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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.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

BIG QUESTION 2: CAN WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER?*

This is Poem-a-day #2 in my foray into using poetry to answer some of the Big Questions.* 

YOU AND I

Words in their primary or immediate signification stand for nothing, but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them. ---John Locke
 

Are you talking to me? Are you writing to me?
Answers to questions you pitch into the dark
are meanings I assign to the questions you ask.

Always, you and I, will be at opposite ends
of a half-lit hallway where echoes are as urgent
as the tremulous confessions we burden ourselves

with each time we look into our reflections
on the one-way mirrors we look into when hiding
hurts hurled like hunting knives at target trees.

When I call you, I mean to quickly hold you down,
to find your voice, to shape your feelings, to own
your thoughts, to mould you as I want to have you.

I interpret you through my own lenses and mirror
you as you would me and have our confluence
in this reflection, a dragging into a cold dungeon

of thought constructing meaning instead of finding
it, and the “You” becomes the “I” held in bondage.
Except that in this conquest, I lose everything.

Questions and answers become elusive phantoms
of meaning, configurations of troth to the other
turn into fantasy, dreams and desire but delusions.


---ALBERT B. CASUGA

*This poem was prompted by Simon Blackburn's "Can We Understand Each Other? Treating Words Carefully," The Big Questions: Philosophy, Quercus Publishing, London, UK, 2009 

 

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