Poetry / September 2015 (Issue 29)

Knife Cut on Leather

by Jim Pascual Agustin

Seagulls glide between buildings and the mountain. Relentless wind and the sea on the other side. Around here the mountain cuts the sky. The clouds must move over and around it, smash itself into the finest shreds of rain, turn almost into frozen air, and then desperately try to recollect itself like seafoam on sand.

Roads are sloped. One can never walk totally upright. Cars must take sharper bends, closer to the edge of accidents. There is a twisted humor about, not far from laughing at the unresponding dead about to be robbed by family and friends.


There’s a set of crooked teethmarks on the back of my train seat where my right shoulder touches the leather. Although the train is packed, no one sits next to me.

I look down on the bag beside me. Its blackness has been mine for three months. Someone else’s before that. Someone now gone. Crawling towards it in a sharp S is a vicious knife cut on the leather seat that’s been stitched up. Caterpillars come to mind. Poisonous centipedes.


Someone two rows ahead has opened a packet of steak pie. The fine crackle of pastry and the stench of cheap meat reaches me. I feel like walking towards him to throw up and refill his packet.

The train screeches to my station before I could force a burp.


Feet have their own mind. They take over when your body goes restless. They take you through the motions of the day, to the very end, without your noticing the scenes around you change. The pavement becomes a pale river. And you drift seeing only gray.


My apartment door is ajar. Three locks forced open. Five if I were inside when it had happened. I know this sequence now. Like flushing the toilet. Being broken in repeatedly gives you strange skin.

Make as much noise as possible before you step in. Give them enough time to run away in case they’re still rummaging inside. Wait a few seconds. Listen. If nothing stirs, proceed to your unfriendly neighbors’ door. They haven’t had a break in for five years, ever since they installed an armed response alarm system. And they’re used to you. Try to be calm, at least for their sake. They could be having early supper. Ask if you could use their phone, yours has been ripped off the wall again.

The cops finally arrive, kicking doors with their guns cocked. Like it matters.

My things have gone – the ones the burglars thought were worth their trouble. Clothes, shoes, handed down jewellery, some music. Anything of value has gone out the door without me. For weeks I won’t really know which item has left me forever. Only when I think of wearing an old shirt or a funny hat, at a time when I had almost forgotten about the incident, will it strike me. Like someone behind a door in a dark room.

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