Throb and The Second Stranger
Kristine Ong Muslim
Only because the thin men,
the ones who pounded
the bone rhythm on the wall,
could not sing, they became
content of defacing our sanity.
They tapped their
phantom knuckles on walls,
doors, and wooden floors.
At first, they picked on the
paranoid ones, the aged,
the dreamers, the ones easily
driven to kill themselves.
No one would believe these people.
The strange noises that they heard
would follow them to their deathbeds
where the silence of death was absolute,
But then the unseen thin men learned
how to slowly torment the stronger ones,
the people who would fight
to keep their sanities intact.
At night, the thin men rapped
and scratched the ancient bone
rhythm against the unyielding
ones’ car doors and bookcases.
They glided underneath their beds
to wake them up. Always, the
pulsing sound would begin after
the people had reassured themselves
that the mysterious beating sound
was only in their imagination.
The Second Stranger
In street corners, he brandishes
his Almanac for us to see.
Out of the pages, pictures
of our lives—the past and the future—
scar us forever. Unwanted memory
holds us back, and the second stranger
knows this. Tailored to assail,
the photographs appear
differently to each person.
He even hints
at the secret last pages,
the ones which depict our deaths.
Every day, the crowd around him grows.
Nothing much has happened afterwards.
We continue to gather around him;
the rest of the world follow—
the airports, the terminals, the roads
are filled by men, women, children,
their family pets pawing at closed car doors.
And looking closely at the second stranger
while he shows us another page,
I notice the beginnings of a smile
curling from his lips.
Kristine Ong Muslim's stories and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many places. These include fine genre publications like Black Petals, Dark Recesses Press, Down in the Cellar, The Fifth Di..., From the Asylum, Horror Carousel, Illumen, Jupiter, Kaleidotrope, Lighthouse, OG's Speculative Fiction, The Shantytown Anomaly, Spinning Whorl, Tales of the Talisman, and Trail of Indiscretion, and literary journals like Adbusters, Chronogram, Cordite, The Pedestal Magazine, and turnrow. Her poem, "The Thin Men," which first appeared in Not One of Us, received an honorable mention in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 2005. "A Spacewalker Dreams" from The Martian Wave was nominated for the James Award in genre poetry. She also co-wrote (with Aurelio Rico Lopez III) Oddities (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2006), an illustrated chapbook collection of genre poems for children. Kristine Ong Muslim, 26, lives in the Philippines. Her publication history: http://www.freewebs.com/blackroom8.
Photo "Old Man Storm" by Bella Dante.
Poems Copyright © 2007 Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.
Photo Copyright © 2007 Bella Dante. All rights reserved.