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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.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


"We are made of light, did you know that?" A late, lamented poet friend, Bayani M. de Leon, once asked me while we drank gin on a football field. I thought he was drunk then, because I fancied myself as a zygote from Mother and Father. Just that. He was right. He is right. 

1. Big Questions

What would it be like if there were no light?
The world, as we know it, ends with a whimper.
If there were no sun, all things would ebb like
floodwaters into black cisterns, dark vessels
where everything is nothing, where still points
are pointless stillness, a silence of the dead.

Who would see the hand of God in all creation?
Let there be light, a primal dictum, would be a shot
in the dark, a desperate plea of blind virtual lives,
cyber civilisation nowhere near a tungsten lamp.
Denied the power of Microsoft, the hard and fast
friendships of the Facebook, when will life begin?

Sans pings, bytes, binaries, infernal halogen head
lights, movie houses, Las Vegas slot machines,
a city that never sleeps, nuclear plants, scopes—
telescopes or gastro scopes—why would a world be?

2. Small Answers

For a small campfire by the sea to singed the smelt
to go with the purloined gin and tin cup of coffee.
Why? To mark the rhythm of shadows on the wall
when all one has is the warmth of frenzied caresses.

What would this cranny in Manhattan’s holes
be like without those lamp posts? Will benches
in the park be any better as sleepers for the tired
and angry without woodfire in those filthy drums?

Quieter that all this palaver, I guess. Certainly less
involved than asking for a light on a cold night
when a deep and good smoke will mean a distance
between life and death: a warm mouth massage.

Except that these answers are smaller questions.
Why answer questions with yet another question?

3. Yesterday’s Answer: A Lady of Candles*

It is what we have this candle for. To light
And brighten what we ought to, need to---
Life being all too brief---that through this,
We can accept this fiercely warm yet gentle
place we have been given, noblesse oblige,
To enjoy, to love, to offer for the wounds
And the pain of this lonely struggle, a life
We know we must give back when we end
The journey to get back to our beginning
To know it again and again as the still point
Of a dazzling light of Lights beyond this hole,
A sharp shining scimitar to slay an imitation
Of living where one strives only for the wind,
A quiet dragon breathing nothing but cold fire.


*Nuestra Senora de Candelaria


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