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We blow our paper on toe rings & studded spandex, then go all-pennies-in on who’s first to leave the water undressed—

Artwork by Alex Walsh

2016 Greg Grummer Poetry Award Winner, Judged by Jericho Brown

Rochelle Hurt


We blow our paper on toe rings & studded spandex, then go all-pennies-in on who’s first to leave the water undressed—
or better yet: who’s wet & naked longest. Watch: under pink-sky thunder we pander to a stand of denim & tall-boy cans. Six packed
into the tiny vinyl pool, we’re nothing if not a set, weaving knees & elbows in a cat’s cradle of regrets. O audience,
don’t think we can’t hear the storm coughing our names through the streets as window-women shut their eyes to us. Don’t assume we can’t see
from here how many selves we’ll have to synchronize in making sense of nights like this. Our love of leering men.
Poor is an easy place to sink—trashy, too, but trying to surface alone is a risk not one of us is taking. Not one & not none. When lightning scatters itself on the skin
of the water, we crystallize with laughter. Our bodies’ fractal tugs of longing split the clouds. We rip
the light & wrap our hips in it. We sieve the sky into our lips. We tilt the kaleidoscope eye of sex, and you see it:
girl is a gift, but in plural a performance—girls, girls, girls! Lit now, translucent men call from the deck: crazy sluts, so we slip
their words over our heads & climb out cloaked in their dazzling fear of us. We shiver & drip & glisten & pull the ladder up.

Rochelle Hurt is the author of In Which I Play the Runaway (forthcoming in fall 2016), winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize, and The Rusted City, published in the Marie Alexander Series from White Pine Press (2014). Her poetry has been included in Best New Poets 2013 and awarded prizes from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, and Poetry International. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have also appeared in journals like Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, and The Southeast Review. She is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati and Assistant Editor for the Cincinnati Review.

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