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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CARRIONS OF SHACKLED DESIRE AND HUNGER


CARRIONS OF SHACKLED DESIRE AND HUNGER
 
1. Do Not Disturb
 
You are noisy/ even when you are silent, / the world is dripping with/ Do Not Disturb signs in/ languages we don’t even/ recognize as languages. --- From “On Eggshells” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 01-03-12

It is easy enough to hear silence
at the edge of the woods. It is loud.
 
 
Your pounding heart is not there
beating sense into your dulled mind.
They just jump out like shadows
on walls, turn their backs, ignore us.
 
 
On its own, one whines with longings
struggling to spill out, uncorked,
from unguarded gaols of feelings
that have lain fallow, rotten carrion
 
 
of desire tardily unbound, love gone
still, a truant finally nailed dead
on broken beds creaking under cold
sheets that will never find heat again.
 
 
The other, a slug of a mind, stays mute,
until it is egged on to scream out a pain
in its pure form: a memory of loss,
a raw betrayal of troth. Cut, cut clean.
 
 
Out of the woods, on his way home,
it was easy to read on the locked cottage
door an absent sign: Do not disturb.
Silence has its sharp language. It is clear.
 
 
2.  Hunger
What remains after/ the marks are erased? / …You could be the sound of a shutter, the blank/ accordion surface of blinds turned down for the night. ---Luisa A. Igloria, “Erasure”, Via Negativa, 03-13-12
 
 
 
Look harder into the darkened corridor
after the shutters have gone down,
ignore the clipped clatter of slats slapped
shut with peremptory indifference;
 
 
blurred shadows should start jumping
through them as lingering sunrays
slither like paper-thin serpents flapping
languidly with the stale air. I am there.
 
 
How else will my lost carrion incarnate
except through the quiver of hungry loins
trembling achingly through cold nights
when your frenzied fight with the pillows
 
 
and caressing flannel become urgent noise
echoing unsatedly needy behind shutters.
 
--- ALBERT B. CASUGA
Revised, July 22, 2014 Mississauga
 

 

 
 
 
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

FIVE POEMS ON HOLDING BACK (I STILL HAVE TIME)



FIVE POEMS ON HOLDING BACK
( I STILL HAVE TIME)


1.  The Pasture


Olden days as a pasture---an expanse
of growth and green alive to laughter
and song---that’s where I am going.

Where windswept bramble rustles
with grass, you will find me there.
I can’t be rushed to skip off beyond.

I have time to paint a collage of faces
I have known in the deep mosaic
of a past now graffitied on these walls.

2. Hoarded Memories


Isn’t this why we hoard our memories?

We carry them like playing marbles
in pockets over our hearts, an easy draw

when the game is called, a quick toss
into holes dug on dirt we crawl on like
the kids we were, rolling them to dusk.

Olden days are there to sieve through
to find markers along obscured paths
once brightly lit now lost or darkened.


3.  Will Keep in my Knapsack


A smile after a first kiss would help me
remember there are caresses there
as indelible, as urgent, as when first

given or surrendered by the one lover
whose courage saw me through times
when absconding was an easy way out.

A rollicking hug from the boisterous
son, a lonely issue, my only boy, recalls
a hesitant embrace for my dying father

who whispered from his rocking chair
my schoolboy snivelling was poor form,
he needed a man’s goodbye. Goodbye.


4.  I Do Not Want To Go


The litter of olden days strewn like dry
leaves along my walk home holds me
back, awake again: I do not want to go.


5. Show me the Way to Go Home
 

What is it about gloom and an overcast sky
that calls back from buried remembrances
shadows of a discarded past folded like linen
tacked neatly into closets, camphorated, and
forgotten in dark attics until the next funeral?
Small consolation that these leaves transform
into a bravura of rainbow colours before fall
claims them from their trembling branches.
 

Blown off with the winds to places unknown,
would anyone recall how they sheltered birds,
worms, held nests in the fork of twigs, even
wayward kites? A fanfare of cricket songs,
however cacophonic, forms part of a memory
when even the bark of a whimpering mongrel
or the monotone of a midnight owl remind
us of walks in the dark trying to get home on a
drunken tune whistled and yelled to the moon:


“I got a little drink, it went to my head. Show
me the way to go home!” I did not get there.
I won’t go yet, I still have time. Time is still.



---ALBERT B. CASUGA

Revised, July 21, 2014, Mississauga



 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A SILENT SCREAM: A STILL POINT


 

A SILENT SCREAM: A STILL POINT
 

There is stillness /only when we drop to the ground, /pulling our legs in beneath us/like fingers clasping a palm /in order to become a fist. ---From “Light Year” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 08-24-11

 

It is the one place we learn too soon perhaps
to find that still point, early enough to know
stillness is easily within our grasp: grovelling.
 

East of Eden, could there have been any other
way to accept an edict of eviction? Hind legs
are the postulant’s crutch to stand tall again.
 

Was not the burning bush accepted in terror,
in quite the same suppliant surrender to rules
enslaved people must learn to struggle by?
 

