Sally Burnette

the rouge dream

barbie’s face down in her bathtub full of vinegar
which is supposed to accentuate any red in her hair

but mostly makes it stiff & brittle
& her skin taut & sandy

she’s eye to eye with the drain
& a submerged voice that whispers

keep your beauty; it is a precious possession
she jumps up soaking the linoleum

& stands in front of the vanity
opens her left hand & finds

a balled-up page from betty crocker’s cookbook

with an arrow pointing through
at MARSHMALLOW FROSTING on the next page

red devils food she says would be a good name
for a nail polish & she tucks the paper under her right breast

& marches out the front door onto dot ave
floats three blocks to ashmont st wearing only

a daisy-printed cake-stained apron
& the peabody square clock winks its big white eye

she blushes & tries covering herself & turns
the corner seeking refuge in the BEAUTY BOX

after all she was expecting a shipment
of esteé lauder swiss strawberry lipstick

but the store isn’t there     just a dumpster
two cars       a man with his hand to his ear

a green sign reading O’BRIEN’S WINES & LIQUORS
no one’s inside except for a stray tabby

she runs her fingers over the aisles
of toilet paper & instant potatoes & dog food &

a pale blue can of fancy feast which she peels open
pours into her hands & applies to her face

blending out from her nose to her hairline
she spies a bag of flamin’ hot cheetos

rips it & rolls each craggy stick
between her puckered fingertips

& taps the pigment on the apple
of each cheek & blends again

into her temples & hair
& she catwalks toward her reflection

the perfect glow she says
ghostly across a row of four loko


sally burnette is originally from North Carolina but currently lives in Boston, where they teach at Emerson. Their work has appeared recently in Nat. Brut, Dream Pop Journal, and BOAAT and is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Review and Yes, Poetry.

JD Thornton