My photo
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, December 15, 2016



A condition of complete simplicity/ (Costing not less than everything)---Little Gidding, The Four Quartets, T.S.Eliot

Cocooned in a condition of utter simplicity,
the silkworm will not stop oozing out its tapestry
onto the point of death which is also its beauty.

How much beauty can be eked out of pain?
Like the hurt bivalved flesh of the grimy oyster,
would the papillon wings glisten like a pearl?

But this one is spun out of patience: there
must be radiance out of a cocoon’s dark
confines. It can only break into mobile light.

Colour the mariposa green, would that matter?
Dye the silk out of its consumed gossamer nets,
would that stop its flying out of a crude beginning?

Arrested from its final transfiguration, the worm
turns and it is on a table–the grub of culinary
quintessence! Quite like an earlier challenge:

“Eat of my flesh, drink of my blood. This covenant
shall not be broken. I will be with you again when
the radiance of this goblet dims into a eucharist.”

A condition of simplicity? Bear beauty and perish?
Offer an unending dream in a kingdom, and be slain?
The tale of the supreme sacrifice is also immolation.

What does it matter that I die then, if I flew out
of a trellis like the monarch butterfly, that started
as a wormed-out silkworm then food for the hungry?

I would be the worm, the injured mother pearl,
the crucified madman who asked that his flesh
be eaten, his blood quaffed, and live forever.

Beauty is an omen. Destroy this vessel of clay,
and it can only spill the reddest of wine, the
stoutest of ale: a dangerous promise of eternal life.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

  1. MY SUITE OF LOVE POEMS TODAY was prompted by Leonard Cohen's
  3. (For Leonard Cohen, RIP)
  4. ...
  5. “Ring the bells that can still ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in” ~ Leonard Cohen

  6. 1. Her Questions

  7. How far have you gone from all that you were,
    little chipped stone from a hidden tributary,
    little pebble that has yet to reach the bottom
    of the well to hear its thunk and come to rest?

  8. How far, indeed, that you must finally beg
    to be taken home? Where, what place, what
    troubled spaces have you been all these years?
    Bitter years, you say almost in descant candor.

  9. Take you home? But where do you belong?
    If I knew, if I could follow that map long
    faded in your doleful heart that has dogged
    every fickle chord from every pied piper—

  10. If I could find every pied-a-terre you’ve been
    that I might collect the shattered life pieces
    left of your gypsy heart so I could remould
    them to our heart’s desire, I would. I will.

  11. Take you home. Prop you up, start you up
    once again from whence you came, where
    your heart is not merely a sieve for sorrow
    or pain, but where it is a fortress of care.

  12. 2. His Ardent Offer as His Plea

  13. I am back, but I have nothing new to say,
    nor anything that I can offer save myself.
    Unchanged, undefined, unshackled, free.
    There is no other way you would have me.
  14. Would you rather I had lost my insouciance?
    Would you have me speak only one language,
    that of fear, and would not risk this loss again?
    Sing only your song? Part my hair another way?
  15. At the edge of the woods, I have mastered wiles.
    You’d think I had changed and now just a shadow
    of a broken man come home to lick old wounds
    that were left unsalved, cankered when I lost you.
  16. I am the same, and this sameness will make you
    want to look again even if the thousand faces
    that you behold are those from a shattered mirror
    through whose cracks some light must still slither.

  17. 3. Looking Back to Coming Home

  18. Trek back to the church belfry and be the deft
    hands of the carillonneur you wished you were
    when you were young, malleable, and oh, so free
    to dream, to laugh, to thumb your little nose

  19. at the carousing lads vaulting over rooftops
    to call your name, to sing your name like
    perching sparrows lined on some errant wires
    at sunset warbling: sweet-sweet, sweet-sweet!

  20. Take me back. Take me back. And we will retrace
    those letters carved on some saplings grown tall
    beyond our reach, and sing with carillon clangor
    those old evensongs, brave songs. Old love songs.

  21. We will outdo the bell choir master on the belfry,
    ring them all, sing them all, hum them all until
    sundown overtakes us and we hold our tremulous
    voices like our stuttered promises of coming home.


Sunday, August 28, 2016



MY POEMS TODAY spell out my Ars Poetica as a practitioner of the literary art of poetry---the most venerable of the literary arts.

