Rewarding Greed in Men: Poetry by Kristine Ong Muslim

Water Snake, Arcadia


The red canyons of Water Snake

teem with iron-laden sand and heat.

In the bone yard, the skulls yellowing,

and little by little, the jaws disgorging

their pestilence until the wind forces

the gaping mouths of skulls to take back

down what they have given up by waiting.

A crater lake once existed in that hollow

south of the canyons. Look closely and find

the bones of long-extinct catfish, the biggest

in the world. The fishermen of Water Snake

once hailed the floundering ways of their prey,

how the flailing catfish could sever a man in half

and how men could just as easily ensnare and gut

their catch, their wives cheering them by the lakeside.

Back then, the greediest of the bunch were revered.


Kristine Ong Muslim has authored several books, including We Bury the Landscape (Texas: Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012), as well as the forthcoming short story collection Age of Blight (Los Angeles: Unnamed Press, 2016) and three poetry collections. Her short stories and poems have been published in the likes of Boston Review, Confrontation Magazine, New Welsh Review, and Southword.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

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