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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, September 2, 2014



(For Father and Mother)

1. His Heartache

How much of a pain is too much?
Is it a bottomless wound, gaping
like the sun when the dark sky
ought really to be shroud of gloom?

Must it cut through every layer
of lost time blurring remembrance?
It will not scab over, it is forever
like all sunrises and all sundowns.

Those haunting eyes that follow him
from the picture resting on a wall
now peeled off its once bright colour,
is the shape of that unending heartache.

“I will cut my heart out before I forsake
you, madre querida,” he promised her
at his father’s deathbed. Like that bright
gaping wound in a naked, blackened sky,

it is a raw sunburst that makes her smile
on the stalking picture a piercing sneer.
How much of pain is too much?
Not as much as her silence even in pain.

2. His Heart’s Wound

When he droned his last tone-deaf hum,
he also threw the blood-stained scalpel
like a squashed fly off his ruffled sleeve,
pronounced his work a thing of beauty,
and snapped off his drooled-on mask:

“All done. Great cut. Clean up, please.”
He patted the thinly heaving body’s chest:
the wan poet “etherised upon a table”,
he smirked, knowing  then who his patient
was, a wordsmith at the school on the hill.

Yeomanly, she quietly salved the wound,
“a nurse of my heart, O, my nightingale,”
he flirted before submitting to the knife;
surprised, she stammered: “A Crucifix!”
Etched deftly under her gentle fingers
was a tree on the Hill of Skulls at an angle
bright and ruddy on his mottled breast.

“Hence forward,” he said, finding the cut
staring at him the days after,  “my cross
to bear, a troth to Mother and Father,
lest I forget that they waited for their son
before they left.  But I was not there.”
How much pain will this Cross be? Pain?
Not as much as their silence even in pain.
Mississauga, September 2, 2014


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