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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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


TODAY'S POEM: They will grow strong. They will fly the coop. We have to learn how to let go. But how can love for them wean them from unending, unconditional love? Empty Nests are for the birds.


(For Katrina, the Ukrainian ...
Mother I met on my walk through the park. She was worried not only about her old mother who suffers from ailments of the ageing, but also about her own two little children {one in junior kindergarten she has to bring to school and go back to bring her warm food at lunch time]. For her anxieties and physical pains (early ageing pains at 45), I could only offer how often I miss my wee lads and lasses (grandchildren) on my dotage, but I have learned to let them go, as she would her mother and children in quite different departures, but leaving her still. Alone one day.

I told her she has her husband to grow old with, travel far with, watch the evening star together with, while they try to build their heaven together. She managed a smile, thanked me for the empathetic conversation, but I also brought tears to her eyes. I like to believe this repays the kindness I have encountered with the besieging "angels" I have met:

--- Wee children laughing with me; a happy ICU nurse laughing about how now that I am up and about after heart surgery I am blocking customers from shelves or produce and checkout counters; a kid who broke his leg and waiting for his mom to pick him up from the infirmary whose ambition is to become a policeman ("will your leg be healed enough then when you become the police chief of Brampton", I joshed Dante---a black lad---and he laughed aloud for the fist time in our waiting conversation, stuck two thumbs up before limping into their car (he was shy); and a happy bubbly cashier who gave my wife a chocolate bar when she found out from the banter it was the Goddess' birthday and that she has put me to work by bagging our groceries---

All of them my wife and daughter simply described as "nice people who are still around" (not your "imagined winged cherubs and seraphims, Dad," the wizened daughter says).

"Amor con amor se paga". (Repay love with love) I hope Katrina is happier now having unburdened herself with her fears. I listened quietly. She kept on talking about her dreads. Introduced herself and addressed me by my name. Then she left with her daughter sleeping in a pram with a smile and a warm wave of her hand. "Hope to see you again. You're so nice," she said in parting.

I waved back "goodbye" but also murmured "hello" to a smiling although beleaguered mother and daughter. From afar, she waved good-day but not goodbye..

I dedicate these poems and all the angel who "besieged me" when I needed to feel I am still on the good side of Our Lord.

1. An Uncertain Quiet

They will discover strength on their wings,
and, soon enough, they will find the sky,
and they will abandon these nests to fly
wherever their questions bring them.
However wild they are, they will ask them:
How far is the sun from this burnt branch?
Soon enough, even their needy nesting sound
will give way to breast-beating flutter of wings,
and they will be gone with the strangest wind
that scoops them off from an unsteady home
of inadvertent chances, and catch-as-catch can.
Icarus-like, they must test their flaccid wings
against the sinews of a wild summer wind. O.
Is this uncertain quiet an augury of mourning?

2. Her Vigil

It will not cease, nor will the smell of grass
supplant the scent of brine from this sea,
this angst from absence that was not worth it.
I must keep their plates on the table. Keep vigil.
They will come home, even as hints of shadows.
I must keep their beds warm, however cold they
left them. They will come back from the storm.
It will soon be over before they know it. I know.


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