Who Art in Heaven
unknown noun meaning the misuse (abuse)
of a word, an (in)appropriate metaphor.
Follow orders. The sun may not represent
the sun. A toothpick/brush doesn’t mean
It means hiding. Breading brisk.
Sharp as the eyes of a bat. The clearer ear of a snake.
Follow orders. Create refracted monster
ballades. Misconstrued, reappropriated,
consumed, reclaimed. Fail better.
Fertile as crescent. Hotter than hell. A dry martini
is an empty glass.
Hard times. Difficult pastrami. Daddy as mommy.
Seahorse. De-horsed. God as father. God as son,
God as ghost. Father as host.
Father. Failure. Failed metaphor.
Absent father. Speaking farther. The love of a father.
I may redact the text.
Rome—My father sat there
for days waiting to see how
much the pontiff had died.
He wasn’t that bad just yet.
Smoke rose and the cardinals
chirped. My father wasn’t dead.
Yet, he stood
in a circle looking at the grave
way the flags would wave. He
grew thin eating the way that
the Italians behaved. Confused
he took the four tongues he owned
and spoke them in the way Italians ate.
Gingerly, he moved his lips
and tongues but all four became stifled
by the wind, by the shooting of guns.
I don’t think he prayed, he should have
just to be safe. Keys had gone missing.
His luck was always in his hardening.
He’d run with flame. A cow kicked him
Protesting cream for take. After refusing
to join the Party. He’d paid his own
way into business. His, a spherical shape.
He’d boiled trees and saved toys
with tape. He’d stuck out his nose.
Broiled skins of roe. Baked cheeses as clay.
All around him clay and paper and bone.
The rosaries swayed speaking clean
the happenings of days. Guards stood
puffing their cuffs, puffing their chests
as birds offering seeds. They were
as the pontiff: hungry, dead, dying,
hovering, backs curved, organs singing,
I want to be a ninja
so fucking bad. Yes.
Perhaps not an orphan
bastard rat clinging
to the world beyond
drywall. Not necessarily
the most educated serpent
sliming land, simmering
sea. But for the regality
of being a tiger.
The absolutely illegal
lethality of such a cat. I
haven’t earned my
stripes. It isn’t easy
to become a tiger,
especially as a young man.
I know you like
I know the teakettle.
We were friends
during the war,
but now, like, has
lost its luster. We
used to sell lemonade
to kids who weren't brave
enough to pee
in the snow. We know
better now. Vodka has
a grave. I'd rather
be cremated. It
sounds more culinary
Can life be wrought
from rot? Forge me
a forgery from stainless
steel. Scrub it clean
with a woolen mess
of metallic pubes.
The tips of my spatula
as sharp as my knife,
dull as my spoons. A
cook has to be a butcher
just as much as a cannibal
has to be a murderer.
Think about that word—
murderer. It changes
everything unless it's
chicken on my board.
Red for red, green for
greens, yellow birds,
blue fish, brown cooked,
white for dairy and bread.
The code corrodes. Which
shall I slice you on?
Peter Burzynski is a third-year PhD student in and Graduate Assistant Coordinator of Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.F.A. in Poetry from The New School University, and a M.A. in Polish Literature from Columbia University.
In between his studies, he has worked as a chef in New York City and Milwaukee. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from The Best American Poetry Blog, Thin Air, Prick of the Spindle, Working Stiff, Thrush Poetry Review, Your Impossible Voice, RHINO, and Forklift Ohio, amongst others.