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.