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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 7, 2015


POST #1 for THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES. MY EARTH POEMS TODAY were prompted by a post shared by Sylvia Morningstar and I, "The Great Grief: How to Cope with Losing Our World." As I have expressed before and now must scream again: This is my Great Grief. I cannot overcome it.

(For all who Grieve, For Our Mother Earth Who Grieves in Pain)

 IN June 2010, "Coastal Poems" and "Asia Writes" published my "Earth Poems", an unlikely Cassandra of disasters plaguing the planet. In this week's dailies, news about subsequent disasters all over the globe seemed to have validated fears of the true wrath of days descending on man.

The floods in Pakistan, the infernal temperature rise and resultant forest fires in Russia, the floods, fires, and mud slides in China, the temblors in unpredicted points, the outcrop of drug-resistant viruses, microbes, and diseases compounding these disasters were capped by news that the glaciers on Earth's poles are melting and ocean waters are threatening to reclaim terra firma.

I rewrote the Earth Poems to update on these calamities, but I am not laying claim on prophetic powers nor putting one over Nostradamus. I almost want to derive so much wicked delight over the realisation that I could say at this point, "I told you so," but I would rather not. It is not funny, you know.

I clip with this revision the week's disaster news.
(Please click on the image to zoom in on the text and pictures.)


It’s when I’m weary of considerations,/ And life is too much like a pathless wood.../ I’d like to get away from earth a while/ And then come back to it and begin over.../...Earth’s the right place for love:/ I don’t know where it’s likely to go better. --- Robert Frost, "Birches"


If you marvelled at the dance of the Northern Lights
Counterpointing the smouldering plumes of ashen smoke
Billowing out of an Eyjafjallajokull cradled by melting glacier,

Or quietly scanned the opal horizons of Banda Aceh swathed
In a glorious sunset chiaroscuro before the waves claimed
Atolls and infants back into the rip tide roar of that tsunami;

If you were ambushed by an unforgiving temblor that rocked
Haiti out of its romping in reggae regaled beaches turned
Into common graveyards of carrion crushed under rubble;

If you have walked through cherry-blossom-strewn streets
And smiled at strangers’ hallooing: How about this spring?
Before rampaging twister funnels crushed hearths and homes;

If you have strolled and danced ragtime beat on Orleans’
Roadhouses rocking rampant with rap and razzmatazz
Before Katrina’s wrath wreaked hell’s hurricane havoc;

If you still marvel at forest flowers as God’s fingers
And espy sandpipers bolt through thicket cramping marsh
Before infernal flames crackle through Santa Barbara’s hills;

If you have stolen kisses and felt purloined embraces
In the limpid ripples of Cancun’s caressingly undulant seas
Before the onset of the curdling spill on the playa negra;

If you braved the stygian stink of Ilog Pasig and sang songs
While harvesting floating tulips, debris, or stray crayfish
For some foregone repast before it turned into River Styx;

If you have lived through these and now blow fanfare
For Earth’s being the right place for love or maybe care,
You might yet begin to accept that Mother’s lullabies were
Also her gnashing of teeth when you wailed through nights
When slumber would have allowed her love not tantrums
Of infants grown now and “quartered in the hands of war”:


How else explain the wrath of days descending
not into quietness but pain? Has she not kept her anger
in check for all the tantrums of the Ages: Thermopylae,
Masada, Ilium, Pompeii? Hiroshima, Auschwitz, Nagasaki?
Stalin’s pogroms? The death chambers and Holocaust trains?
Polpot’s killing fields in Kampuchea? Rwanda’s genocide?

Before it lured tourist trekkers, the verboten Walls of China?
The Berlin Wall? The Gaza Wall? Fences of n.i.m.b.y.
neighbours: India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, splintered
Korea, the Irelands shorn of the emerald isles, the fractured
United Kingdom where the sun has finally set on its Empire,
the still haemorrhaging American southern states crippled
and still unyoked from black history but seething now
from the African-American’s irascible entitlement ---

With Zimbabwe’s apartheid, Congo’s rapes, Ethiopia’s
hunger, Sudan’s ceaseless putsch tango, Somalia’s piracy
trade, tribal wars in Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya,
will blacks overcome someday, soon? Only if they, too,
would get munitions from Venezuela’s bottomless vaults
gurgling with black gold, aceite y petroleo, and Oil of Ages.
Lubricator of the war and killing machines, in Oil we Trust.


