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

 

1

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.

 

2

Pain is a garden plot that thrives on drought.

Remember the thaw and how it unravels all:

 

3

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.

 

4

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?

 

5

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?)

remained close.

 

6

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.

 

7

She saw

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.

 

 

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Poems Copyright © 2008 Kristine Ong Muslim. All rights reserved.