This right knee grew an eyelid-
like flap when I was pushed from behind 
as a kid. I was so skinny, my sister said 
I should be careful during a typhoon — 
it could whip me off the ground 
as its eye passed above in a swirl of galvanized 
iron sheets and coconut branches.

I skidded face first, palms scraping pebbles 
and stones. Everyone saw and laughed 
before I could get up, my limbs unable 
to contain the trembling. I stayed indoors for days, 
ignoring the calls to join their games.

Each bandage my mother replaced meant seeing 
that flap open, exposing blood and the dull
white shadow of my kneecap. But no eye 
or horse jumped out as my sister foretold 
with her wicked laugh. 

The wound now completely shut, I remember
no one rushed to pull me up from the ground 
that day. I ran home on my own, shaking 
as if termites had hollowed my bones. 

Decades later, I find the exact
spot without looking.  
The skin awakes to the touch
but stays mute in the dark.


They’re Wrong About You

I’d been diagnosed by a dozen specialists
whose middle names bear the letter K
somewhere. There must be a joke in it
I don’t fully grasp, so I just chuckle 

silently to myself, pretending I do.
Each one of them had the face
straight out of a zombie apocalypse
movie. Independently, they asked me 

to be the subject of a study. Electrodes 
would be attached all over my head 
as I sleep in the comfort of their sterile
laboratory. I know better. There’s no way 

I’d find you if I shut my eyes again. So I stay 
awake as long as I can, a stone the size of my heart 
in one hand, ready to strike the other should I begin 
to nod off, or when faces emerge from the walls.


About the Author:

Jim Pascual Agustin was born in the Philippines and has lived in Cape Town, South Africa since 1994. He writes and translates in Filipino and English.  His work has appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Rhino, World Literature Today and New Coin, among others. He has published poetry collections in Filipino and English, and a short story collection in Filipino. His most recent books are published by San Anselmo Publications in Manila: How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter & other poems and Crocodiles in Belfast & other poems. Forthcoming from Minimal Press is the South African edition of Sound Before Water. His randomly updated blog is www.matangmanok.wordpress.com

Feature image by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash