Three poems by Jim Pasqual Augustin

The Man Who Wished He was Lego

His hands would be yellow
and forever curved
into a semi-square “C.”
Designed only for quick
and easy snapping

of pieces meant
to fit. His shoes
would be the same colour
as his pants with no zips
or buttons, no pockets

for slipping in notes
that could be shredded
in the wash. He would need
not worry about the shape
of his head, or haircuts

and thoughts for that matter.
And best of all, his chest
would be stiff and hollow,
far too small
for a heart.

 

The Basket and the Road
(after a photograph by Mimo Khair of an unknown farmer)

Perhaps you will wash the dust trapped
in the folds of your skin with precious water
later. Not before you have unloaded what you hope
to sell: bright yellow squash in a basket
full to the brim they could tumble out

should you miss an uphill step. Straps
of flattened rope cut into your shoulders
like tire trucks on mud. But no one
can see them under your shirt.
Strands of what looks like a horse’s tail

hang between you and the woven
basket falling the length of your torso.
What I see from your eyes matters
little to you. Another pebble
shaken free between your toes

on a misty Yunnan morning.
The road ahead of you and behind
changes only with the seasons.
What you bear I can only imagine,
comfortable as I am

that it isn’t mine even
for a moment. I can stare
as long as I want and you will still
be there, right foot completing
a step while left heel beginning to lift.

 

How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter

They prefer mango trees, but any tree
will have at least one. A quick shake
and they fall like pebbles, these beetles.
Some still in the act of mating, they glisten
with droplets of monsoon rain.

One of the bigger boys told me
their prickly legs are harmless,
like thin petals of a flower
opening and closing. “Here,”
he said, handing me one

in the hollow of his fist.
On the lines of my palm,
this salagubang couldn’t push
itself upright with the stiff
covers of its wings.

He picked up another beetle,
held it close to my face
and placed index and middle
finger on the grooves of its body.
With the other hand he snapped

off the two kicking back legs.
On their stumps he tied
a thread and on it, with the span
of a hand, knotted a stone.
The salagubang flew

when he let it go,
but only in circles with the stone
dead center. We laughed.
I could feel the wind
from frantic wings.

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