The god of shipwrecks overlooks his harbor and other poems
Kristine Ong Muslim
The god of shipwrecks overlooks his harbor
This terrible expanse of sea
is another plea for tomorrow.
My people—they always come
before me with their tackles
and boats, pumps and nets
and buoys. Always their names
are all images, their images all
but memory. I have kept them
afloat even before they learned
to paddle ashore. Now they come
to me with their cargo holds,
streamliners, and icebreakers,
with their hulls stretched black
and strong against my universe,
straining with the cadence
of a trespassing god, the blasphemy
of nineteen throttle valves past my
bottle of squalls and rogue waves.
I beat them back, make them worship me.
I approach undetected by the sonars,
the satellite scanners. I give them
the buttressed cold, the contrived storms.
They sink, gurgling before me, quiet down
as they touch the sea floor. My children, home.
A Third Lesson in Magic
Jenna collects fragments of everything:
a bit of ore from volcanic fault lines,
a couplet that defines grief, some
hair strands from a white horse,
and a rusty key which opens the door
to her childhood in her previous life.
She keeps them in a tiny satchel.
On winter nights, she polishes bones,
oils the heart pins she uses to prick
her many souls which have been waiting
to die. Her lower lip is the sea’s receding
waterline—pursed tight to keep the memories in.
In the hills, her grandchildren applaud.
Seven Stations of the Dead
Two successive winters has dried up
her tongue to the size of a single scream
which tells the living:
I am here. I am one of you. Let me in.
Pain is a garden plot that thrives on drought.
Remember the thaw and how it unravels all:
When the snow melted, a newspaperman
found her body behind the hedge.
He searched her purse, pocketed the fifty dollars
he had found inside her wallet, then called the police.
The minister talked about an allegorical journey.
Her casket was white. The satin lining was white.
The roses and the lilies were everywhere,
and they were very white.
Why does every thing have to be so clean
now that I can no longer touch them?
Her husband was staring
at a black-haired woman
she had never seen before.
Her four-year old son
was toying with his hair.
She wanted to let out her husk
from the casket, but the eyelids (hers?)
The pews were filled. Her voice
was now lost in the landscape.
The church people played something,
and she wanted to carry the song with her.
She watched her parents; she would have
traded her soul in exchange for their thirst.
how her body was lowered into the pit,
how the hands of four strangers
patted down the overturned earth
and placed a stone slab on top of it.
She did not read the inscription;
the words were similar to that
of the adjacent plot's epitaph.
More than 500 of Kristine Ong Muslim's poems and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in over 200 publications worldwide. Her work has appeared in Aoife's Kiss, Astropoetica, Coyote Wild, Down in the Cellar, The Fifth Di, Kaleidotrope, Not One of Us, OG's Speculative Fiction, Spinning Whorl, Starline, Sybil's Garage, and Tales of the Talisman. She is a two-time winner of Sam's Dot Publishing's James Award for genre poetry. This is her second appearance in Noneuclidean Café. Her publication credits can be found here.
Photo Courtesy of dreamstime.
Poems Copyright © 2008 Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.