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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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE BETRAYAL



"Cock Crow", Digital Painting by Alfredo "Ding" Roces, 1997
 
 
THE BETRAYAL
 

He is the one that I shall kiss: Jesus of Nazareth. ---Judas Iscariot

 
Who will do it, that His will might be done?
Not he who would deny him before cockcrow,
Nor fearful fishermen scrambling in the dark.
There must be a clean way, hidden from them.

Pilate will not hang him; look, he washes hands
Much like the whore who has just pleased him,
That he might not decree a wicked judgment;
After all, did I not choose the fairest of them all?

The one he has fished out to warm his cold bed
On bivouacs, clean his dirty toes with perfume?
I had to earn the pieces of silver for myself.
Must hie away from this wasted hole of wastrels.

The thief on the other tree proclaimed him ally
That he might be spared by those rabid rabbis.
Fool, he must perish like jackals before him,
Used like rags to wipe these asses’ behinds.

From my filthy ruse then, shall his promise
To save man from perdition become flesh, blood
Of the havoc that shall destroy Satan’s dominion
Over the Paradise that he said he will regain.

I will join my Master then, hanging from this Tree.
 

---ALBERT B. CASUGA
04-17-14, Mississauga, Ontario


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE RANSOM



THE RANSOM

This shall not perish from the earth.
That dark tree would. It’s ransom?
Why, the crown of thorns, of course.
And this valley of fear, this gloom?

Unlike the old wounding diadem,  

They will be there again at sunrise
Unlike His Tree and prickly Crown.
They will not be there to save them.

His blood shall be on their heads.


Yet, they too, will know redemption.
They, too, will find their good cure:
The vile and the cruel shall be gone
When He comes to live next door.

But how often do we need redemption?

---Albert B. Casuga

04-15-14, Mississauga, Ontario



 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A LENTEN DIRGE: A DARK CROSS

Ecce Homo by Alfredo Roces, 1952
 

A LENTEN DIRGE: A DARK CROSS
 

This gloomy day ushers in (an embarrassment
of fronds and a donkey) an entry of a warrior
proclaiming Love, exited as a prisoner of war
into the Hill of Skulls, spread-eagled as a thief
on a ragged cross, crucified for a killing
fit only for the those mocking Caesar's due,
while invoking forgiveness for his assassins
who stripped him naked in front of his wife,
mother, and brothers, wailing in stark despair
to a darkened sky: Why have you forsaken me?


A dark cross casts its shadow over the valley,
but the blown rain breaks buds burnt like ashes...
on the forehead of the land---this is a desert
where fear and pain thrive---only these twins
will grow out of the oases of blood let out
by blades broken into each brother’s bones:
crosses have lost their balm here, where houses
are better off without porches anymore.
 


 —Albert B. Casuga
Revised 04-13-14 Mississauga



 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

AN UNCERTAIN WEATHER


 
 
AN UNCERTAIN WEATHER


It’s 36C outside, let’s take that deferred swim at the resort’s pool.” She said. “Yup,” he said. But the water was still cold from the cold spell in Nevada. He cursed.


 “We have known them all already,
known them all”. Thus, we measure lives,
abandoned hopes, laments, even sighs.

We have heard them all already,
the prayers that remain unanswered
behind bolted doors, darkened rooms.

This anguish over being here and not
here is all too familiar, but like innocent
children, we still look toward times

when we eagerly open holiday boxes
and find surprises no longer there,
but manage to smile anyway, bottle up

a “No thank you,” and move on to other
boxes, only to find feigned familiar
joy that those are still the wanted toys.

Like a dip in the pool on a beastly hot day,
that turns out like a party-pooper’s retreat
from a douse of frozen water in a cold pool.

Thus ends a holiday in a pretend paradise,
in this defiant desert of dystopian dreams:
Not with a sigh of bliss, but with a shiver.

Like uncertain weather marked in the sky,
we move on, unchartered, with the flux,
like all things plotted must begin then end.


—Albert B. Casuga
04-09-14, Las Vegas, at the Elara




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

THE LIGHTS OF FREEMONT



THE LIGHTS OF FREMONT


The play of lights on the dome is what gathers them to Fremont. Moving lights, in the dome of a pretend sky, not unlike the lights and tinkles of a slot machine.

 
It is what we have absently forgotten,
that we still abide in a strange gyroscope
of happenstance of giving and taking,
of coming and going, visions and revisions.

Or there simply is nothing to remember
from the darkness whence we came except
the pain of pushing or pulling out of a hole
into a yet more fearsome cave of struggle.

Is it dread then that is left in our satchels?
This journey has neither maps nor diviners
to guard against a free fall into an abyss
of irreducible gloom and cold desert silence.

Is this dome of blazing lights also a strum
for a quiet waking into a space of loneliness?
Or are these spaces our own echo chambers
where ripples of our calls are heard by others?

In the Beginning was Light, and we go back
again and again to understand the shape
of the spark that was left undefined in hearts
that recreate it in brief outbursts of that Light.


---Albert B. Casuga
04-08-14, Las Vegas, Nevada

  

ICONS NAILED ON THE WALL



ICONS NAILED ON THE WALL


(For Marilyn Monroe and James Dean)

 
Lights and shadows on the wall,
These are the icons of his youth.
How so like them to coyly disturb
A silent room, nailed on a wall.
She, reclined with a come-on grin,
He, pensive, slouched as the lost-boy
Rebel without a cause, stares east
At an Eden long lost to the giants
Who have taken over the garden
Where he lies buried with a Porsche,
His coffin of choice, a fleeting star
Gone quickly like a haunting mirage.
Could she have written that lyric
For him, this recondite Sappho,
Who was thought as a mere wiggle
Of a hip and a pucker of the lips,
Not a wicked siren in a white house
Where nothing was pure that side
Of the universe, that side of loneliness.
Bright images on a wall, still shadows.
 

