WRITTEN BY KYLE TIANSHI
in flushing there is the old bakery / that steams with yeasty exhaust / each morning / in flushing there is the baker / each morning / who kneads cold butter into raisin-speckled dough / who fills gaps in his pastries / with almond cream / and rings up two pork floss bao daily for / the blond jogger / the blond jogger / who hunkers between and around / catcallers and pigeonwatchers on thirty-first avenue / on the way to physical therapy / whose ebony locks are hued / flaxen by the hairdresser / who sears hair with a chipped flat iron / who mutters in rapid cantonese / about her / dead boyfriend / the boyfriend who died in a / cycling accident four months / prior, skull concussed / immediately upon impact / drunken sedan nosed into Flushing Creek / passenger in the shotgun seat a Jewish-born / Buddhist / who the next day revoked his / faith on the mahogany veranda / of the han ma temple, agarwood / incense rising heavenward /maybe to see if there’s really / anything up there / in the high places / and below under the / smoke-kissed steps of the basilica / there sits a homeless man shrouded / in the fumes of a smoldering cigar / there adjacent the shade of a / fig tree he watches the not-monk / there he lies huffing and puffing / on that roll of chinese tobacco he / swiped from the smoke shop / four blocks east / whose steel window grates do not / shut properly at night / whose owner drinks away the / rift / he’s gouged between / himself and his daughter with sickly sweet / sherry and / sherry, his daughter, who fills her / cramped flat with the saccharine of / the butterfly lover’s concerto despite / calloused fingertips, knotty, gory, with / a neighbor who occasionally accompanies / her lover-to-lover on a plastic keyboard / a neighbor who moved in / four months ago after / his loft burned down / his loft, which faded from off-white to black / to nothing because of a fallen feng shui / candle, one fallen
candle, which / wasn’t even his, which / appeared in his mailbox / by way of an unqualified delivery driver / who found his truck in complete / gridlock along flushing creek / after dropping off the candle / who found himself floating away / who found himself in a deep trance / staring at the pindrop / red and mercury haze / of the reflected water / watching / ripples causing ripples causing ripples / dimpled in blinking skyline / one thing to the next / all / part of a great / big something or the other / fingers clasped / within / fingers / clasped––
and the sunken car rises from the gaping / abyss / of the river / and the road begins to move again / and life begins to churn again / and the driver navigates to the old bakery / where he makes one final delivery / and he purchases a pork floss bao for the trip home / and the baker nods ceremoniously at the / four dollar tip he leaves / and the baker takes off his gloves / and the baker doesn’t realize how many
separate him from / everybody else and / everybody from / everybody else, but / it’s okay, because they’re all / together, close together, and / it’s miraculous that people can pass each other on / gum-smeared sidewalks and / meet face-to-face in this empty, disquieting / cosmos / atoms clustered together in strange ways / walking and talking as if / human, almost human.
Kyle Tianshi is a seventeen-year-old student from San Diego, California. He wrote his first book at seven and has since self-published five novels. He directed a documentary, Rinna, about a Ukranian immigrant classical pianist, and composed the soundtrack for his film using excerpts from classical Russian music. Kyle has a minor planet named after him by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory for his research on detecting microplastics in water. In his free time, Kyle enjoys learning Latin, reading Christopher Nolan screenplays, watching baby Pekingese videos, and cooking good food.