“The writer behind closed doors knows nothing about life…”
– Cesar Vallejo
There are too many words and pictures
for my eyes to drown in, staring at this mirror
that only goes black when it loses power
or when I can manage to push the OFF button.
Do not bother me with the world
outside the window, outside the door.
It pales in what I can choose to see.
One day you’ll agree, there’ll be no need
to step outside, or even to wear anything,
not even skin. This black mirror
will feed and nurse all longings.
It may be cold to the touch now,
but even that, someone will fix eventually,
some writer of code who has pipes connected,
as astronauts do, for when s/he needs
to drink, eat, pee or poo.
Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates in Filipino and English. He grew up in Manila, the Philippines, during the reign of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, and moved to South Africa in 1994.
His poetry has appeared in Rhino, World Literature Today and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. His poem, “To be an Orc,” won the NoiseMedium Grand Prize, and his own translation of his poem from the Filipino, “Danica Mae,” won the Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation and Multilingual Texts from Lunch Ticket and Antioch University. In South Africa, he has won the DALRO Award for Poetry second prize as well as the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award 3rd Prize in 2014 and 2015.
At the age of 23, his ﬁrst book, Beneath an Angry Star (Anvil Publishing, Manila 1992), was published, followed by Salimbayan (Publikasyong Sipat, Manila 1994). Subsequent poetry collections were released by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House: in 2011, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan (shortlisted for the National Book Award) and Alien to Any Skin; in 2013, Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran and Sound Before Water; and, in 2015, A Thousand Eyes. In 2016, the same publisher released his ﬁrst short story collection in Filipino, Sanga sa Basang Lupa.
Agustin’s latest collection of poetry, Wings of Smoke, was recently released by The Onslaught Press (Oxford 2017). He is currently working on a new collection that contains work criticizing the bloody war on drugs by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and commenting on socio-political events in his new home, South Africa.
Drafts, literary news and random thoughts of his are posted on www.matangmanok.wordpress.com.
Link to ordering Wings of Smoke: http://onslaughtpress.com/product/wings-of-smoke.