Poetry: Leng Neoi

“Leng Neoi” translates in English to “pretty girl” yet the poem’s strength is resisting a simple presentation of beauty. Governed by a succession of monostiches, the speaker navigates its readers through fragments of childhood memories in which they attempt again and again to force themselves into the mold of beauty. Each line of poetry a wound singing.


Leng3 Neoi5-2


whose ear piercings get infected

who sits under the kitchen island, eating peanut butter from the jar

who beheads Ken dolls

who first hears her voice through a pink, heart-shaped tape recorder

who wears ngin ngin’s dresses

who cuts tags off jeans so no one will see her size in gym class

who eats raw ramen while watching Dora the Explorer

who paints her stuffed animals’ nails green

who throws away the lunch her mother packs for her every day

who the hairdresser says has a pretty face

who orders eyelid tape

whose music teacher tells her: just pretend to sing at the class concert

who did and continues to

who wants to stay—a leng neoi







3. flat mid
5-2. high flat; low falling



Stephanie Choi

Stephanie Choi’s poems appear or are forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Electric Literature, Cosmonauts Avenue, PANK, and elsewhere. She was a Breadloaf Environmental Writers Conference Fellowship recipient in 2021 and is an MFA candidate at the University of Utah.

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