the self had use  for the self

Language: Filipino
Poet: Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles
Translator: Kristine Ong Muslim


the self had use for the self

A poem by  Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim

Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles’ 12 books in Filipino include Parang (High Chair, 2008), Alingaw (High Chair, 2010), Alinsunurang Awit (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2010), Antares (Aklat Kurimaw, 2010), Mal (High Chair, 2011), Mga Tala at Panaginip (High Chair, 2012), Guwang (High Chair, 2013), Pilas ng Papel: Mga Sanaysay sa Tula (De La Salle University Publishing House, 2013), and Pesoa (Balangay Books, 2014). His volume of selected poems, Anima, will come out late this year from the Ateneo de Naga University Press. A recipient of multiple national awards and fellowships in the Philippines, Arguelles is co-editor of the journal hal., works as a book editor, and teaches literature and creative writing at the De La Salle University in Manila.

Kristine Ong Muslim’s books include  We Bury the Landscape (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012), the forthcoming short story collection Age of Blight (Unnamed Press, 2016), and poetry collections Lifeboat (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2016) and Black Arcadia (University of the Philippines Press, 2016). Her poems and short stories have been published in magazines such as Boston ReviewConfrontation MagazineFolioExistere, and New Welsh Review. She lives in southern Philippines and serves as poetry editor for LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, the literary journal published by Epigram Books in Singapore.


Dahil sa natuklasang hindi sa iyo
ang daigdig, gumuho

ang iyong daigdig. Ang iyong daigdig

na dahil hindi sa iyo
gumuho hindi dahil sa iyo

Hanggang tumindig ka sa ngayon
sa daigdig na sa wala nakatindig


Nais mong magpatuloy
pagkaraan ng lahat, pagkaraang lahat

ilahad. Ngayon

mahinahon ang mga tinig, wala na
ang nagsasalitang salitang minsan

mayroong sariling silbi. Mayroong silbi

ang sarili, nais mong masabi, sa sarili
sa huli, bilang pagtanda sa inaakalang buhay


Isusulat mo
ang sarili. Isusulat mo

sa bawat salitang pipiliin

upang maiharap ang sarili
sa bawat salitang tatalikuran

upang muli lamang mabigo
sa bawat pagtalikod


Sa araw na kailangan mo
nang magpaalam, hindi mo maiiwan

ang iyong silid. Sa huling sandali

ipapasya mong isilid ito sa iyong bulsa
Naroon ang iyong kama, mesita, ilaw

sa pagbabasa. Maglalakbay ka

mula roon nang hindi iniiwan
ang iyong silid. Sa muli’t muling pagpasok

dito, kailangan mong laging magpaalam

Bawat araw, hindi mo maiiwan
ang iyong silid. Sa iyong bulsa

bawat huling sandali, ito ang iyong isinisilid


Sa sandaling ito, muli mong isusumpang mabuhay
para sa sining


Because you discovered that
the world was not yours, your world

crashed. Your world

that just because was not yours
crashed but not because of you

Until you stand up now
to a world that stands on nothing


You want to continue
after everything had come to pass, after everything

was made known. Now

the voices are calm, no longer
one utters a word that once

had its use. The self had use

for the self, you wished to say
in the end to commemorate what passes for life


You will write
yourself. You will write

on every word you will choose

in order to submit yourself
to every word you will renounce

in order to once again fail
in every renunciation


On the day you need
to say goodbye, you cannot walk away from

your room. At the last moment

you will decide to slip it inside your pocket
There’s your bed, small table, lamp

for reading. You will travel

from thereon without leaving
your room. In your frequent reentry

into it, you need to always ask for permission

Each day, you cannot walk away from
your room. Inside your pocket

every last moment, you slip it in


At this moment, you curse once again having lived
for art