recent readings

Eth-Noh-Tec Salon You’re On: Guest presenter at three of the monthly salons. SF 2009-2011

Rhymes & Rhythms:     Quarterly poetry and music event at I-Hotel Manilatown Center, SF 2010-2011

A Place of Her Own: Literary reading with other writers in conjunction with the exhibit. SF 2011



Phone: 415-586-7922

Mobile: 415-609-7922


Nancy's poetry readings are always riveting. Her way with words, whether gentle or fierce, wraps around rhythms while her cadences capture my listening.  

         – Nancy Wang, Eth-Noh-Tec

Nancy is a natural born artist. Like her art, her dramatic monologues bloom open into vivid human landscapes which pull you right into the heart of her characters’ lives and their deepest humanity. 

        – Canyon Sam, author of the award-winning memoir about Tibetan women, Sky Train


Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women (AAWAA 2007)

Blue Arc West (Tebot Bach 2006)

The Other Side of the Postcard (Citylights Foundation, 2005)

So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets (Tebot Bach 2003)

Asian Americans: The Movement and The Moment (UCLA 2001)

Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America (Pantheon Books 1990)

Photo: Reading at Rebecca’s Books, 2010. Taken by Bob Hsiang



I am water; let me shape to your cup.

Drink deep of me; let me fill your pores with delight.

When your body is quenched, I shall rise as a cloud

And hold your wants and fears in my moist embrace.

When the weight of your suffering bears down,

I shall rain tears over you. I will wash your pain

And become the great ocean

Whose vastness can carry it all.

© Nancy Hom  8-2-09

Rules of Conduct

After your lover departs, be sure to wash your hands.

Leave no trace of sweat on skin.

Scrub her kisses from your cheeks.

Freshen the air; smooth the sheets.

Remove all stray pubic hair.

In war as in love, clean up after yourself.

Close the eyes of gutted soldiers.

Button their jackets; cross their arms.

Sift the sand for bits of bone

and unexploded bombs.

In life as in war, it is best to tidy the mess.

Bring flowers to your wife, chocolates to refugees,

artificial limbs to amputees.

In all situations, wipe surfaces well.

And wash your hands before you leave the area.

© Nancy Hom 1-14-02




The Wall

What keeps us building walls, each one taller and wider than the next, until they join other segments and stretch across grasslands, mountains, streams and rivers all the way along the border between U.S. and Mexico? 800 miles of steel and chain-link, girded by beams and riveted by hate. What deep fear has gripped our reason; who decides who to keep out, who to keep in? Who is safe from whom? What lack keeps us hoarding more than we need and protecting it with sharp wire? We divide, and further divide into yours/mine, us/them, belong/not belong until even the sky and sea are not exempt from our poaching.

We never talk about the wall in cocktail conversations, only that we must have it, as if hiding behind it will keep the monsters away, as our bedcovers did in childhood when the unspeakable thing emerged after dark. This is the fear we keep close to us, disguised as homeland security; as long as we know that somewhere along California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas there is a wall, we feel safe and don’t have to think much about it. That the wall must saw through homes where children play happily together, a giggling tangle of brown and white limbs on worn sunlit sofas; that it must slash through earth where bones of ancestors lay sleeping for generations; that it must rip through sanctuaries where the jaguars, ocelots and longhorn antelopes roam – those thoughts are left for others to ponder.

Once in a while we even imagine that there is no wall; this is the time we give Anita a bonus for teaching Spanish to our children, or treat Raul to a beer after he builds our den. In the fancy Italian restaurant downtown we toast to the chef with our vintage cabernet, only to espy a Mexican stirring the marinara sauce on our way to the bathroom.

Other times we may visit the wall as if it were a patriotic monument; we admire the little American flags flapping in the wind, in awe of the immensity of what we have done, we the mighty. On the other side there are also visitors that we cannot see, visitors to a shrine of crosses marking the 5,000+ killed by the desert heat while crossing. Here and there we may glimpse a hand or two outstretched between the slats to the other side, groping for the touch of a loved one and a taste of sweetness slipped between the slits.

I can’t help but wonder that if we did not keep our borders so distinct and immobile, both the personal ones and the outer walls, then the heavy steel weight might lift from our hearts and free us from the shackles of perceived threat of one another. In a world without borders, we’d wash our clothes side by side, savor tamales and hearty gossip, learn to square dance under the desert moon. But wall-builders do not see that from outer space there are no borderlines. That when the wall of our prejudices crumbles away we are left with only our nakedness, just shivering people needing each other to keep warm.

I believe it is not our nature to build barriers that keep us apart. Our true nature is to reach out to others and to make our hearts as wide as possible. Yet we have forgotten that we are connected with those around us, and that to erect a wall keeps not only them out, but a part of us from ourselves as well. Like the Berlin Wall, this too shall some day fall. And when we finally rub our feet with glee in the groove left behind, we find that the sands are the same on both sides of the fence and the only fear we fear is the fear in our minds.

© Nancy Hom  1-28-11