Even a troth to die for a sovereign is still taken
on knees propped by legs beneath, like fingers
clasping a palm. Where lies the stillness there?
 

Did not the jubilant brave receive his infant
hunter on warm buckskin in the same position
as the homeless tramp accepting a tossed coin?
 

In wars waged for God and Country, a bereaved
wife, mother, father, or son are the orphaned
who -- kneeling -- must accept a hero’s carrion.
 

Where is the still point there? Does the lover
still offer his promise and fealty to his beloved
in that humbled, prayerful, drop to the ground?


One scours this place overcome by great wrath
descending from the skies, the oceans, the air,
fire below and fire above, fathers killing sons.


A buried miner scrounging through the bowels
of the earth for fossil to light cities and lift
warplanes off the ground, does he not crouch?


Is there any other manner, a decent mien,
to receive these wages of rebellion, a paradise
lost, not with legs curled beneath like fingers


clasping a palm to clench a fist against the sky?
Where is the stillness there? In a stilled anger,
deep in his heart where feelings are the hardest?

  

---ALBERT B. CASUGA



 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

IF THERE WERE STILL TIME, BUT IT IS LATE


 
 
IF THERE WERE STILL TIME, BUT IT IS LATE

(For all the Old Friends)


There will be time, there will be time/ To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;/…And time yet for a hundred indecisions…---T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

"Clearly, the parable speaks of the patience of God. Both saints and sinners populate the land, but no one gets judged until the very end. Everyone has the time and opportunity to, as it were, convert from weed to wheat (even as, in the case of the good seeds, the possibility to change from wheat to weed likewise remains). Who was it who said that, because of His decision to wait for man to come back to Him, God created time? Then time should have as icon, not the clock or hourglass, but God waiting outside the door." ANYONE THERE?---Simeon Dumdum, Jr., “Anyone There?” FB Notes July 19, 2014


1. It’s not too Late

 

It is not too late, there is still time.
Time enough to start all over again?
Time enough to peel off rotten edges,
Look new as cankered limbs, hearts
Of darkness lit by flickering starlight.
There will be time, and time to save
Even this hapless piece of wriggling
Worm, this man, this shadow of life
Creeping into sunlit shelters where
Crawling is de rigueur for the tenant
Of this place, this earth, this hole
From whose depths we late emerge
From shall so soon expire to claim
An orbit among the rent remains
Of body and soul and his illusions
Of immortality, his undying atoms.

2. It Might be Late


In what world will we find happiness
Again? In what place, a fresh start?
Like that moldy sweet potato left
In a crisper, there must still be a way
To save it for an evening’s repast
When this hunger gnaws no limits
In this suspected late night diner
And one orders something sweet,
Something filling while we wait
For brighter mornings in this desert.

But if that morning will not come.
What is there to save but saving?
It will be late then. Who will require
Bright days, cloudless skies, or joy?
 

3. All Will Be Late


When Time equals Being,
That would be the End.

Nothing would get past
The edges of ephemera.

What would the end be,
When Being equals Time?

There will not be a bang
Anywhere, nor a whimper.

There can only be trumpets
Of the winged proclaiming

An arrival in a regained
Haven where Death is dead;

At which time, no time
Marks being on time. Ever.

All will be late for the birth
Of God on Judgment Day.


---ALBERT B. CASUGA
07-20-14 Mississauga

 




Friday, July 18, 2014

A NIGHTMARE: COUNTERPOINTS

Amir Schiby added a new photo.
 
A NIGHTMARE: COUNTERPOINTS
(For the Palestine Boys Slain on the Beach in Gaza)

1.
They were running through tar-black sand, racing...

for the ball before the waves could pick it up: Aiee
then a billowing red cloud burned my serpent
kite, its long tail falling by the river bank. Aiee!

What wild wind would wander this way? Why?
It was like a huge face. A very angry face? Why?
Its scowl and its roaring laughter made them all
scamper, hide under overturned fishing boats. Aiee

It kept on hitting us, the rain of broken pebbles,
and then there was this big blue bird cackling. Aiee
its quivering beak raised to the darkened sky,
sounding like Grandmother yelling: Go home, boys!

We would pipe down and hear her stoutly protest:
Quiet, quiet! Your grandfather must sleep. Aiee

2.
Would I get my kite back again? I am afraid,
Grandfather, but I want to go back to that dream,
rebuild my broken kite, bathe in that river,
look for the blue bird that scolded the sky. Aiee

I want to play ball with the lads on the beach.
They have not come out of the bunker boats, have they?
There’s just splayed legs and split oars and blood flowing
Out of their covers, severed hands, cut off feet, Aiee

---ALBERT B. CASUGA
July 18, 2014
 


 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

HURRICANE POEMS FOR A LARK



HURRICANE POEMS FOR A LARK
 

1. Who has seen the Wind?


Always the uninvited guest, the wind
pushes through the porch into the house,
and scatters leaves collected in its wake,
like a shower of crackling seeds freed
from pods that do not come from here.
 

