Uncontrolled Burn

I carve your name into an apple’s skin,
intent on taking you in. The fruit, a bruised
oracle bone. Giant sequoias begin
anew in fire, loosed from their coned corkscrews
of quiet. Hopeless pyromantics,
we burn down the aviary to prove
that phoenixes still soar. It’s true—the fruit
doesn’t fill me, the blackened glyphs of its
name rattling like knucklebones in my belly.
And yet, I feel my own skeleton thrumming
below me—gold firecrackers bark as Tết springs
internal. At the molecular level,
lions dance. Their purring, a portent, slurred.
A phoenix? Simply the least flammable bird.

Steven Duong is a Vietnamese American poet from San Diego, California and a student of English at Grinnell College. His poems are featured or forthcoming in Salt Hill, Academy of American PoetsColumbia Poetry ReviewCrab Creek Review, Sugar House Review, Pacifica Literary Review, The Penn Review, Rust+Moth, and other venues. He lives in rural Iowa with some good friends

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