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Kindergarten Graduation

Honorable Mention — 2016 Poetry Contest

Mom said, Kiss her hand.
I didn’t want to kiss my teacher;
especially not on the bulging
green vein of her thin hands.
I think she had red hair. She was
kind. She sent a memo home:
the boys shouldn’t drop their pants
all the way when using the urinal. “Fathers
teach zippers to your sons.”
Zippers were beyond her grasp.

I said: No, I’ll just hug her
like everyone else
when they get their diploma. At home
I spoke a language of stolen kisses.
No. Pocałuj jej ręke. Show the Americans
that you are not American. Unfortunately
that was abundantly clear. Already
I had kissed the face of that girl
who was always sucking snot
back up into her nose
under the table
(also full of boogers)

and I stole
I stole Legos and I cried
and cried so hard
on the first day
when mom left me
and I couldn’t explain the awesomeness
of Mark Buttrock’s Ninja
Turtle sneakers
except in a language
no one bothered
to listen to,
that no one heard.

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Peter Burzynski is a first-year PhD student in Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MFA in Poetry from The New School University, and an MA in Polish Literature from Columbia University.

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