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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 junkie.

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.

Wait, 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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