Kristine Ong Muslim

Painted Kettles

They do not whistle anymore. Even
the faded rooster has swallowed its tail.

The handles, round and faceless as
henchmen, lie with their mouths open

to the gods at the losing end of parlor games
played during funerals. With my nails,

I scratch the surface of the sink until
the sound has driven away all the roaches.



Unmotivated by anything, the clock's
second hand continues to tick.
Tick tock, it says. And then we wake up.

The glass godhead glistens
before it topples down.

The smallest love in the world is shaped into
a milk carton. The flaps are missing.
It cannot be opened. The box becomes

a holding tank,
a captor's ribcage,
an unaired chamber

before it becomes the world.


One Night Stand

Leaves are cursed with the smallest of feet;
they can go anywhere and nowhere at once.

Crackle. The season spits its secret, the span
of its dream: bless my dead; they haven't

taught me anything. Here's the path which I can fold into
a sack, lug on my shoulders, unfold at the end of the trip—

the sound of the sack unraveling like static from the ruins
where a cathedral and a slaughterhouse once stood.