Like most literary artists, I restate my Ars Poetica as I write. This reminds me of an aesthetic which I may have defined some time ago in my The Aesthetics of Literature, a book I wrote for my literary theory and criticism classes at the De La Salle University in Manila. (ca. 1970s)

These poems, like those of poets Archibald MacLeish and Jose Garcia Villa, articulate my poetic credo. Describing the process, I also keep in mind the kind of poetry I deign to create.


It is a fiery birthing: after the lonely call
of the last gull that darts after the last
glow of sundown; after the sandpiper’s
song peters out to a lost bird’s chirp;
after all the images have crept under
these breakwater boulders to surface
perhaps as frenzied dancers casting
shadows swaying underneath this tent,
this caravanserai of dreams; after this,
on a throne of palaver, a fire-bearer
lights the torches that fence us all in.

Like Apollo’s captives, we cup flames
in our palms and sing polyglot hymns
to the beauty of words while we shower
our paths with pellets of fire, as we crown
the beggar queen with a flaming nosegay.


(An Ars Poetica)

Surfacing. We allow ourselves this one
salving act when every balm fails.

Bobbing up for air where it is rare,
we pray that this will hold long enough.

Enough for the moments at dusk when
we must dive again, submerge again,

into depths we know will one day hold us
down, and remain there to mend hurts

that in those magical spaces become
like pearls: prickly cutting dirt engulfed

into bivalved flesh that may in turn
become a magical gem from the agony.

Surfacing, we find ourselves some river
stream to rest with the rolling river stones.

Surfacing, we know we must go back
to the darkened depths, and like oysters

bear the pain cutting through our flesh
that we may surface soon with a new pearl.


Friday, April 22, 2016


APRIL 22, 2016, Philippine National Artist for Literature EDITH TIEMPO's 97th Birth Anniversary. Remembering a dear mentor and a literary giant.


Edith L. Tiempo, poet, fictionist, teacher and literary critic, was born on April 22, 1919 in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. The daughter of an auditor who had been assigned in various places in the country, she spent her childhood and pre-teen years in Laguna, Pasig, Zamboanga, Surigao, and Samar.

Back in Nueva Vizcaya, she began corresponding with Edilberto K. Tiempo, then already a published writer, who had written a story with a protagonist named after Edith's older sister Arlynne. She wrote Ed Tiempo to ask for an explanation, and the exchange of letters began. Ed Tiempo would become the greatest, most enduring influence on her life and her writing. They both studied in U.P.--he took up his M.A. and she began her law studies. But after only one semester, they got married, went to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and settled there.

Ed left for the States in 1946 on a fellowship at the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, and Edith followed in 1947, after she graduated from Siliman, magna cum laude.

They stayed in the U.S. a few more years to study and teach--from Iowa to Michigan, then Denver--then returned to Dumaguete. In 1962, they founded the Silliman Writers Workshop, the first of its kind in Asia, where many of the Philippines' best writers have honed their craft. They spent every single summer since then managing the workshop, even sharing their wedding anniversary celebrations (May 20) with the writing fellows.

University funding for the workshop stopped in 1992, and for the next thirteen years, the workshop continued through the efforts of workshop alumni, who formed the Creative Writing Foundation, Inc. and the Dumaguete Literary Arts Service Group, Inc.; with generous support from CAP College, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and various groups and individuals.

Edith L. Tiempo's influence as teacher of literature and writing is beyond measure. She is one of the finest Filipino writers in English. In the words of poet Gemino H. Abad, Edith has established a tradition in writing with “two distinguishing marks: a fine critical sense for language and poetic form, and a ceaseless quest for that synergy of idea and emotion by which the Filipino sensibility is most fully expressed.” Her poems are models of organic unity, each word inevitable, each line earning its keep. Her fictional characters are complex and memorable, a confluence of conflicting impulses and principles. When writing fiction, she always starts with character, even in The Builder, which she calls her most plot-driven novel.

She was conferred the National Artist Award for Literature in 1999.


A Blade of Fern (1978)
His Native Coast (1979)
The Alien Corn (1992)
One, Tilting Leaves (1995)
The Builder (2003)

Abide, Joshua, and Other Stories (1964)

The Tracks of Babylon and Other Poems (1966)
The Charmer’s Box (1992)
Beyond, Extensions (1993)
Marginal Annotations (2001)
Commend, Contend (Work in progress)

Introduction to Literature (Co-authors Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo and Fr. Miguel Bernad), Manila: R.P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1980
College Reading and Writing (Co-author Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo), Manila: Rex Publishing House, 1964. Revised editions, 1967, 1980

Six Uses of Fictional Symbols, University of the Philippines Press, 2004
Six Poetry Formats and the Transforming Image: A Monograph on Free Verse, 2008

