MusingWith: Poem & Responses

There’s a collection of birds

Simon Leung



There’s a collection of birds, of flowers, of places, some proper names, but also “environment.”

I try to set up an environment: return flight, ambition, an apple green Sung vase, poem about antelope; then these interact and give themselves to other situations.

I cannot hear names of places without thinking what right have I to the land that is described. What right have I to be there? What right of passage? A why am I here kind of question. I come from Hong Kong, 1960s. We never felt we could go anywhere and landscape was elsewhere. Soon, everyone would go everywhere, but then, I held a British passport without the right of abode in Britain.

A cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces, an airline ticket to romantic places, and still my heart has wings…these foolish things remind me of you.

“These Foolish Things” was written to describe Anna May Wong (her effects on Holt Marvell). Like space above a lake, she was hallucinated. In her nightclub act she sang that she came from Hong Kong but had become a Hollywood Star. AMW was born in Los Angeles and had traveled to China only once (as a Hollywood star). I live in Los Angeles, so theoretically landscape is available to me.



She made films in Hollywood, in Germany, in England. Before talkies she acquired a mid-Atlantic accent.

Kant: Hospitality means the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he arrives in the land of another. One may refuse to receive him when this can be done without causing his destruction; but, so long as he peacefully occupies his place, one may not treat him with hostility. It is not the right to be a permanent visitor that one may demand. A special beneficent agreement would be needed in order to give an outsider a right to become a fellow inhabitant for a certain length of time. It is only a right of temporary sojourn, a right to associate, which all men have. They have it by virtue of their common possession of the surface of the earth, where, as a globe, they cannot infinitely disperse and hence must finally tolerate the presence of each other. Originally, no one had more right than another to a particular part of the earth.

Cosmopolitan citizenship

The Navajos tell their story. They had come from the co-mingling of mud and insects and birds and animals and clouds between sacred mountains, birthed from the ground into this place. Is it painful to be confronted with the geneticist’s proposition that Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA link their bodies to bodies of people from far away—other continents, even if, as Phil Bluehouse says, they look like cousins?



When the plane landed in Almaty, faces all around me told what I thought was a magical story of genetic adulteration, as if Europe and Asia found the sweetest mixture in Central Asian nomads. But then they found in Kazakhstan one man who has in his DNA a direct link to a 40,000 year-old ancestor who is thought to be the progenitor of Europeans, Native Americans, and some Indians. What he has is called the Central Asian Marker. Race writes over land forward and backward, and the same Kazak faces show a morphological origin before a splitting off rather than the end point of a blending of. The story is called “The Journey of Man.”



Q: What is the subject / again / subject / again?

“She,” that’s one answer.

Or…the 2010 report on the sequenced Neanderthal genome demonstrating a 1% to 4% range of Neanderthal genetic contribution to non-African modern humans.

“From their Homo sapiens samples in Eurasia (French, Han Chinese & Papuan) the authors state that it is likely that interbreeding occurred in the Levant before Homo sapiens migrated into Europe.”




mesa / grass / bush / sticks / husks / cobbles / bush / leaves / yucca / juniper / skeletons / finches / jays / basalt / wind / flurries / April /


Ants: freeway traffic and tall buildings.

Nice community.