Flying on a Heap

In a few hours I will sit for nearly a day among total strangers with one thing in common – we shall convince ourselves that a heap of metal, rubber, glass, plastic and other materials held together by technology (or magic, faith, man’s arrogance? what’s a better term?) will successfully (if not safely) take us across vast masses of land and water.

I wrote this poem many years ago while flying from Manila to Cape Town – today I fly the other direction, and maybe some day a poem from this current trip will be born. I’ve attempted a translation to accompany this post. The original Filipino appears in my book Baha-bahagdang Karupukan.

Kalawakang Binabagtas

lumilipad akong pabalik sa panahon
na anim na oras paatras
palayo sa sinapupunan

palalim nang palalim sa gabi
itong eroplano,
patay na ang mga ilaw sa napakahabang pasilyo

nakabalabal kami ng maninipis na kumot
humihinga ng hanging hiram lamang
sa kalawakang binabagtas

nakatiklop ang aking mga binti
nais bumulusok pauwi
sa payapang lawang pinagmulan

samantala, pinupuno ng mga sinag
ng bagong umaga ang inyong silid
at malapit ka nang magising, inay

paggising ninyo ang aking pagtulog
at higit pa sa anim na oras
ang muling mamamagitan sa ating daigdig


translation attempt 9abril2012 (I fly in a few hours)

The Space We Cross

I am flying back in time
six hours behind
away from where I was born*

deeper into the night
this plane plunges,
lights turned down in the long passage

we are wrapped in thin blankets
breathing air borrowed
from the space we cross

like a fetus with legs folded,
I wish to fall back home
into the calmness of a lake

meanwhile, rays of light
begin to fill your room
just before you wake up, mother

as you rise it will be time for me to seek
slumber, and more than mere six hours
rend me from your world


*the Filipino word “sinapupunan” means womb, but in translation it sounds inappropriate

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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