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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.

Monday, April 22, 2013


This is Poem #22 in my series of poem-responses to life's Big Questions, a poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month (NaPoMo, April 2013). Of course, death and dying are always significant questions.
What does it mean to die? Has anyone come back to tell us what really lies beyond? It is an inexorable truth, but aside from the clinical meaning of dying, what emotions are felt at the critical moment? Has anyone come back from the other side to confirm certain romanticized beliefs about eternity thereat, or infinite bliss with one's Maker? Is it true that beyond it lies "the nobility of man, and beyond it the only hope?"


When I am dead, my dearest,/ Sing no sad songs for me,/Plant thou no roses at my head,/ Nor shady cypress tree:/ Be the green grass above me.---Christina Rossetti

When death and dying are lumped together
as “kicking the bucket,” there seems little
reason for a lachrymose ritual that will cost
a lifetime’s nest egg. And yet, and yet.

A send-off at sea is as good as any–one
is flushed off the starboard to become part
of whence life came, or where it ends. Debris.

Do not send for whom the bell tolls, some
tired man holding a ready bucket of waste,
warned the unready, unprepared, or untidy.
Inexorably, inevitably, the bell takes its toll.

Like a confusing game, kicking the bucket

is nothing but a tiresome waiting game.
Let the jasmine bloom where they may,
when they may; no one has yet come back
to say if they, too, were enriched by manure
from the overturned pail, nor say, when the day
the game ends, they had no bucket of waste.


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