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Doors do not take up a lot of space
unless they are forced open.
Upstairs, the stars are grimy, splendid,
and free. I dismantle doors in my room
so that the stars will remain that way.

In the kitchen, everything reeks and looks
closer to hell than I think. This is where
the nothingness thrives: inside.
All flesh and the living are kept in the fridge.
No other skin, except mine, rustles.

Here, I burned the basement man
who grew out of my childhood
and followed me home. I remember
his cigarette burns and vermin bite marks
on the grayish skin of his arms.
He defaced little teddy while I was sleeping.
I created a mousetrap out of a black hole
to keep even our souls apart.

The elves shine my shoes with black dust.
The pixies I’ve trapped now learn to stray
outside the circle of salt I set on the floor.
But in my house there are no monsters,
only doors that open out so I can see myself.


More than six hundred poems and stories by Kristine Ong Muslim have been published or are forthcoming in over two hundred journals and magazines worldwide. Her work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Foliate Oak, Free Verse, GlassFire Magazine, GUD Magazine, Iota, Mastodon Dentist, Noneuclidean Café, Otoliths, The Pedestal Magazine, Poetry Midwest, PoetryRepairShop, Right Hand Pointing, Thieves Jargon, Turnrow, and Void Magazine.

© 2008, Kristine Ong Muslim

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