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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, May 27, 2011

THE SMELL OF KNOWING (Conversations with Stick Series #2)

There are smells, and there are scents. Which is it?
When the smell of heat thickens in the morning,
that would be your scent of toil, the smell of work.
That will not be smelled in Joplin when it wakes up
to the potpourri of cracked-open trunks, blown off
branches, debris dust, and wafted septic tank odours.
There will be the scent of fear that crumpled houses
have crumpled bodies that could no longer smell
this scent of anger cloyed into helpless disbelief.
How does fury smell when it descends on the fearful?
The funnels that have twisted flaccid limbs into braids
of half-extended embraces, empty arms flailing in air,
did they bring with them the redolence of apocalyptic
stench, or the stygian miasma of inexorable defilement
promised on the Day of Rapture, now a ruptured tale?
What scent do we assign the sweat and drivel dripping
from the agape and limp body of a mother’s barricade
to shelter her suckling infant, alive and puling at sunrise?
Will the smell of a sunlit palace of leaves at a greenhouse
that was spared provoke the promise of a better day?
The oriole’s song, is that the dread left by the scent of death?
Talk to me, Stick. I cannot understand the smell of knowing.
—Albert B. Casuga

Poetic Prompt: Morning Porch, by Dave Bonta, 05-26-11. The early-morning air is already thick with the smell of heat. Sunlit rooms in a palace of leaves. The oriole’s glossy song.

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