Kevin Phan


After Michael Dumanis

Rinse burns with vinegar.
Blueprints are useless.

Try to dodge that which would
cleave you in a heartbeat.

When clutching a live wire
wear work gloves & hope.

While your boots are steel-toed
nothing will save you.

Take each flower as a reminder
you’re in for a dusty future.

Do not play with yourself
in the shower.

Do not launch hot clusters
of swearwords.

Leave luscious Bianca alone;
her clutch is sharp & rough.

Never practice prostrations
at the Temple of Longing.

Do not confuse
vice grips for crescent wrenches,

caffeine for enlightenment,
a tribe of rainbows for help.

Do not snapshot the temples.
Do not leave unlocked the front gate.

You will grow cuts.
You will seek bandages & gauze.

You will fail to mend in time.
You will grow new cuts.

When you enter the bathhouse
& discover a razor blade in each palm

then you will learn
the sound ivy makes

as it turns to crystals
in your dreams.

Wake up naked & bright
for all the world to see

& bury your sad pilgrim heart
though each heart is make-believe.

The version of Kevin Phan’s “Fledgling” that appears here supersedes the one that was published in the print edition of Subtropics 19.