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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, October 6, 2014



I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it/Since what is kept must be adulterated?—T.S. Eliot, Gerontion


Nothing could be taken back, nothing offered.
The passion I thought I had is an old saw--
it would not, could not cut through the years
that have turned into whorled cores in a tree
cut down in the harvest of logs, in a clearing
that will not grow again. Will not be here again.
Dry timber in a forest fire. Ashes in my mouth,
like loves left unsaid. Nothing to take back nor give.


Looking for a good time to stop,
is to stop looking, like slumping
on a fallen trunk or a trail rock
jagged and jutting out of the bluff.
Morning walks get longer along
empty spaces before familiar curbs
signal a turn to what we wait for:
the final bend. We are back home.

Now Albert is coming back,
make yourself a bit smart.”* Eliot,
of course, said it for me earlier.
How long ago was that, when I
read those Wasteland lines? How
long have I waited to use them?
Is this a good time yet? I waited.

Because we have seen the clues,
because we have seen them all
already, I know it is time to stop
waiting, sum up the bill, and go.
What was I given to bear the pain
of knowing that I did not know?
Or build a home I could not live in?
What tools must I now return?

In summing up, I will discount this,
in the game of haggling for a place
back in the Garden. Our stay here
was overpaid. We waited too long
for that room with a better view,
that terrace with a canopy of roses,
and blue birds trilling on the sill.
O, for a touch of that distant sky!

Next time around, if there is one,
I will be smart. I will settle only for
a room where I could see the sky
and the sea conspire to eat the sun.
Nothing could be taken back, nothing

offered. The passion I thought I had
is an old saw—Ashes in my mouth.
Burnt dry timber, loves left unsaid.


Mississauga, October 6, 2014

* T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, II. A Chess Game, T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950)


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