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Three Poems

by Nancy Lynée Woo

Blues and Greens

We speak of the most intimate barbs in low growls. Chicken wire poking out of my throat, blue today but going back to green, there is a tiny laughing Buddha jumping on my chest. Sometimes, he is only an angler fish and I have swum too deep. There are no women allowed here. Back to the top. Where the grass seeds sprout, the raccoon with the smoky eye make-up digs. She is looking for the eggs we threw out from the Easter basket. Sustenance from the rising. Vanished. When I am quiet, all I am is gratitude, a resonant electric blue, though the rest patters against the windshield as I try to take the curves with grace. My mother’s love is a refrigerator, nearly empty. A sick green. But she read to me. She planted my bellyhead with the words enough to hate her, then forgive her. A hate so full of solitude all I could do was will it blue, and caress it there, and let all the little growls scare back at the fish. The light dangles but I am clear mist over only my own grave. One hand reaching for the shovel. Always only one—I will not be that hungry. I will wait, and I will float back up. What left to do but when Friday comes, buy a ukulele and strum nonsense on out into the sea until I have anchored in my grip, until I am that balloon drifting out from hand, and I am hand, and feet, and grass. From there, with one rubber band all the colors of my spine holding things together, I can almost taste the order of the sky—just enough to devour it all and begin again.

The Crash

He looks down the barrel of the gun like he’s looking down the ass of a stripper like he’s looking down the throat of his daughter like he’s looking down the bottom of a shot glass like he’s looking down the blouse of his wife flirting with another man like he’s looking down the engine of his favorite 1967 cobalt blue Mustang like he’s looking down the paperwork of the IRS sweeping him clean like he’s looking down at the cement from a twelve story building like he’s looking down into the cavernous hole of his mother’s womb. “Daddy.” He spins from the chair, hits the ground, sees tiny claws outlined in the dust of the blow. “Daddy,” the bird caws. His empire burning to ash in the beak. Bankers clamor out of the building, ties on fire, chased by janitors who scream they saw it coming and where do we go now. Powder on his skin. Sleeping in the car from now on. Asphalt suits, clinking glasses, alarm in the building, evacuate, evacuate. The tiny bird shines iridescent as it dances and squawks, “You could have seen it coming.” The man lies there on the motel carpet, a roach twirling pirouettes. From afar, sirens blare and a woman outside shouts, “Ain’t you nevercomin’ back here, boy!” I’m never coming back, the pistol whispers. Barrel-heavy lids struggle to close. Cat food stinks on the street and he remembers a coloring book his mother gave him. I can’t feed you, he says to the bird. The water drains from his eyes as the drip of the faucet winks. I’ll be eating salmon from cans, he thinks, and falls into sleep. In a dream, he stares down the barrel of a shotgun like an African hunter staring down the jaws of a crocodile, one red eye twitching. The bones crackle as they split. “Daddy.” His claw clenches the neck of that bird. Please shut up, he says as she grows into a woman from ruins.

The Empty Chair Technique

How to address the you? Sitting in that empty chair. You sit there harassed by my faint recollections of your porcelain comb. Jasmine wafts through a black hair bun, wrapped in a tiny parlor smoking with street exhaust. Chopsticks on the table. I am exhausted every time I return to this room. My magnifying glass shrinks, no new clues. Stiff denial greets baby every time she comes knocking. I find you turning in the grave as you spritz just a hint of Old World scent in my direction. Please, I was not the beginning of your descent. It was your crazy old love for blood. How you slammed me. The door. How one little you became so many chairs. The genealogy of abandonment spreads out underneath my eyelids like sewers. In one pothole, your spidery fingers take the shape of my beloved. When I beg for something to hold onto, you are already gone. In another, your face is her face, the witch I let in too deep. I wander the tunnels of roots and say to my chair things I have not felt for centuries. I need to understand why your ghost and its wild voices visit me when I have struck jade in the sky. I have struck jade in the sky! I have you to thank for the shadowy, warbling visions even when I can’t make out the shapes on the wall. Smoke. Mirrors. Tea leaves. Whenever I see you, I see forward and back. I see that I am as untethered as you but sturdier. I can hear you if I listen. Listen: I am not who you think I am today. I’ve become your ancestor, the one with all the answers this time. We’re traveling toward different planes and in the tiniest move, your porcelain comb fits behind my ear like a seashell, gurgling of waves beyond your tomb. The current fills the chairs, sweeps them out to sea. There are so many empty chairs and I’m talking to them all through you. When I lie back down, I float out to touch you, grab your wisp, ask you how I came to be. Pleading, give me stories so I can understand. Instead, your black cloak follows you underground, red rage pools behind my eyes, cooling into flood. If I want stories, I make them up or go to sleep. I make it all up.

Nancy Lynée Woo discovered she was a writer around the same time she dressed up as a dust bunny in her 4th-grade play called “It’s the Pits.” It’s unclear what the connection is there. But she’s fortunate to have found a lovely poetry home in Long Beach, CA. Her work has been published in a few journals online, and she has recently created her first chapbook. You can follow her on Twitter @fancifulnance.

Lead image: “What am I supposed to do…” (via Flickr user Jim Stark)