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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, June 17, 2011

A DIALOGUE ON A QUARRY (Conversations with Stck Series #13)

It is a Ground Zero thing, Stick; no one talks about it now
except the minute men, make that capitals: M & M.
No, not those candies, silly. But never mind. That blast
could have been heard around the world if it were there.
Wall (Money) Street, the United (Debating) Nations,
Greenwich Village, Chinatown, the Nooyawktimes,
the Clinton Bronx, ad misericordiam. What would
America be minus them? But,  pray,  not Hollywood!
Oh, we “will bear any burden, oppose any foe…”*
It’s why we have footprints on the moon, the Internet,
Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! and Lord, the CIA.
What would this planet be without these amber waves
of grain? This land of the brave, this home of the free?
I say, Stick, that’s one too many blasts from two miles
away. Praise Yahweh! But that must be the quarry boys
down there, blasting the minerals out, fossil for our Fords,
and gold. Elsewhere, my errant friend, when downstream
natives in the Philippines hear a blast one too many, they
will hasten with their basins to sieve the golden morsels
downriver, as they did in Ye Old Yukon north of the border.
And in old Benguet, in the boondocks of the Flip’s Mountain
Provinces, in the Itogon mines. Saturday nights in the grills
of Baguio City, that pinetree haven of my youth and undying
affection: all suborned by the American presence. Bullions.
Sinatra asked once in that song: What is America for me?
An M&M neighbour (shhh…) said: Dang! A land of the free!
Beware the wrath of the little citizen in Plummer’s Hollow:
he says: never again; his Hispanic brother: Nunca jamas!
Never again will American blood be shed in American soil!
Stick, aroused from stupor asked: Where then, milord?
Where? I gulped down my cup of cold tea—Nestea?—and
spat it out. Shut up, Stick, geopolitics on this porch is risky.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: A loud blast from the quarry two miles away: the kind of literal “terrorist attack on American soil” nobody but the neighbors ever mentions.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-16-11

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