Nancy Lynée Woo

A Sentinel to the Nuances of Her


Live there long enough,
ya get to know a place.


Its backroads, stop signs,
feed lots and when t’ avoid


the rush at the hardware store.
Th’ whole picture – all of it,


he says, the slow straw
chew hankering up and down


as he gnaws on his words,
one finger panning out to


emphasize all of it. Hell,
I don’t think there’s one square


inch’a Dickens I ain’t explored!
He laughs, leaning against the wooden


fence. The stranger listens,
watching boots scuff along the road.


His sedan smells like the city and
too many designer perfumes.


Now, that don’t make me love ‘er
any less. In fact, some men


might want t’ up and leave,
when they tired of ‘er, to the next big


town. I see how some fellas get to
itchin.’ He looks deep in, pauses


to spit. Surveys the traveler. But me –
I love ‘er ‘ere, even more for


knowin’ ‘er. He hooks his thumbs
into his belt and looks off into the


long stretch of fogless night.
A light flashes on in a window.


Anyway, son, you just take the
210 over to Pritchfield and


just keep goin’ ‘til you hit, well,
wherever it is you tryin’ to go.


From across the field, his woman
calls. He steps around uneven


ground to meet her. Smiles at
the door as her fingers brush


the pocket of his jeans. His long-
brimmed hat bends forward


as he scoops her kiss up. He offers
his hand, then places the other


around the terrain of her back,
following her curves home.



Bearing the Juice of It All




She – or rather, the ancient She –
wanted to drink in the honey
like a funnel
from the gods but it was too sweet
for tasting without becoming a


She wanted to crack,
her body a coconut ripe to be split


But fast forward to the end,
she raced forward to the end
and it wasn’t pretty




It was beautiful.


Bearing the juice of it all:


A frightening ripeness
that squirms to be let out
and though She wanted to nurse
the idea


Get back in, we said.




And how does any She-beast react when caged?


She rages.


She rages with a furious reason


That boils all things down
to the quick




The quick.


How quickly a cell divides,
even while building
the foundations for a house
brick by brick
rather than haphazardly under flashlight.


She has a reason for being other than
igniting now.


But words cry wrongly




All She can do
is dwell in the courtyards of the blaze


And wait
for the thirst to dull.


Drink of the scorching of self,
then give way to more
than vapors.


the sign on the gate reads.


In her womb is only the word.




She wants to grow things,
move molehills into mountains
and bring kittens milk.


Not destroy.




Biologically addictive,
we have no antidote save
murder, religion and the third eye.


And still she cannot name it.



Unsatisfied on a bed of dead roses.


Tiny figurines of
fertility made of stone.


Pins and needles.


No more unpenned cancers
riding out into the wind.


The time will come.




Our bodies lay motionless–


I want a sturdy home
built on reason making love to faith
and we have enough of neither.


When we emerge,
She is quiet once more
and the waiting room stretches
longer than the labor of love.



Postcard to my future lover, who will be my lover for a while, and then disappear again into the wilderness


Already, we are returning to that house in the woods. You look over to make sure I am dry, but I’ve grown gills long ago. There are men standing above us when we arrive, thinking they are repairing the roof. You do the things you are supposed to do. Unlock the door (even though all the windows are already open). Grab my hand (like it is already yours). We step gingerly across the mat of seaweed and moss booming out of the floorboards. Oh my. The pufferfish is large today. I don’t ask you to kill it. Only tell me which part of its bloated body you admire most, which spikes you relate to. As you can see by now, the fish tank is everywhere. We look up and tap the boots of the workers as their rubber heels bump us. Don’t worry, we’ll make room for you, I say. I’ll explain the best I can why the faucets work so well. I’ll offer an old umbrella, in case you like that sort of thing. Cook soup. Thick flesh of salmon. The mosquitoes fight over the bones. Watch out, there are hooks everywhere. These men think they are repairing the roof. But light still gleams in from the surface, glinting off the blurry countertops. Whatever you do, don’t try and convince me there is no rust in these cabinets. Just seek out the best sort of oxidizer and I’ll get started on the humidity—and the tiger sharks—and the ghosts.

Nancy Lynée Woo is a 2015 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, and co-founder and editor of a socially conscious literary press called Lucid Moose Lit. Often caught cavorting around Long Beach, California, this poet can also be found at


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