They were selling phoenixes

in the form of untransformed ash.
In the middle of a Costco
in Connecticut, I said Gimme.

You said, Let’s do the most New England
thing we can think of. Let’s go sailing
in khaki shorts. I’ll bring the chowder,
you bring our phoenix.

Our phoenix would increase
productivity by fashioning a new
type of pushpin. Our phoenix
would help clean the bathroom,

our email inboxes. Make that three phoenixes!
we were about to say. But then saw
the cheery aproned employee, his tray of

free samples, our fellow wholesale members
devouring the ash, the whole package
designed in Brooklyn, assembled in Beijing
a long line of stay-at-home dads trying

to digest the myth, the power
in imported powder state.
A woman in an orange cardigan
came by, watched along with us.

She said, Tried it before. Just makes you
shit weird. But isn’t it something,
the hope for, I don’t know, more?

Chen Chen is a University Fellow in creative writing at Syracuse University, where he also serves as Poetry Editor for Salt Hill. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, Crab Orchard Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Connotation Press, Split This Rock (Poem of the Week) and Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, among other places. He has received fellowships from Kundiman, Tent: Creative Writing, and the Saltonstall Foundation.