Illustration by Kat Morgan


At the construction site the bulldozer works days & nights.
No, it is the man inside who works. The man & his machine
are one. After the stars & dogs & coffees brewed with hands
of his loved one, her night hair of soft river,
out of his own volition the man chose to participate
in this heavy-lifting labor. Wrong, it’s the machine that does.
The man, as he desires, is the mastermind of the machine,
like a torn meat that drives any carnivore crazy.
No more than twenty-five, the man’s knotted forearm grips
the handle & the machine’s hydraulic stick follows—
an extension of his body & to that extent, his mind. His mind,
as we know it, does not want to be a man, or anything
with a preconceived structure. But how can he resist
this pleasure, his ripped thighs harvesting, his glazed nape
taut as a stag’s skin, discharging summer rain. It is the mind
that cannot resist this sweet perk of the earth. It is the mind
that tames the bulldozer’s tender monstrosity & orders
it to pick up, with connivance, those dusk-damaged bones
for its master & dig into the deep-delved darkness,
an interior otherwise unattainable. At some evenings, the man
leaves the construction site for steaks & candles & wine
thickened as plagued blood, musing the neck of his wife,
whose good flesh continuous as his dreams
in which the earth will never betray him, for he is its filial son,
competent at his duty: fill the earth & subdue it.
Then the machine, without its master, lowers its bucket in rain.
Then through the hard latticework of this city, the cold sight
of the sodium light arrives late, discriminating the crane’s rusted
limbs. Its metal drilled by a known silence. It hurts to look at it.
A sad thing. The machine still is not a part of anything.

Shangyang Fang

Shangyang Fang grew up in Chengdu, China, and writes both in English and Chinese. A recent graduate from Michener Center for Writers, he is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. His debut poetry collection is forthcoming in 2021 (Copper Canyon Press).