Strange, how it barrels through rooms
disturbing spiders spinning webs busily
before the storm ebbs, safety nets strung
among sepia-tinted pictures on the wall.
 

What did it miss along the way? Winds
as interlopers are blind levelers–the rich
run for supplies as quickly as the poor do.
 

In New York, as in Manila, the howler
brought in the flood, and left laughing.


2. End Times? It is here. Stop It. It is late.


On its tail is another wild wind to mop
Up, where the living would rather be dead
Than build sandcastles on islands gobbled
By the hungry sea that must claim dominion
Over the Ring of Fire, and Mother Earth
Can only yell: Damn it, why puncture the sky,
To heat her armpits, with radioactive leftovers
Of Hiroshima, and the galloping horsemen
Of an unbridled Fukushima paying back
The land of Enola Gay and the hangar of a dark
Dirigible, a Negro Saviour, whose Eastern name
Will not stop the death and dying of civilisation
In Atlantis and now the rigour mortis of Mu?


3. Beware the Deluge Reprised


A Deluge comes. Only this time, we have no Arks
Nor Ararats to salvage all who hope to find
Another Blue Planet in an extended Universe.
No one has applied to be a Noah. They are all,
All retired and tired of saving a ruthless specie,
The homo viator whose journey brings nothing
But a discovery that he has lost the Love he had
For all the meek who shall inherit the Earth.

 

4.  Yolanda Left Uproariously Howling


Her fury might as well have risen from the sea
Wreck every hearth and heart on her wake:
It should not matter, these are worms wriggling
To overstay in rotten mounds of a leftover paradise
Abandoned by leeches of fuel, stones, fire powder,
Who ripped the sides of mountains for nickel
And gold to build the ships that burned villages
From the sky and left like the wind laughing
After the slaughter of the hallooing innocents
Yelping hosannas to a rain of napalm, welcoming
Death and dying as deliriously as they did some
Distant rain brought by growls of sudden thunder.
 

—ALBERT B. CASUGA

 

 
 

Monday, July 14, 2014

HERE IS WHERE THERE IS


 
HERE IS WHERE THERE IS

 

(For the Wee Ones)

 

1. Little Shadows at Sundown

There is where here is: we will find there here.
Do you hear the murmur of the seawaves
laving this shore? It is the whispered caress
of a mother come upon her little ones’ romp
among the lengthened sundown shadows.

Where the flushed horizon meets the sea,
a father’s face gleams ruddy with laughter’s heat
still on his crinkled brow. Here is where there is.



2. His Joie d’vivre

O, that this cacophony of sounds
Becomes the noise of a lifetime
This old heart (from a distance)
Could hearken to, leap up to,
Velvety notes of a joie de vivre
That this place was built for,
Made of, remembered by:

Is this not, after all, the paradise
He thought was lost in time past
Visited now upon his dotage
When he hankers for joy,
A little life left while there is time?

 

3. Ebbtide Laughter

 
The little shadows taunt the sea
To grab their limbs. Gleeful,
When touched at last, they yelp

Their now surprised screams
Drowned by whimper of ebbtide,

waves that have turned to laughter.


---ALBERT B. CASUGA

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

THE OTHER SITTER



 

THE OTHER SITTER 


Dark days will always be with us,

but they, too, will pass, like wind
blowing through gloomy rooms:

look at her fleetingly smile at you
when you hold her to your chest,
the dove-like cooing telling you

how warm it is to curl into arms
that will always be there to hold
and enfold however cruel days

become, however bereft of grace
struggling to live becomes. Look
at her gaze at you long enough

to manage another smile before
she looks away and closes her eyes
to sleep feeling you will be there

when she opens them again still
singing her a lullaby, her smile
never once leaving her tender face.

It is when you are moved to get
down on your knees and pray
that, if this were your final day,

you would still have her cuddled
in your arms smiling at what you
have begun to doubt is still there

holding us all in his steady palms.


---
Albert B. Casuga

Painting by Janet Weight Reed, England, "A Baby"




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GRACE IN ROSE GARDENS


 
 
GRACE IN ROSE GARDENS

 

(For all the old friends)

 
Why is growing old gracefully the measure
of what we look forward to when we write
each other these days? How old can we get?

Will our little rose gardens occupy our days
like we always did, lancing out thorns from
their trembling hands as they grew away?

Why can’t we have them snivelling around
instead of listening to our mumbled curses
as the thorny branches whip our wrinkles?

Where is the grace in pining at sundowns
for those shadowy remembrances when lads
were boys and lasses were screaming girls?

When will those album pictures, grown faint
now on brittle pages, jump out of the plastic
binders racing to kiss our hands at angelus?

Where, what sunlit places, would I see them
frolicking free from fears, writing love notes
on some clean sand before tides take them?

Who will bring that cold glass of lemon tea
while we rock our tired backs on chairs
perched on porches made for these sunsets?

What grace, what balm is left, growing old
and feeling gray, shall be our final measure
for how gracefully we have received the end

of days, of answers to whispered questions
of why, when, where, and how have hearts
turned cold in old houses no longer home.


---ALBERT B. CASUGA