We tend to relate to things via sympathy: it’s why fiction and drama work so well—we put ourselves in place of the character. Muslim does this with things. Reminiscent of Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things, these poems give life to objects. We can feel our own weight in the chair, and know what it’s like to wear paint. These poems are simple but with silver edges and wild eyes. Just when we think we’re reading about how to build a house or decorate a room, it becomes clear that we’re not so different from the places that shelter us. These poems remind us that maybe things aren’t the most important part of life, but that empty rooms echo loneliness louder than most can handle. These poems prove that our lives become collections of things—we leave our mark on them and become them. Things hold our blood and our pain and our filth. They hold our salads and our feet and our needs. There is no day without things. And then, Muslim makes us things, too: we are dolls. We’re rusted knives and chipped cups and whirling electric fans. There is nothing that someone doesn’t want: there is no thing that doesn’t mean everything to a person.
Originally reviewed for The Tipton Poetry Journal