, and The Rusted City (2014), which was selected for the Marie Alexander Series in prose poetry from White Pine Press. Her work has been included in The Best New Poets anthology series and she's been awarded prizes and fellowships from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, Phoebe, Poetry International, Vermont Studio Center, Jentel, and Yaddo. She is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Slippery Rock University. She also runs the review site The Bind.