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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, July 2, 2013




It is a rhythm we learn early enough:
that bird’s quiet climb up a trunk
is also its feeding hour; it is working
for its transient stay in this palace
of trees at the edge of the woods.

From a porch, between sips of tea,
the watcher espies the cuckoo dance
on the tulip tree--a hop-skip-and-pick
not unlike the hip-hop kids’ dancing
away from embalming classrooms
at end of day: hop-skip-and-pick

pebbles to throw at a party of wrens
that whirr noisily away, squawking
mayhem at hallooing children who
cackle at the frenzy as if they were
born to raise hell, and for the fleeing
birds to screech for mercy, mercy!

The rhythm of a summer day: a bird
on the tulip tree minding its business
is scared silly by the clangor of a dump
truck rattling through raven packs
snatching trash from spilling bins
that line up the street like pallbearers.

Elsewhere in Tripoli, napalm bombs
scare dumpsite scavengers picking up
metal to shape the bullets for another
day’s battle. Rhythms of a day, we call it.

What have we discarded cutting through tunnels
we must have plodded to quarry from lives we
might have been accidentally given? What loves
have we found, what hearts have we lost? Layers
of clay, cracked stones, and silt could build us our
houses of hurts and ruptured dreams. Not a home.

But we take care to wake up to days we can shape,
to moments we could mould like delicate bowls
whence we share victual and drink for our hungry
and thirsty souls. When travel becomes a burden
of faithlessness or pain, we call each other out:
Be brave, hold on, take on the world if we must!

When these passageways fall dark, we walk on.
After all, our lives are not made of discarded days.


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