Has it gone any better? Love on this piece of terra infirma?
The man crucified on Golgotha preached love,
And he got killed.
Free the enslaved black man, he cried in Gettysburg,
And he got killed.
The loincloth-clad man asked for non-violent resistance,
And he got killed.
Another Gandhi later, the distaff side, asked for peace,
And she got killed.
The man got his people to the moon, and said:
Ask not what your country can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your country.
And he got killed.
"I have a dream." He said that equality of races will ring true,
And he got killed.
Exiled and returning to forge a conscience for his people,
He said the “Filipino is worth dying for”.
And he got killed.


Guam gets rattled with its strongest quake yet, sunken atolls
In the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand become sea again.
Landslide carnavals in Brazil? Uganda, too? Chile quakes 8.2.
Russia’s galloping inferno will reach Chernobyl in no time.
Radioactive fallouts imminent; its reach unimaginable. 

What’s 14 million homeless like in Pakistan’s deluge?
Wait till China registers its numbers after floods, forest fires,
Mud and muck will roll out its carrion in denuded hills
Like stuck-up slaloms sloshing down where snow will soon
Cover all – not grass on knolls – just searing deserts. Gobi.

“An earthquake is expected on the fault lines between Israel
And Palestine”, the breaking news announces another temblor.
Nazareth shrines will be closed to pilgrims. And Jerusalem?
Closed. Gaza? Construction abandoned. Problems solved. 

Like the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo drove the Ugly American
From the Philippine’s Clark Base where the legions
Of armed rebels, limp politicos, and clap-infected whores
Could not. Tomorrow, then, the Ring of Fire.


Has it gone any better? Love on this piece of terra incognita?
That’s when Mother shushed you back to sleep,
An impatient rhythm clipping away what should have been
A gently lulling melody from the Song of Ages:

 "Rock-a-bye, baby on the treetop; when the wind blows,
The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle
Will fall; and down will come baby, cradle, and all."

The bough breaks, and you scream. Too late for that.

The cradle falls, she can’t pick it up. Exhausted and utterly
Spent, she mutters in her sleep: Spare the rod, spoil the child.

This is not a dream. The freefall is Mother’s little slip
When she could no longer hold you still, somnolence
Finally taking over, and your cri d’couer, a scream,
For help, for caress, for all the love gone from an empty room.

Tomorrow, if it comes, Mother will prop up --- backaches
Assault her waking days now --- will step into her plimsoll
As she would her dancing pumps, oil-soaked slippers.
She will slip and fall before anyone else wakes up.
She will yell: “Damn it, who spilled oil on the floor this time?”


POST #2 OF THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES. MY POEM TODAY. Mourning what's lost in the Great Grief moving through lands, water, wind, fire, mountains.


The golden light glistening on a black birch...
tells it all. How glorious can that summer sheen
be, seen against the mottled birch branches?

How crisply clear could a day be when cackles
of hungry fledgling crows remain unanswered?
Is it the aborted cry that restores a morning calm?

Have all the querulous puling benumbed this
valley into a lull not unlike that of a dead day’s
silence? Let them beg all they want. Let them cry.

Does anyone hear the starving orphan’s plea
cutting through these barriers of pine and poplar?
Do we hear them still erupting from Haiti’s debris?

Are there cankered mouths in Ethiopia waiting
for morsel? Can anyone locate the burnt slums
now floating with lilies and dog’s carrion in floods

all over the earth, from Manila to Missouri, from
China to India, from Brazil to temblor-struck Chile?
Do we still remember the children of New Orleans?

Their cri d’coeur have not stopped, but the crows
have ceased. I notice the bright day break through
the swaying willow trees, but my morning tea is cold.

—Albert B. Casuga

POST #3 OF THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES. MY POEM TODAY continues my series of The Great Grief poems highlighting the dread of losing our world to extinction.

(For all who care for Mother Earth's Pains)

A pile of fresh dirt at the woods’ edge: a groundhog has dug a den under the roots of a poison ivy-throttled maple. Will he itch all winter?—Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 11-23-11

Places shape us if we let them, like a dug den
at the woods’ edge would define the hog’s
winter under maple tree roots, poison ivy
wrapping its trunk at ground’s access points.

