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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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

DRINKING THE DARK WATER (A Poem Triggered by a Ligne Donee [Given Line])


If you braved the stygian stink of Ilog Pasig and sang songs
While harvesting floating tulips, debris, or stray crayfish
For some foregone repast before it turned into River Styx;
---IF: Earth Poems, Asia Writes Featured Poem, A. B. Casuga, June 2010

Five or six juncos at a time flutter down
to drink from the dark water of the yet
unfrozen stream covered by their lilac perches.

Elsewhere in the shantytowns of Haiti,
children jump into murky canals---
what’s left of them unburied by debris---
swim with the flotsam and carrion of dogs
and carcasses of swine felled by temblor.

Their raucous laughter and irreverent
hallooing mock UN relief workers mixing
purifiers, quinine, chlorine, into tanks filled
with dark water to supply the infirmary
nearest the canals with drinking vats
for the sick and dying, cleaning liquid
for strewn sputum, faeces, excreta galore,
and at end of day dark water for the
naked boys and prancing girls to swim in
with the floating carrion and lilies of the marsh.

The trill of snowbirds fluttering down
to drink from the dark water covered
by their lilac perches are dirges elsewhere
in the dark water canals of a wounded Earth.

Mississauga, 1-21-11

The Given Line (Ligne donne) that triggers the poem:

Juncos fill the lilac, nearest cover to an unfrozen section of stream. Five or six at a time they flutter down to drink from the dark water.---Dave Bonta, Morning Porch, 1-21-11

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