Kristine Ong Muslim

Three Poems

Mr. Flip as a Sack of Flour

The chef says knead, and Mr. Flip hears need. He feels important, like a man who gets to the finish line ahead of the others. He gurgles. He feels relaxed while he stretches, the dough under the rolling pin. Gravity is now a pinprick on each point of his body. He thinks: so this is how we realize our limits, how far we can reach out. He is twisted along the circumference, stuffed and sugared and slathered with butter. He wants more. He hears the opening of the oven door. The heat waves fan at him until he is browned on the outside, pale and soft on the inside.

Mr. Flip as a Hearing Disorder

Mr. Flip thought that it was all right to act as if he was listening, as if he understood what the Master was saying. Each time, the words combined to form a longer paragraph than the one before it, until the story simply would not end. It did not matter that the Master kept calling him names that everybody used for their enemies. It already seemed fair that he could see, that the whole world was an epidemic of lights and that anomalies in vision snaked in whenever he looked long enough at something. The combined smell of raspberry tea and lemon-scented disinfectant was distracting enough. Under the electric lights, Mr. Flip tried to have a good time as he waited for the neon silver-green sky to open, to create a hole that would absorb all the noise.

Still on Schedule

The odds of rearranging the seasons are close to none. That cloak of all that is sky and flapping sheets over the clotheslines is still influenced by the movement of air. Traffic builds up on the spot of land where nothing will ever grow. Eight o'clock. The sun. The skin is the first line of defense; sunscreen, second. Holding onto his mother's hand, a child imagines derailing the subway train with a coin; today is his first day in school. Nine o'clock. A partner looks out of the glass lining his renovated office, sees straight edges jutting–the symphony of glass and steel. Here, the search for home is a fundamental myth, the desert has never intervened with rain, and the mechanisms of memory are taken for granted. The urban project has projections of close to ten years.

Kristine Ong Muslim's publication credits and recent acceptances include more than seven hundred poems and stories in over three hundred publications worldwide, such as Bellevue Literary Review, Fifth Wednesday, Narrative Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Southword Journal, Turnrow, and Weber Journal. She has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.