A Question of Blood and Asphalt

There’s a question that’s been bothering me for a few years now. I’ve asked friends about it, and so far I’ve only gotten “Why?” and “Don’t throw this question out there on the internet, people will think you’re crazy.”

A few years ago I saw a number of accidents on the highway on the way home. They were spaced about a week or so apart. Each time it was the car in front of me or just a few meters ahead that was involved. So I saw but barely heard the impact.

Years later I still know exactly where one particular accident took place, where the person was struck by a speeding car, where his body lay for a few minutes under the midday sun, the way his lips were moving but there was no sound.

My question goes sideways from this terrible series of accidents.

What chemical reaction takes place when blood spreads on asphalt and the noon day sun strikes at its harshest?

I’ve had this poem in draft mode for many years and I can never finish it.


To Be Haunted
version 2

The car in front
two seconds ahead of mine
struck him head on.

Two years since the day
the sun scorched his blood
onto the asphalt,
a trapped ghost.

It is still there, close to the island
on the highway, a dark shape
stretched on a darker surface.
Invisible to other drivers.

Now think of a calculated kill,
the intentional randomness
of bombs raining.

How many ghosts will there be
in cramped school halls, in homes
of huddled children? Fear and grief
systematically torched.

Beyond the chemistry of blood
reacting with asphalt
in the midday sun,
there is something I’d like explained.


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

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