Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of the full-length poetry
collection, A Roomful of Machines (Searle Publishing, 2010) and
the e-chapbook, Our Mr. Flip (Scars Publications, August 2010).
Her poems and stories have appeared in over four hundred
publications worldwide including Boston Review, Contrary
, Hobart, Narrative Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine and
Southword. She has been nominated five times for the Pushcart
Prize and four times for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's
Rhysling Award.

P is for Phyllis

The sky twitches whenever I look up;
all the blue chinks are crumpled
in certain places. The streets and sidewalks
slurp up the pedestrians then spit them back
quickly enough so nobody notices the treachery.
Eight floors up, I have seen weirder things
from the window near my hospital bed.
The nurses smile and nod when I tell them
what I have seen. Pain is measured in years, I think.
Most of the time, I try to run, but it always catches up
on me. Now, I just lie down, do as the doctor says.

The Gospel of Tango

The dance instructor hollers at me to "please, please not bounce, Ms. Muslim. There are things in life that people cannot do, and I understand that," she says, "but your moves are pretty amazing for someone who is not born to be a frog." With that in mind, I dip and trip, scrunch and twitter, and I feel my spine clenching, my legs wobbling to unspool--the first victim of the dance. Somebody, must be that wiseass majoring in European languages, applauds in the middle of it all.

Blink Once, Said the Little Town

Startled at first, the spiders understand how to navigate by a sticky thread in five hours. We learn much, much later. With each step we take, the town becomes smaller and smaller than before until one day, one of us can cross the whole town in one stride. At the bus stop, the tourists grin with discolored teeth. From afar, they look disheveled. Filthy. They work hard in blending in, pretending to be one of us.

The night he died

The moon still marked
its path on the sky
with an unflinching gleam,
a secret, deceitful
crescent smile.

The neighbors slept,
dreaming of mowing grass
or something close to that.

In a motel that charged per hour,
his office boss of eleven years spent time
with the finance department's secretary.

His goldfish in the fishbowl
curled and uncurled its tail,
mastered the sights of its world
on top of the side table.

In the kitchen, the refrigerator
hummed. Inside was a box
of orange juice already past
its expiration date.

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