The Future of Pumpkins by Nancy Lynée Woo

“Don’t promise a pumpkin 
and deliver a squash.” 
—Matthew Feinstein


We nod. We sleep. We wake,
wondering about the sun—

every night, do we summon it?
I wake up supercharged, heaving 

barbells up a wall of mouths. 
I believe in poetry above all else.

That doesn’t make me anything
but a poor fish in a brilliant pond 

of amniotic slug magic. Clouds 
are evidence of wind. That’s obvious;

writing this poem is above my pay grade! 
You can’t force a miracle, but you can 

get a lot done in 8 minutes. If accountants 
think like filing cabinets, I’m reborn 

in the bath each day, sick with yes.
I just want my dog to fulfill his dogness

Bureaucracy needs boxes, and hard news
arrives in cold language. Fossil fuels 

are not income. Cucumber mint sells 
really well. So does vanilla gardenia. 


There are so many things to know.
Open clusters in Cassiopeia. Barnacles.

Savage Garden. Don’t freak out, 
just Google it. Practice subjective release 

of dopamine. Desperate times call 
for drive-thrus. Who hasn’t been haunted 

by McDonald’s? Seratonin is safety. 
Is discretion the price of peace? 

What is the evolutionary purpose
of dreams? I ask a lot of questions 

waiting for pastries from the bakery. 
Everything is important! Velvet worms.

Little sprawling horrors. Fireworks
in the distance. Shmegegge. 


From sandals to sorcery, I’m a lot
of honey, pot and fish sauce. 

Is anyone untouchable? Teeth flashing, 
I do like to be a smiling creature.

This poem is a squash.
All pumpkins are squash, Matt.

We’re all sentenced to the will
of sentences. Scoffing, a power move.

I prefer a baptism of fire. 
There’s nothing so dramatic 

as the shadow of bamboo shifting.
I didn’t ask to be responsible 

for this plant! What are reasons for? 
Some compass. The organ. 

How I wish I could play. Grieving 
in the dawn, rising for the day, 

I slather coconut oil all over the place.
Shame lives in another zip code.


It’s the sweet stink of self-arrival,
garbage vomiting up from where

we’ve stuffed it. Toilet overflowing.
Radioactive waste in Nevada.

Burning rivers of plastic. We’ve really
fucked shit up. I’m not overreacting. 

Most people just need to be sensitized.
Unlearn the static. I need to take a day off 

from myself to change the settings 
every week. Earth’s problems 

are not getting any smaller. The frog
does not enjoy boiling. Who is the frog?

Am I? Are you? Doomed crabs pull
their brethren down. A dance of stars

is about to begin at Amboy Crater.
The next time I look up, all sky pinks 

have retreated. Is it my imagination 
or is that a coyote, wildebeest or wild dog 

harking? No one escapes alive. 
Children in the distance, groaning.


Give me stars or give me smog, 
with about three hours of driving 

in between. Expansion is the only way 
I know how to live. But we need 

to put a stop to these unholy machines
of greed. A pumpkin grows

in a woman’s belly. A billionaire
flies the coop, helicopter gliding 

over wildfires. The rest of us are running 
out of room, air, water, chocolate, time

to fight the assembly line. 
Even in the lo-fi flow state, 

I’m not afraid to say it: 
Desperate, lonely, snot-ridden nights. 

You can’t feel the weight
but the pressure of it. Neurogenesis.

Two degrees Celsius. Five.
A pain so sharp you think you must die.

Nancy Lynée Woo spends her free time hitching a ride to the other side of maybe. She is an MFA candidate at Antioch University and the recipient of fellowships from PEN America, Arts Council for Long Beach and Idyllwild Writers Week. Her third chapbook, Good Darkness, was named a Semi-Finalist in the Sunken Garden chapbook contest with Tupelo Press. As the creator of Surprise the Line poetry workshops, she believes in the power of the arts to bring people together. Find her cavorting around Long Beach, California, or online at

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.