God of the Kitchen

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Somewhere, emerging from four hundred degree fryers,

skittering and popping with ethereal heat and pain,

it rises like an Aztec god of fear and holy retribution,

but where feathers should cloak its back and shoulders

with royal luminescent plumage, cascade its wings

in a plush coat of white so pure and blinding like

 

the perfect ermine fur dreams to be, instead a golden

crispy skin still crackles from the bath of roiling,

singing grease. The beak’s cruel scimitar glints toward

 

us like the useless tongs we raise now, dull tools

to pull the first pieces floating to the top as heavy

thighs still nestle in the oil before a last ascent to light

 

and steam. Our ghost, our king pinches us in its fierce

grip, shakes us dry and clean of sweat and flour and hope

before we are cut open, emptied of heart and liver

 

and all the rest spilling to the floor’s drains, butter-

flied and separated into our nine or eight pieces,

neck and head magically disappearing as the offering

 

of herbs and spices, fat and bone and blood and flesh

are spread forth, arranged by parts and pieces on silver

trays waiting for worship in these altars of warming air.

 

Photo By: Jim Nix

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About Author

Jon Tribble is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry published by Southern Illinois University Press. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Poetry, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, and The Jazz Poetry Anthology. His work was selected as the 2001 winner of the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize from Sarah Lawrence College. He teaches creative writing and literature, and directs undergraduate and graduate students in internships and independent study in editing and literary publishing for the Department of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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