Kyle Liang


Where I'm from, summer storms bring carpets
of bunker fish carcasses to shore.

When heavy rain falls, the fish all swim
the same direction toward shallow waters,

suffocating themselves and each other. Sadly,
it is instinct to crave the taste of salt. And

in the body, water follows salt.
And in the body, excess salt causes retention.

Lungs fill like two waterlogged barrels
when we retain. They say it feels like drowning.

They say the right answer is often the simplest.
What is the difference between drowning and

suffocating. If I drown my fists into the earth then
what will grow next spring? The difference

between drowning and flooding is the subject. Perhaps
the better question is when the flood is coming,

and who will be next to me when it rains.



Sudden Collapse

Yesterday, a three-story building in Carroll Gardens collapsed

Locals say the walls had been bowing
for months, bulging over the sidewalk

Passerby walked around it like a slow-growing puddle

worth stopping for

Everyone in Brooklyn already asking
what will replace it

Perhaps a new Trader Joe's
or coffee shop

An entrance is created by an exit

I imagine the bricks exploded upon impact

—a violent, red-brown,
plume of dust The aftermath

of an infrastructure that retaliated
against itself In Taipei,

my father and I rode in the backseat of a taxi past all his favorite spots
as a kid in awe

He pointed out how buildings aged
from top to bottom—

businesses built on top of one another to save space

Generations standing on each other’s shoulders



Kyle Liang is the son of Taiwanese and Malaysian immigrants. He's author of the chapbook How to Build a House (Swan Scythe Press, 2018), and his work has appeared in Best of the Net, AAWW's The Margins, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, wildness, and elsewhere. His poems have been nominated for the Best New Poets and Pushcart Prize anthologies. Kyle is an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University, where he teaches a course on Health, Aging and Intersectionality, and lives in New York, NY, where he works as a physician assistant in internal medicine.