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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, December 30, 2011

IN SOMALIA, A BETHLEHEM: TWO MORE CHRISTMAS POEMS





IN SOMALIA, A BETHLEHEM:
TWO MORE CHRISTMAS POEMS



Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:  for of such is the kingdom of God. --- St. Mark ch. 10 v. 14, the Holy Bible



1.  Los Ninos Inocentes


Heaven can wait. Hell cannot. Cut them
like flotsam and weed-traps wrapping
bloated carrion beelining toward the sea.
What controls cannot contain, infanticide
could quickly provide: terminate them,
abort before a trimester germinates more
burden, stop the plague of life on a dying
planet. When echoes of children’s laughter
could no longer be heard in a muted valley,
the elusive peace and quiet would be there,
no duties to rear, no grain shortages; wars
will cease from an attrition of warriors,
old soldiers wither in unstocked barracks,
the draftees will stop coming. They have all,
all perished, in abortion camps, in famine
camps, in evacuation camps, in flood camps,
in garbage dumps and landfills, God’s Act
stamped across records to avoid insurance
runs. The boys have been massacred before
in the hills of Bethlehem, and the pillage
written about in Gospel language as the day
of the innocents, now los ninos inocentes. 

Why can’t that be done again? No in vitros
will be possible, nor will it be allowed either.
Do not copulate, depopulate, depopulate!
Pill boxes will bear this mandate, absent
the plea for missing kids, more is better.
Hell will be heaven on earth, death is life,
and nothing will be everything. Zero sum.
Wrath descended, Apocalypse has come. 



2. Somalia’s Bethlehem


Sometime in the gloom of this dread, a hill
of burning sand replaces the stable manger,
and Somalia’s desert becomes a new world’s
Bethlehem. In its famine zones, a limp baby
struggles to stay alive. Minhaj Gedi Farah,
starves under a mosquito net in the world’s
largest refugee camp, “even his mother
has given up hope that her baby boy, Minhaj,
would survive,” reports the Associated Press. 

But magi and shepherds alike did not need a star
to lead them back to his tent. No gold, no myrrh,
nor incense gifted, just a mix of Plumpy’Nut,
AP calls a “cute name for vitamins and minerals
saving Minhaj. Three packets a day of the peanut-
based paste help a child gain up to two pounds
in a single week. It doesn’t require cooking or
refrigeration...Today, Baby Minhaj is thriving,
growing from seven lbs. in July to 18 pounds
in October, 2011.” And our world will not give up,
on all that is innocent. Not this boy, not all Earth’s
boys. No massacre will cut them down again,
nor troops to slay them in brutal Kenya camps.
There will be time enough for a Calvary, but not now,
nor Minhaj need be a redeemer. Mankind in his tent
will not be taxed for the sturdiest crucifying lumber,
all they need are 21 packets of Plumpy’Nut at $10,
and a deluge of epiphany: they are this brother’s keeper. 



--- Albert B. Casuga
12-29-11


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