• Four Poems


    It is Not True that Only His Own Mother can Love a Nasty Child

    He had clawed his way
    through a Danish custard
    like someone trapped
    under rubble.
    It was easily forgiven.

    Not many children
    of six can keep greed
    on a leash. He was bound
    to be revered, or at least
    seen as someone with a gift.

    One who can
    mesmerize an audience
    into seeing the world
    through his eyes
    and clenched fists.

    It was foretold in tea leaves,
    or the way a twister avoided
    his crib, or the sudden scent
    of crushed spices when no one
    was in the kitchen. Something

    completely random
    and logical only in the lost
    dimension of a singular mind.
    A tale that will find its use
    at the junction of need

    and opportunity.
    A leader of men
    will rise where someone
    more fitting would be

    * * *

    November 23: No One Can Bury Shadows

    remembering those slain in Maguindanao

    The door is a gaping mouth,
    the afternoon’s final gasp
    before it goes dark.

    Footsteps that left this morning
    will never again
    come knocking. News
    of violence drags the encroaching
    weight of darkness.

    Is it a miracle, a blessing, or a ghastly
    burden to escape
    the piercing of bullets?

    How heavy the echoes
    of silence in pursuit of the last
    drop of lead?

    Pretending to be dead
    in order to live.

    What kind of joy
    was set free
    by those who pulled the trigger?

    Whose voice unleashed
    the dogs?

    Dear President,
    I presume you feel
    loss such as this.

    Your clan bears the stain
    of those who usher in darkness.

    Tomorrow, as we turn
    to the day’s paper,
    new names will darken
    the pages, our fingers.

    * * *

    It was Never a Landslide, but People are Now Dead and Dying

    The crescent moon will not be blamed
    for the insanity of some. The seas
    cannot be held back by measured borders
    for its nature is to surge against itself
    and whatever it encounters. Men

    will choose, and some women, too,
    the path closest to what they believe
    will slay their fears, even as history
    has shown they are nothing but their own
    shadows. It is easy to forget that stepping back

    allows a better view where one is headed.
    Now it is too late to recount. A landslide
    victory is claimed by less than most. The dead
    and dying are now sprouting like poison
    mushrooms where children may find them.

    * * *

    Bridge Under Water

    Tell me where this water goes
    after dragging stones and broken limbs
    over my railings, my concrete
    and asphalt skin, said the bridge.

    Away from you and the weakness
    of your drowned body, your twisted
    steel, said the river, ushered
    by another force beyond

    its remembered limits. Together
    yet so much apart, they were silence
    and sound, stillness in between
    an unpredictable dance.

    * * *

    Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry in Filipino and English. He grew up in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship. He moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 1994. Some of his published works include, Beneath an Angry Star (Anvil Publishing, 1992); Baha-bahagdang Karupukan (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2011) and Alien to Any Skin (UST Publishing House 2011), amomg others. He blogs at www.matangmanok.wordpress.com


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