Three Poems by Joseph de Luna Saguid (tr. by Kristine Ong Muslim)

Translated from the Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim


They drift farther and farther away—
your children. They can no longer
hear your beckoning voice.
Playing cards are endlessly laid out
during the wake. You fix
your eyes on the relentless
clawing of water.


It is only fitting to take off your clothes.

Because everything begins
in this form:

Exposed to temptation.

Dip your feet in the water.

Remember your lack of grasp
for the meaning of hesitation.

Proceed into the depths, into the impenetrability
of destiny.

In the end, when numbness
claims all your senses,

they will clothe you
from head to toe

with the same lack of hesitation.

Because everything ends
in this form:

Exposed to temptation.


The heavens darkened
not because
the sun had holed up at last
in the womb
of an unmarried woman, but

because of the crowding
crows that hurriedly
scattered all over the place
to spread the news.

Joseph de Luna Saguid’s first book of poetry, Kantilaho, was a finalist at the 10th Madrigal-Gonzales First Best Book Award. His second book of poetry, Loob, was published in 2013. He currently works as a copy director for a local television network.

Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of nine books of fiction and poetry, most recently The Drone Outside (Eibonvale Press, 2017). Her translation work appears in Poetry London, Shenandoah, and Words Without Borders. Widely anthologized, Muslim’s short stories were published in Conjunctions, Dazed Digital, and World Literature Today.