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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, August 19, 2011



Too many times like passing ships, at both ends of missed/opportunities. Why can’t we touch at the center, in silence?---From “Ghazal of Unattainable Silence” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 08-17-11

Her stony silence was her bullwhip,
she did not have to raise her raspy
voice to make us fall in line and freeze
if that were what hell was made of.

Her eyes fixed at a shadowy distance,
she would not bother to look our way.
We always knew she had absconded
once again to a place we will not find.

There are low zarguelas trees there,
their fruit are within your easy reach.
Just stretch your hands as high as
you could toward the sky. Zarguelas!

We would hide in the farm for days,
and you would cook rice cakes for us,
and pick green mangoes from the tallest
tree, and cut off pineapple eyes for me!

I would look at you in silence for hours
and whisper how much I would lose
if you had gone away and not come home.
O, how my whole world would crumble!

If she could lisp those words she wrote
him when he rushed off to that war none
of us would wish even on the slit-eyed
enemy, she would be singing them now.

Abuela, tell us about that place where you
found him chopping wood for the vats
you brought to cook the sweetest rice cakes
to last you two a lifetime. Abuela, tell us.

We fall silent at the hint of a smile on her
quivering lips that would have formed
his name who might have just passed by
on a cold breeze like a silent passing ship,

to touch her back, her hair, her face---
but she looked away into that dark, distant
place uttering perhaps her fondest rebuke:
You are home! What took you so long?

O, if only her silence were just the stillness
of a quiet memory. Not ceaseless mourning.

---Albert B. Casuga

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