Floyd Cheung

Floyd Che­ung teaches at Smith Col­lege in Northamp­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts.  His poems have appeared in var­i­ous jour­nals includ­ing The Apple Val­ley Review, qar­rt­siluni, and Rhino.





brought a book
but watch her instead
only the width of the bar
between me and her work­sta­tion,
heat of the wood-fired oven 

she kneads expertly
her brown fin­gers slen­der and sure
but must be in train­ing
while twirling the dough
says shit when she rips it
mounds my green salad too high
pop­ping into her mouth
the fallen leaves


Crow Catch­ing

A few deft steps.
Strik­ing with both hands,
my father caught the crow–
wings pinned,
talons pointed away. 

We had been strolling–
my mother and father,
my wife and me.
Their first visit
to our first home,
an apart­ment over­look­ing
a dump­ster near the levee. 

I never saw him
do this before,
though I knew
my grand­mother
some­times made
bird soup.

Per­for­mance now,
pro­vi­sion then.



Billy Collins writes of read­ers
who tie up poems, beat them with hoses,
tor­ture con­fes­sions out of them. 
But some poems are so strong
they can­not be bound. 

We can wres­tle with them
like Jacob with the angel,
but they grant us no bless­ing.
These seraphim–
ropes burn right off their blaz­ing bodies.

Only turn the page and hope
they let us be.


On Eat­ing Peanuts

It only hurts when I chew
on the left side of my mouth.
My den­tist tried three times
to fix the offend­ing tooth,
but I will not let him try again.
It’s not his fault. He trained at Harvard. 

Who am I to live pain-free?

Now I’ve the oppor­tu­nity to remem­ber
frailty, mor­tal­ity.  Pain
a part of life, each peanut a jolt
of aware­ness and sin.
Thomas More had his hair shirt,
I molar #19.