---Albert B. Casuga
04-08-14



 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

THE STREET MIME


 
THE STREET MIME
 

They stand still, move a little when someone stares, then point to the tip can.

 
How grotesque should I get to get noticed as a busker?
An earlier mask was that of an Oscar statue, gold, de oro.
Yes, I was naked, except for a fig leaf on my privates.
Standing ramrod straight like the stroked movie award,
I can’t even get rowdy sistahs to scream libidinal cusses,
Nor the crotch-scratching, repositioning, baggy-pants
Brodahs to giggle at my golden balls and golden tool.


Have been doing this before Hollywood sent Britney
To bare her derriere at salivating dotards on front row.
But where is the silver change, the crumpled bills?
I regret leaving Oaxaca’s fishing village, but fishing
Is not a man’s job. It is a lazy act. Miming here is art.
Haven’t I sent my boys through school with this work?
I will stand still here and listen to the can’s clunking.


Maybe tomorrow, I will put on a wig, and put on a garb
Much like that of Jesucristo, a glowing heart on my chest
And mime a gentle smile on my lips, two fingers raised
In an act of blessing scuttling tourists in the Name
Of my Father, in my Name, and in the Holy Ghost’s.
Maybe someone will notice me then, as a stolen statue
From the Cathedral behind the 24-hour brothel in Reno.


---Albert B. Casuga
04-07-14, The Strip, Las Vegas, Nevada

 




MARIE AND THE GRANNIES ON SKYPE



 
 
MARIE AND THE GRANNIES ON SKYPE
 

“Call on the Skype. You will see her and she you. She won’t know you’re away.”


She toddled to her piggy bank,
Calling out to us on a Skype,
Promised by the techno-gods
As the ultimate hugger-video
Calls and “you will never miss
Each other, however far you
Travel, wherever on this planet
You go.” Hugging the porcine
Money keeper, she cried quietly:
“I got money for ticket, Yo-ya,*
I ride on airplane. I come see you
In Vegaaas. Come, Tati, come,
let’s go to my Yo-ya on airplane
in ehport. Come.” (to her aunt,
Our first born, and a soltera).


Pleading, the Skype-Granny,
Helpless, hapless on one end
Of the visual enabler, magic
Wand of lonely absentee lovers,
Quietly said, between sniffles:
“I will see you soon, darling,
Babalik na si Lola. Uuwi na ako.”*


The wee lass, yesterday’s infant
Still in their eyes, showed paper
Bills and coins: “look, Yo-ya,
I have money, and, and, I come
See you in Vegaaas.” Old folks,
On holidays, are never too far
To brush those little tears
Rolling off her reddened cheeks,
But they, too, cry who miss one
Precious wee lass grown feisty
Brandishing measly paper bills
To fly to filthy-rich Las Vegas
Bulging with gold on the Sierras.


---Albert B. Casuga
04-05-14, Las Vegas, Nevada


*Yo-ya (‘lola, endearment for abuela, grandmother in Spanish)
*Babalik na si Lola. Uuwi na ako. (Lola is coming back. I am coming home.)
Marie Clementine, is our 2-1/2 year old youngest granddaughter. Like her mother, she talks now in a rapid fire manner.

 



Friday, April 4, 2014

VISIONS AND REVISIONS



 
A Painting by Janet Weight Reed
 
 
VISIONS AND REVISIONS

 

Endless visions and revisions
will follow every work of art,
its end is also its beginning.

A cat straining to catch its tail
to earn its master’s delight?
But that’s not the metaphor.

When the last image attaches
itself to a final web of moving
yet still pictures on a canvas,

when the impasto of colours
have shaped the unuttered
angst trembling on the easel,

when sounds have moulded
sense into a riot of language,
creation is done, work begins.

Will the poem sing brightly?
Will the painting now speak?
When are they truly finished?

He shaped a man out of clay
and thought him imperfect,
he needed her to be complete.

How hard it must be for Him
to watch them destroy what
grows out of their love and loin.

Yet he was proclaimed good
and perfect among the trees
and the mud dried out of Eden.

How hurtful it must be for one
to start from the wreckage
of what began from ardent love.


---Albert B. Casuga

 



Thursday, April 3, 2014

LAS SIERRAS DE NEVADA: A SONG


 
 
LAS SIERRAS DE NEVADA: A SONG
 

“The mountains will not go to the Strip. Las Vegas must go to the Sierras. It is a matter of courtesy. They were here first.” --- A Strip Graffiti Artist
 

Listen to them whimper with the wind;
“We were here even before the hunters,
Scorched dry even before the rivers
Have caked into mud, molted into mire.
We will be here till time decrees our end.”

Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de las malditas;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están viejas.*
 
Not all the lust for life, gold and its lustre
In this pretend paradise-regained matter.
They were there even before hoary time
Stood still currying to man’s sad fantasies
Of earning back his purloined happiness.


Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de las malditas;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están viejas.*


Arid now, the mountain bends at its feet
Will turn to desert yet, and its hunger
Will be fed by sand clusters ripped by wind
That has brought chill down the border
Twixt the castles and the quiet mountains.


*We were here before the gold
In those houses of the evil ones;
Therefore, as a matter of principle
And courtesy, we go to the mountains.
Why not? They have become venerable.”


It is cold in the city now, the streets dying
To fold up while they can, but they cannot
While the doddering dotards still plying
Them have a penny or two cupped in hands
That tremble with a wish to be full at last.


---ALBERT B. CASUGA
The Strip, Las Vegas, 04-03-14