Rounding Up The Dogs of the Children Who Died of Sadness

dog ghost

Monsters came one day, dressed
in stiff uniforms.  They were fed
largely on red meat and so had grown
like giants compared to the islanders.

They scarred the land as they drove,
engines growling like hungry beasts,
churning sand and dust into the terrified
eyes of the children.  Those little

Brown arms grew powerless at the sight
of fists clutching the collars of their pets.
Never before had they seen such dark
nightmares.  The monsters had come

To gather all the dogs of the island.
They were taken amid screams and cries,
hearts cracking like husked coconuts
flung against a jagged rock.


Almost 1,000 pets were rounded up and gassed, using the exhaust fumes from American military vehicles. “They put the dogs in a furnace where the people worked,” says Lizette Tallatte, now in her 60s, “ … and when their dogs were taken away in front of them, our children screamed and cried.”

“Diego Garcia: Paradise Cleansed” by John Pilger, October 4, 2004

About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. His latest book is BLOODRED DRAGONFLIES, published by Deep South in South Africa. Check out the official blog page for Bloodred Dragonflies. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. San Anselmo Publications released HOW TO MAKE A SALAGUBANG HELICOPTER & OTHER POEMS in 2019 followed by CROCODILES IN BELFAST & OTHER POEMS in 2020 - both books can be purchased through their Facebook page. View all posts by matangmanok

8 responses to “Rounding Up The Dogs of the Children Who Died of Sadness

  • Secretlee

    Oh jim… and how my heart breaks again. If not for your writing, I would miss alot of this. I avoid our carefully censored news, sick of being lied to. But this… oh.. god… I could be one of those children right now. It hurts… so so much. It hurts.

    OWEEE OWWEEE OWEE ouch.. *sob* .. ouch. *wiping tears.. AGAIN.*

    SNifff. And the sleeve goes across the face… sniffle, trickle, sob.

    ~time passes~

    I would like to say thank you to those children. They have taken a burden that would have otherwise been left for someone lesser. That they were faced with this, at such a tender age, somehow I think the universe delivers only what it knows people can handle. So, thank you kids, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for taking this pain, lest it could have been me.


    *shit jim, i only came on here to put a photo on my avatar thingy… now look what you’ve done?*

  • Secretlee

    PS – how do you write this stuff without breaking?

  • matangmanok


    Maybe I’m immune to this sort of thing? Like a snake who can’t be struck down by its own venom — actually I don’t know if that is true.

  • ecko


    Just stopping by to say hi, haven’t heard from you in a while at that other place. Again, thanks for sharing this excellent piece and for the awareness.


  • matangmanok

    Hey there, John Ecko!

    I am so glad to see you back here. At least someone to rant to. Hahahahaha. No, I have been avoiding that other place since I was told by some tall clown that I have no right to put up a link to this place whenever I post a poem. “Ban on self-promotion” apparently. I needed to get out of there for a while – or forever. It didn’t help that not that long ago there was a member who reacted viciously to one of my comments (the comment was reported to the gods and was stricken down with a curse). Anyway, I should stop the rant. Feel better now. Like that girl in “The Sixth Sense” who puked in Cole’s “tent.” Hmmm, I bet you don’t remember that scene.

  • Jie-Shi

    Hi there Jim,

    Your melancholic poem sort of shocked me bro, since today I was at a place nearby where I am staying and there are about 12 or 14 cats there. The thing is that the body corporate trustees want the SPCA to come and remove them, where they will be killed. I don’t know why people can be so inhumane, since surely it is more humane to sterilize the animals. The same thing is happening in Iraq, with dog running around in the streets after the war. Having brought up with pets, I know how wonderful they can be, but also how sad it is when they die. I can never understand people’s obsession to kill an animal especially if there are other means of controlling there breeding patterns.

    Take care,


    • matangmanok


      In this instance it is apparently vital to put up a military base for the use of a foreign power for rendition, bombing missions to the middle east and other parts of the world, and other matters needed to keep an eye on the spread of evil — ah, that word, evil, far too difficult for the common person to comprehend. So the dogs had to go. A warning shot, so to speak, of things to come.

      Thanks again for visiting this cave. Hope you come back soon.


  • Chagos Islanders Still in Limbo « Matangmanok

    […] I first posted the following poem in May 2009. I hope you don’t mind a second read. Rounding Up The Dogs of the Children Who Died of Sadness […]

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