Four Poems

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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
assassinated.

* * *

November 23: No One Can Bury Shadows

remembering those slain in Maguindanao

1
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.

2
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.

3
What kind of joy
was set free
by those who pulled the trigger?

Whose voice unleashed
the dogs?

4
Dear President,
I presume you feel
loss such as this.

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

5
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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