Artiste Maurice Bennett Explains His
“Burning Desire”

Christine Rhein

a picture of the Mona Lisa on the side
of a building using 2,124 slices of toast

I know what you’re thinking-
wasn’t it bad enough?– her likeness
stamped on socks and shower curtains,
shaped into cookie jars, mustached
in milk or with matching goatee,
morphed into Mona Lewinsky
and pink muppet Mona Pigga.
But this is different. This is Art, inspired,
yes, by an overtoasted piece of Wonderful,
my knife scraping away charred crumbs,
revealing flesh tones underneath –
breath gone chiaroscuro, features
emerging from shadow, patterns of singe.
Though don’t think it’s easy, browning
thousands of squares to specific hues,
or burning them – black and blacker –
without setting off the smoke alarm,
arranging all those right angles,
so unlike the contours of her shoulders,
her bosom, which alone measures 18 by 27
luscious slices – my happiest days
on the scaffold, engulfed, dwarfed
by her dough-beige cleavage.
Picture the tension, the crowd watching
as I assembled her giant eyes watching them
no matter where they stood. And then the vast
mystery of her smile, lips I longed to kiss
despite their yeast-formed craters.
It’s true – I love her. I’ve even tasted
her, her crunch melting on my tongue,
her voice whispering in m dreams
where, there too, I protect her from mold
and birds, as I magically float about her,
my Lisa, my darling, my toast.

Christine Rhein’s poems have appeared in Alligator Juniper, Atlantic Review, The MacGuffin, New Zoo Poetry Review, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. She has received scholarships from the Associated Writing Programs and Cranbrook Writers Guild. Christine thanks Google.com for the search result on mona lisa toast!