It’s the profession they always get wrong:
the new Chinese gardener
some kind of engineer
a martial arts instructor
or restaurant owner?
No one assumes that I am
a professor of English language and literature.
Excuse me. I must get back to
mowing the lawn
installing a cat door
playing light-sabers with my son
and figuring out what the hell to cook for dinner.
at the heart of this campus signs say PDNWOTGIYAGA:
please do not walk on the grass if you are going across
but generations of students have worn their own trails
between destinations transecting the heart of this campus
desire paths in spite of attempts to replant grass
in the tender heart of this campus year after year
some people ask our Dean of Religious Life—scholar, mother, and wife
of Celeste: have you fixed that lesbian problem at the heart of this campus yet?
she says yes
While teaching a story by Marilyn Chin
I point out allusions to
Lu Ji’s essay on literature
Gary Snyder’s axe-handle poem
Issa’s mosquito haikus
Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a fly buzz”
and even supply the texts themselves.
Most students express appreciation
but one doesn’t want to know
prefers to bring her “own experience” to the story.
I’ve done my job
yet devote this poem to regret.
Floyd Cheung: "Born in Hong Kong and raised in Las Vegas, I am author of the chapbook Jazz at Manzanar (Finishing Line Press, 2014). My poems have appeared in qarrtsiluni, Rhino, and other journals. I teach in the Department of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts."