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constant flux

CAS for Database

Hans Yang

San Diego, CA, USA

Canyon Crest Academy


constant flux

you met her yesterday when you were both cornered/ cornered by the mundanity of foul existence & the incessant chatter of a tsingtao-chugging-son-of-a-bitch roommate into the rickety aluminum stool at the bar counter/ driftwood discarded from the other side of the ocean/washed ashore with maroon-and-satin dress plastered to hips/depending on the person she could be Jonah in the whale or Chang’e on the moon with /those billowing obsidian-shine strands draping across protruding shoulders/ hell, obsidian shine like the friction-burned tires of souped-up Miatas that you scrubbed for hours on weekdays at the San Marcos Shell– but put that shit to rest/you came for the beer in the glass  & not/your own hazy reflection at the bottom of it/ five shots; enough to forget your english name and keep your /chinese one but /four will suffice to make the bus ride back a little shorter/ with Baby Keem roaring in deaf ears/ with knuckles on plastic ridge/with her palms pressed to the window beside you/and you are not/sure how it happens but with a trading of/ forgotten sentences and the knowledge of each’s palms/and perhaps the protein /gossamer of sickly lips/ you both enter 293 Valencia through two doors and end up in/the same room; your roommate is still out but it goes unspoken, there is no sex expected/where change is a euphemism for pain. only words on lip, only obligations where/ once, she begins, nu wa lived in a/ shanghai flat/ a computer scientist & had a ponytail & glasses/ whispering c-plus-plus into wukong’s ear to etch programs in mud/but over time she became interested in the literature of the mud-figures  she created and came down into the dirt on a 747 to/be among them and the patch of dirt that she landed on was called california / scratching ethereal figures in the squalor with toyota-wheels/ but her sperm-bank and egg-carrier grew stark/ in their fury and reached across/the ocean through phone-screens and concrete hands in the sun/ sweeping away all that was good/and in the golden rubble she/ found fucking san marcos where her eyes bathe fluorescent in the glaze of creme-brulee, leftovers from three days prior that a broiler couldn’t even save/ where the hands of a stranger rest on her half-crescent shoulders & the half-congealed vermillion of her /tears– god-fucking-dammit, too many things are halved/ a package of shabu beef at HMart half-off that you still can’t afford/ a sheaf of papers on the wire-rack, two days late to Prof. Kearny, half-credit despite your protests/ fuck your father’s musings, cao, if you could ever be half the student your sister was/ Kearny said the abysmal midterm grade was a result of  ‘death by a thousand papercuts’, no, professor, these are nails/ no, mother, I don’t resent you but I refuse to see you/no–  she can’t stay, she has a/train in the morning/and it seems that the only thing permanent in the room is the table; even time is an anachronism/the door closes and you/struggle to remember her

name/ oh, what are men and women/folding through seams of fingers & kitchen blinds, gone in the

constant flux?

wukong- Sun Wukong, the Monkey King

nu wa- in Chinese mythology, the goddess that created humanity

cao- expletive, dammit; fuck


True to its title, “constant flux” remains in perpetual, restless motion, carrying readers on a bus ride through the gritty streets of San Marcos, but simultaneously, on a transcendent journey through humanity’s creation. Yang delivers us plenty of thought-provoking allusions to Chang’e, Jonah, and most importantly, the goddess Nu Wa, who is portrayed in delightfully anachronistic fashion as a computer scientist, programming humans from clay through C++. What does it feel like to be “driftwood”? And is anything truly permanent? With its roaming trains of thought, this poem captures how it feels to live in an ever-changing world, where the memories of last night can be obscured by five shots of beer and vanish, inexplicably, with the morning train.


Hans Yang is a poet, prose-writer, and screenwriter. He is an alumnus of the Iowa Young Writers Studio, the Adroit Summer Mentorship Program, and a 2023 National YoungArts Finalist in Novel. He is the founder and the prose Editor-In-Chief of the Metaphysical Review. The poetry winner of the national Young Authors Writing Competition, his work is published in the Lumiere Review, Columbia College Chicago, BSLit and more. Find his work at

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