Do Nguyen Mai

Do Nguyen Mai — name written family name to middle name to given name — is a Vietnamese American poet currently residing in the Greater Los Angeles Area. She is the founder of Rambutan Literary and the co-founder of CA-25 United for Progress. Her debut poetry collection, Ghosts Still Walking, is available from Platypus Press. Visit her at


Portrait of the Poet as a Butterfly


I flicker, I shiver in the breeze,

I light a cigarette to smell it burn,

a side effect of breathing,

a consequence of seeing

unveiled shadows.


Blacklight, churchlight,

I unfold at the touch,

tender & crystalline,

malleable & austere,

soft & unyielding.

I am a rusted iridescence

& you are the polish,

I am a decaying façade

& you are naïve eyes,


paper-crowned boy,

you burn before me, for me,

I have the heart of a moth

in a body of ruptured glass,

your hands a lure, I could land

if I did not fear igniting,


& if at daylight I should surrender

to the unrelenting jaws of inanimacy,

if I should fall to the dissatisfaction

of unimpaired sight,

at least you once saw me beautiful,


at least you saw me

pppppppppppppppppppyou saw me

glide, flutter,




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