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Kristine Ong Muslim


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The day you ensnare and kill the last
of your prey, you will change
into something you fear the most.

You will become a creature that walks
on all fours, a creature that grazes
what's left of the tainted grasslands.

You will take on the mutilated form
of roadkill—gristle off the bone, raw
around the edges, pooling and gleaming

a darker red where pain resides.
Every path, every trail you choose from hereon
shall carry your scent for your hounds to follow.

Listen to them bay. Listen to the faint snapping
sound of their arching spines as they spring forth
from where they have been crouching all this time.

And they will hide and pounce from behind your
every rock, every menacing hedge, every mountain.
Then they will chase you—chase you across

the red canyons of Water Snake, chase you
across the crumbling terrain of Little Falls,
chase you across the underworld of Arcadia.

And soon, they will wear you out, run you down,
pin you to the ground where the weak ones scamper.


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Out of the foam, the tentacled god,
the rip tide conveys Lethe.

The tunnel receives. The tunnel
swallows the flimsy boat
bound for the isle of the dead.

Stalactites of invisible nets,
of ornamental filaments.

The water carries floating toys
fashioned out of sin: the scaffold,
the garrote, the line that drags

the hanging men, the faceless
pilgrims who abandon their kind.

Fisherman, ferryman,
all the agents of reconstruction
paddle hard for want of a shore.


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The Red Queen of Hysteria
watches over girls like you.
She directs your pirouette,
enlists you in an enclave
that condones the drumming up
of stilted rhythms. Sing your
first song, and she will tell you
where you are going, how best
you can be folded into a stable
shape on days when your jar
of windmills is stirred to the lid,
turning blades about to cut through,
and you are swollen with screams.

Great Rift

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Hound of the southern hemisphere—
discern the shape of your god
pulled taut across the black cloud

toward Sagittarius. Behind
the archer—the center
around which the galaxy spins.

The Incans know the dark nebulae
from seasonal rains. The Aborigines
know their emu in the sky.

Behold this Great Rift,
this dark avenue  between the stars.

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