Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jim Pascual Agustin- Three Poems

Goat, Rope, Rock

There is a goat in front of a house surrounded by sand.
Its left foot is tied to a rope
attached to a chunk of rock.
The desert town of Jaisalmer grows dark.
It is possible there are other goats
like this one, tied similarly to a rock.
But this is the goat that will not surrender
gnawing at the rope even as darkness reigns.
It will not give up while rope
taunts the limits of teeth. Even when I
am no longer by the window to witness
its freedom.

first published in my book ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Manila 2011)

BigDog Takes a Walk

Wonder cast in the sea of dreams
caught your fragments. Pieces
with their own limitations were forged:
rubber, metal, wire, glass, plastic.
Their possibilities stretched to bring you
close to something almost alive.

You were born of careful hands,
patient in taking note of countless failures.
Amazement filled your creators
as the dynamics of behaviour began
to thrash inside your casing: pulse of laser light,
hydraulics, sensors, mechanical organs.

It was not the dark heart
of destruction that pushed your limbs
toward those first twitches, and later
into the complex physics
of walking. It was wonder.

But where to? What burden
are you bound to carry?
Whose hands will take command
of the perfect balance of limbs
now able to navigate riverbeds, dunes,
concrete, rubble, sleet?

You have no choice in matters.
The greater powers have predicted
your history. Geopolitics, interventions,
calculated murder. The language of madness
where my fear of you resides.

NOTE: BigDog is a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog’s legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. In separate trials, BigDog runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, and carries a 340 lb load.The program is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).
Boston Dynamics
first published in ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (UST Publishing House, Manila 2011)

Village Potter’s Wife
Jaipur, India

in a corner with no shade

she smashes, pounds
old, broken
pieces of pottery
close to dust

fifty years she never felt
the sensuous dance
of earth and water
on stone wheel

her hands know
cut of shards, lick of flame,
burden of sons,
cling of daughters

first published in my book ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (UST Publishing House, Manila 2011) and in New Coin Poetry (Rhodes University, South Africa, 2011)

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry in Filipino and English. He grew up in the Philippines and now lives in Cape Town with his Canadian-born wife and their twin daughters. His fifth and sixth poetry books are Kalmot ng Pusa sa Tagiliran and Sound Before Water, simultaneously published in 2013 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila. The same publisher recently accepted a new collection, A Thousand Eyes. His blog is