Vitriolage sounds heady as perfume, earthy as privates on parade.
But a word you’d think to find next to décolletage, inside the Moulin Rouge
Is French for burning the skin off – and more: taking a face and making it unmade.

This one’s lucky: seemingly a squirt of blackcurrant, dry-dripping down her cheeks
It’ll fade, in time. Absorbed, in time, as plain old jealousy and pique.
But if your face’s fully bathed in acid, even ‘recovery’ is emptied of normality.
No make-up can make up for its effects: indelible mark of desire, thwarted.
Permanent marker of respect – inverted, warped and grossly distorted.

In Paris and long ago London, this was passionel, chemical and industriel.
Later, out East at least as far as Bhopal, the criminal commuted from factory to familial.
Now entering the century of the selfie, effacing others has found its way home
In the âge of Instagram, vitriolage comes into its own.