Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-seven
Spring 2015
21 Ways of Looking at Chicken Heart
Nancy Lynée Woo

After Wallace Stevens

Small, reddish glistening
lumps on a stick.
Smooth like the death
must have been.

Tender, char-roasted heart
smoked delicately over
imported Japanese coals.

He looks at me, looking at the heart.
Waiting for the moment ripe enough
to eat.

The heart on the tongue.
The tongue carries the heart.

Beating, ringing against her
tiny chamber;
finally, released.

One searing knife on the table;
one pair of gloves; one clean
motion; a bucket for the blood.

Feathers. Beak. Black bead eyes.
Scaly talons. Liver. Gizzards.
Breast. Thigh. Heart.
Nothing wasted.

A scavenging wolf tears apart the neck,
nuzzles down into the brittle ribs.
Snarls at his brother.
This is mine.

The animal could never fly.
Such stupid creatures,
perfect for herding. But wind
reached through feather to center
and she felt the gust
hit her every day.

Cages slamming, wire, dirty hands
plucking from the nest.
Mothers squawking, restless.
Too plump and used.

Down the gullet,
one heart meets another.
If you were to cut me open,
you’d see them start to simmer
back into the broth of life.

The chef licks his lips, bites his
tongue, returns to this temple
every night with clockwork precision.

I was a vegetarian once.

At our table, premature egg yolk dish means
the mother died before laying.
C-section snack.
Like hardboiled but gooier and tiny.
With greens and sauce. Foreign.
The heart is still the best.

It doesn’t even need mustard.
Now I know why we slave
for the heart. Why poets sing of it.
Mi amor, el corazon.
There are cycles everywhere,
always trying to get us here.

And then, an emptied plate.

The flavor remains;
one beating in each one of us.
A different hunger.

59 hens met their maker
on a typical Wednesday afternoon,
talons on sawdust moving
down the line in ruffled commotion,
the henkeeper’s eyes lazily following
the hands of his watch.

The earth still orbits around
an ancient star.

This one, though, she must have been


About Nancy Lynée Woo

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