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