Jim Pascual Agustin

Do Millipedes Bleed?

The bathroom sink reflects
a clinical glare
from the white light bulb.

Close to my toothbrush,
a dark shape
thicker than a string,
curved upward at one end.

My hand quickly tries
to reach for something,
a comb, a slipper,
anything to flick it away,
perhaps crush it.

Then up close I see
it is hunched over
a drop of water,
drinking. Tiny feelers
waving back and forth
in a gentle rhythm,

minute legs, thin
as the hair between
my knuckles,

from Wings of Smoke, The Onslaught Press, 2017

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 bySalimbayan (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 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/