Home > Translation > Los Angeles and Hong Kong: two poems

Los Angeles and Hong Kong: two poems

January 20, 2011

by Floyd Cheung


At Queen’s Bakery, Los Angeles

In my mind’s Cantonese,
my favorite pastry sounds
like the words I know for
assassinate ride horse:

Saat keh mah
syllables spliced together
from Chinese gangster films.

The worker points and says,
You mean rice puffs?
I nod but think of the hero shot dead,
his rickshaw driver oblivious.


On Jogging in Hong Kong with My Daughter

Five years ago, I jogged alone—
my first visit to the land of my birth
after a long absence.
I noted the tai chi practitioners’ slow elegance,
toddlers’ first steps,
old folks sitting still,
other joggers apparently not noticing me—
a rare sensation
in Western Massachusetts,
where neighbors make assumptions
about where I’m from,
what I do, who I am.

Today, my daughter jogs with me.
She notes the birds,
asks what kind they are.
I don’t know their species,
but we conclude
that they are Chinese.


NOTE: This poem originally appeared in The Aurorean.

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Floyd Cheung was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Las Vegas. He teaches at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in the Apple Valley Review, the Bryant Literary Review, the Naugatuck River Review, Rhino, and other journals.

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  1. nathan h
    January 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    very, very nice.

  2. January 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Enjoyed the poems.

  3. January 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I like both poems but especially the first one–how lightly you handle the layers of your mixed cultures; the images work well!

  4. Jane Thurber
    January 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

    The two poems are beautiful juxtaposed to each other. They certainly encourage us to wonder, and especially about how easily we make mistaken assumptions! Though you seem to be focused on cross cultural misunderstandings, can you also be suggesting the nature of much poetry — elusive and tantalizing?

  1. January 21, 2011 at 8:39 am
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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