How much life can be eked out of this place
when boundaries throttle the explorer’s
spirit before one has started his exploration?
Not in my backyard, you don’t. Verboten.

There is poison in the air, water, dirt, or fire
from the bellies of the earth to the fusion
chambers of atomic energy plants; death
in coal-fired stations belching black smoke
to ozone distances, drought in global warming.
Seas gobble up atolls and resort isles; diseases
even sprout from infirmaries, and hospitals
become hospices for the dying and the dead.

Why must digging the dirt out of a den
start with the handicap of poison ivy?
Why plant genius and courage in a man
when his unbridled enterprise and struggle
can only lead to disasters that make burial
grounds his enduring, grandest monuments?

There is fresh dirt on the ground: An Occupier
will be buried among the tents in the park.
He could not restart his life; he took it instead.
Like that itch would do the groundhog in, I bet.

— Albert B. Casuga

POST #4 OF THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES: #4 We continue posting worldwide information on the dreaded loss of our world to the forces of extinction which sciences have pointed out are already taking place, here and now.

These are not only from abused environment, but also factors forcing from hearth and home some 60 million persons (at this count) worldwide because of WAR, INSTABILITY, POVERTY, REPRESSION & PERSECUTION, AND NATURAL AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS IN THE ENVIRONMENT.

IN ITS... July 5, 2015 WORLD dispatch, Canada's largest daily, The Toronto Star, published:

BEING FORCED FROM HOME FATE OF 60 MILLION WORLDWIDE. "The UN refugee agency shocked the world by reporting that almost 60 million people were now refugees or internally displaced. But for those in dozens of countries, it was not news. Although war is now a leading cause of relocation, other factors are forcing more people from their homes. As OLIVIA WARD reports, leaving is a hard choice driven by a variety of causes.


Syria's bloody conflict has sent more than 11 million people fleeing, and Iraqis are running from ethnic and religious violence.

But eight (8) wars in Africa including Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur, and northeastern Nigeria have displaced hundreds of thousands.

Yemen is in a civil war fuelled by foreign players. Eastern Ukraine remains a battlefield, and regional violence in Burma has forced thousands to leave.


 A number of countries are not officially at war but are teetering on the edge of all-out conflict with parts of their territories hit by outbreaks of violence and terrorism.

These nations include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Guinea, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as fragmented Libya.


POST #5. OF THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES: #5. We continue posting worldwide information on the dreaded loss of our world to the forces of extinction which sciences have pointed out are already taking place, here and now.
The Toronto Star July 5 dispatch by OLIVIA WARD. (continued)


Extreme poverty has forced citizens to leave citizens to leave numerous countries. often coupled with corruption and violent crime.

Thousands of Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Ecuadorans risk their lives to reach the U.S. Impoverished Bolivians and Peruvians head for Chile and Brazil. Millions of Filipinos flock to wealthier countries for work.

Those from Europe's southern and eastern flanks, including austerity-hit Greece, migrate to escape unemployment and destitution. As Puerto Rico's economy crashes, citizens are also fleeing.


 Crackdowns by Egypt's military-led regime have prompted many to leave.
So has Iran's persecution of suspected dissidents and members of religious minorities.
Irqi Christian and minority Yazidi minorities have fled persecution, as have China's Uighurs, Burma's Rohingya and Roma in Easter Europe. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have made life perilous for dissidents.

Russians have exited as Moscow represses dissent and punishes buma rights advocates and LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders) people. Homosexuals in 36 African nations fear [prison terms.

ENVIRONMENT (Natural and Man-made disasters)

Drying bodies of water. devastating storms and rising sea levels are making some regions unlivable.

From Inner Mongolia to Kazakstan, Africa's Sahel and parched Southern regions, to South Asia and even in the southern U.S., residents are finding it increasingly hard to survive, make a living or lead environmentally secure lives in prolonged drought and escalating heat. Thousands have died in India because of searing heat. Central Asia had some 200,000 antelopes perishing. Thousands of turtles have beached and died in Long Island, New York. Thousands of seals have beached in their natural habitats in the Artic regions to die. Fish have perished from algae poisoning. Ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, Pacific Islanders fear sinking in the sea.
(Click on Images to zoom in) AFP/Getty Images/File photos

POST #6.MY POEM TODAY is POST #6 0F THE GREAT GRIEF SERIES on the dread we might lose our world in the oncoming extinction.


