What does it do, that thing
on the sidewalk? Somebody
has stomped on it, but it will not
call for help. The receding flood
water is taking pieces of it down
the gutter. A child rudely prods it
with a stick. It will not twitch. It will
not budge. Does it know that it has
to feel pain to be alive? It gets run
over by a car whose driver is looking
for a parking spot. Mid-afternoon and
there goes the wheel of a grocery cart
ferrying a spitting kid. And that thing
on the sidewalk, that thing with a death
smile, that thing simply will not die again.
Kristine Ong Muslim
More than six hundred poems and stories by Kristine Ong Muslim have been published or are forthcoming in over three
hundred publications worldwide. Her poetry can be found in numerous online journals like 42opus, Apocryphal Text, Bare
Root Review, Barnwood Magazine, Blackmail Press, Blue Fifth Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Cordite, Dog Versus Sandwich,
Dogmatika, Ducts, JuiceBox, Mannequin Envy, Mastodon Dentist, Nthposition, Offcourse, Radiant Turnstile, Silenced Press, Slow
Trains, Tattoo Highway, The Driftwood Review, The Fifteen Project, The Oklahoma Review, Thieves Jargon, and Zygote In My
This is how I get the story right:
I forget it the moment it is captured
in the mind, do not let it hold its shape.
In my library, a famous dirty old man
tells about a bluebird that hunkers inside
all of us. It is beautiful. It must not fly out.
My favorite coffee cup turns coffee murk
into imagined sunsets; the color leaks
as it touches my mouth. I would have
liked for that moment to last. So I make
more of the same blend. But all the
other sunsets look different afterwards.