If you braved the stygian stink of Ilog Pasig and sang songs
While harvesting floating tulips, debris, or stray crayfish
For some foregone repast before it turned into River Styx;
---IF: Earth Poems, Asia Writes Featured Poem, A. B. Casuga, June 2010

Five or six juncos at a time flutter down
to drink from the dark water of the yet
unfrozen stream covered by their lilac perches.
Elsewhere in the shantytowns of Haiti,
children jump into murky canals---
what’s left of them unburied by debris---
swim with the flotsam and carrion of dogs
and carcasses of swine felled by temblor.

Their raucous laughter and irreverent
hallooing mock UN relief workers mixing
purifiers, quinine, chlorine, into tanks filled
with dark water to supply the infirmary
nearest the canals with drinking vats
for the sick and dying, cleaning liquid
for strewn sputum, faeces, excreta galore,
and at end of day dark water for the
naked boys and prancing girls to swim in
with the floating carrion and lilies of the marsh.

The trill of snowbirds fluttering down
to drink from the dark water covered
by their lilac perches are dirges elsewhere
in the dark water canals of a wounded Earth.


POST # 7 IN MY "The Great Grief" Series. MY POEMS TODAY are a continuation of my posting information and realities about our dreaded loss of our world to extinction which is now extant here and now.


Howler 1. Who has seen the Wind?

Always the uninvited guest, the wind
pushes through the porch into the house,
and scatters leaves collected in its wake,
like a shower of crackling seeds freed
from pods that do not come from here.
Strange, how it barrels through rooms
disturbing spiders spinning webs busily
before the storm ebbs, safety nets strung
among sepia-tinted pictures on the wall.
What did it miss along the way? Winds
as interlopers are blind levellers–the rich
run for supplies as quickly as the poor do.
In New York, as in Virginia, the howler
brought in the flood, and left laughing.

Howler 2. The Strongest Typhoon on Earth

Yolanda, like the woman scorned,
Brought down wrath as wrath can:
Leap-frogged from south to north
Wrecking the City where Imelda
Rose from the sea like a Venus d’Milo
And now must weep over a mayhem
That will not spare even the loveliest
City that she swore to love but left
In favour of a city in the North
Whence a lover grew tall as hillocks,
Only to be pursued by this Yolanda
Bitch that threatens more wreckage
Before it gets to Viet Nam to flog
Unrepentant Viet Cong, Viet Minh,
“Viet-erans” of an American-exported
War that came as the Earth’s wildest
Wind that will also leave laughing---
An untamed howler that must sink
The reincarnation of the lost continent
Of Lemuria, once magical. A relic now.
A relic of the pillaged mendicants
Who have learned in turn to pray.


MY POEMS TODAY ARE POST #8 IN MY "The Great Grief" Series of information and realities about our dread of the loss of our world to the extinction that is being predicted to consume all life on Earth which is now here and now. Here are Poems 3 and 4 of the Howler Poems. "End Times" and "The Deluge Reprised".


3. End Times? It is here. Stop It. It is late.

On its tail is another wild wind to mop
Up, where the living would rather be dead
Than build sandcastles on islands gobbled
By the hungry sea that must claim dominion
Over the Ring of Fire, and Mother Earth
Can only yell: Damn it! Why puncture the sky,
To heat her armpits, with radioactive leftovers
Of Hiroshima, and the galloping horsemen
Of an unbridled Fukushima paying back
The land of Enola Gay and the hangar of a dark
Dirigible, a Negro Saviour, whose Eastern name
Will not stop the death and dying of civilisation
In Atlantis and now the rigour mortis of Mu?

4. The Deluge Reprised.
(Beware the melting of the Arctic).

A Deluge comes. Only this time, we have no Arks
Nor Ararats to salvage all who hope to find
Another Blue Planet in an extended Universe.
No one has applied to be a Noah. They are all,
All retired and tired of saving a ruthless specie,
The homo viator whose journey brings nothing
But a discovery that he has lost the Love he had
For all the meek who shall inherit the Earth.



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