National Artist Award for Literature, 1999
Various Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards and Philippines Free Press Awards in the short story and poetry categories
National Fellow in Poetry, UP Creative Writing Center, Manila, 1992-1993
Negros Oriental Centennial Commission Award for Outstanding Negrense in Art and Culture, jointly with Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo, 1991
L.T. Ruiz Professional Chair in English, 1981-89
Outstanding Sillimanian Award, August 28, 1989
UMPIL Award-Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas jointly with Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo,1988
Focus Magazine Special Citation in Poetry
The First Leon Kilat Trophy, jointly with Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo, as Distinguished Citizens of Negros Oriental in the field of literature, 1987
Cultural Center of the Philippines First Prize in Novel, His Native Coast, 1979
Elizabeth Luce Moore Disitnguished Asian Professor, 1977-78
Region VII Award of Recognition in Poetry, 1975

*(Reprinted from the Edith Tiempo Blog)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

back cover blurb for language of ashes

"Language of Ashes", Joel Pablo Salud's first collection of his poems, is worth spending precious life time on. I know I have scarcely any left---physical, spiritual, even literary--- but I find reading his poems a delightful jolt (he would call it "orgasm", not afraid to use all forms of linguistic figures to capture his poetic "meanderings" --- no, not "rants") for their breadth of content and sagacity (audacity?) of style and unobtrusive technique. He describes this book as a collection of love --- and he has them aplenty, the poem for his wife Che being stellar; viz., "Your love/ So strangely swirling without shore/ Binds me to you---a feather or a wing/ Heart beat among breasts of honey." In "Song for Eve", (feminine mystique, really), he sings "...words mean little when set against/ the cuddles of suns in your eyes... how can all this be a thing too odd/ when men love more richly because of you?" It is lyrical and romantic lines like these that made me squirm with envy. Oh, that I could have shed all restraint and burst into unbridled warbling in my poetic diction! Yet, he writes: "I cannot for the sake of brevity/ Impose my will on a word..." for he declares in his ars poetica --- in "I Write" --- "I write to sculpt/ creatures, dye their/ eyes with metaphors/ primrosed by time." Indeed, his metaphors could easily be "over-the-top" were it not for their coalescing into a clear gestalt of imagery when he writes finis to a poem. This is an unerring mark of a gifted poet. Mr. Salud's collection is a stout collection of poems on persons, (writers Nick Joaquin, Edith Tiempo, F Sionil Jose, Jorge Guillen, Dylan Thomas, Che Sarigumba), politics and culture (in "Oremus", "Mendiola Massacre, 1987"), engaging musings on themes poets are never caught without, Indeed, he admits" "It is the wreckage of a soul/ where poems reign." That would even involve poems of vomits, inebriation of assholes, the naked and erotic, and bravely whimsical use of street language that en fin would sound poetic---beat that. "I am not a spool/ Of blunt words,/ A gathering of moss-eaten/ Homes, fallen trees/ And the roots of manes/ Where ingots coalesce/ Brooding and frozen." I shall not torture this "blurb" with a book review or even a critique --- not yet --- I eagerly look forward to reviewing it, and finally criticising it for its literary merits in order to establish its rank as a poetic achievement in his country and internationally. This book is that good. I have read a number. ---ALBERT B. CASUGA, Canada

Friday, April 1, 2016



A condition of stillness pursues you,
wherever you find your exile, at sea
or in any exploration. You will be there.

It is your image on the mirror: an old
longing for the simplicity long lost
in the shuffle of life, loves, and losses.

Every wave that beats on the ballast
asks: Are you happy at last? Will this
outlast the lingering left-over dread?

Out there where waves break at the edge
of the firmament of quiet stars on stars
you can see through moving darkness.

Where have all the pains remained?
On what shores did you neglect to load
them, overstaying albatross of gloom?

Your heart leaps with the bobbing bow
and stern, and you whisper a prayer
drowned quickly by the sea. You laugh.

They cannot haunt you anymore than
dead memories can bear you down.
You have built a mansion of dreams.

You have been here before, haven’t you?
Exploring the depths of what happiness
you could grab, you will hold them.

You will never let them slip away; you
have earned them. In this brief exile
on the sea, would you hold on to this

sudden grace of simple stillness?
Will this still simplicity pursue you
wherever you roam? Come home then.




(For Joanna Allas-Fojas's Pier Photo)
They will not break though
waves may lave and years may find
them when rot sets in.

---Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, February 14, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by a post by KATE BOWLER who has written on God and the faithful, the Prosperity Gospel, and Death. She has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer and she wonders why the God she is faithful to rewards her faith with this illness.


(For Kate Bowler and all the Faithful)

He said it first: after this death,
there is no other. It is peremptory.
But a world without a memory,
is as final as it can get without you.
Will it be a place where love is free?
Magical, except you can’t come back.
The pictures will be on the walls,
as mute as the hooks they hang on.
They will not talk to you, they can’t.
Even if they could, they would not.
Even if you have become the cobweb
wrapped tight on the broken frames,
you would not have been there. No.
You are not part of the furniture.
Like dust in abandoned houses, you
will inhabit the nooks and crannies,
and would not be disturbed until
termites take over. Too late then,
because you are not even a remnant
of temps perdu, you are lost in time
and in space; even among the stars
and black holes, you are not there.
Like the sound of a single hand
clapping, you will not be heard.
The first death is always the last.


Saturday, February 6, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY ARE ON "EXTINCTION". These poems were prompted by a post on "Where have all the flowers gone?" Man has caused the sixth extinction which started as early as the 1700s.


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.

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.


Thursday, February 4, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY ARE ABOUT AGEING AND HOW people respond to the process. This effort was prompted by the blog post of Janet Weight Reed on her take on ageing. (See her post right after this in my Timeline, and in her "My Life as an Artist (2)".)

(For my Life Partner in My Twilight Years)

"And these few precious days, I'll spend with you....these golden days, I'll spend with you. ---September Song"


"Ah, to be old and a mariner come upon that restful cove,/ Where the final weapon is a chair not love;/ To be old, cher ami, is a gallant slouching on that chair/ Some porch of the heart grown insensitive to care ------ “Houses are Better Off Without Porches Here”, From my "A Theory of Echoes (Selected Poems)", UST Publishing house, 2009)


Sitting on her Florentine chair
Atop the red-tiled stairs, the sirocco
Breeze playing with her ivory hair,
She awaits her turn to say hello:
A caudillo-like half-raised wave
And a schoolmarm’s smile on her
Waxen face, a smirk at times to save
Her some chagrin falling off a chair
While she wags childlike to say:

"Blow a kiss to your window-waving
Girl, say au revoir for now, and pray
That as she grows up, won’t stop loving.
"And they do grow and go away,
And you’d be left sitting on a chair
Wondering why they have flown
Like swallows, and hope would care
To come back and perch at sundown."

“Favorite spot,” Nguyen Cao Tran pointed
To the bench on Lincoln Green before
He waved me bonjour the Montreal way.

“Favorite spot for wife and me…drink
Tim Horton Coffee from across,” he winked,
Now unafraid his accent might betray
A Viet Minh rasp from Saigon days,
A shrapnel buried on his nape: “Still smoke
Camel sticks from GI Joe friend in Frisco.”

He looked away when I remembered to ask
About Nguyen Bao. “Isn’t she walking
With you this morning? It’s spring, mon vieux!"

He mumbled: “She gone…far away now,”
And shuffled away, his knapsack slung
Like a rifle crooked on his flaccid hand.

A single cup of Roll-up-the-Rim teetered
On the bench the next day while I waited.
No cups on the ground, the bench was naked.

"Caminare. Fare una passeggiata.
Eh, come stai?" She shot back looking askance.
Perched birdlike on her stroller, she inched
Her way to the middle of the cul de sac ---
Where I tarried, a wide wave our ritual,
I called out, "Come va, Nonna?"

Her andador tilted off the cobbled strada,
She stared blankly, but smiled nonetheless
In the courtly manner she never failed to show
To neighbours and strangers alike.

Her sallow skin becomes her regal face,
I thought, but the same face furrowed,
Her eyebrows arched impatiently then;
She demanded: "Are you the police?
Or are you my son with a Florida tan
Hiding as usual from me? I called them
From 2441 because I could not find
My house, nor my keys. Was just walking,
Was just enjoying the sun for once.
Crazy Calabria weather. Rain. Sun. Wind.
Sun. Snow. Cold. Hot. Aiee... Who are you?

“2441 is your house, Nonna. And you have
A daughter who will be here tomorrow.
And this is Mississauga. I am Alberto
With the nipotes Chloe, Louie, & Marie at 2330.”

"Aieee...dolce angelo! My angels.
How are they? E come va, amore mio?
Caminare. Fare una passeggiata.
O, com `e bello, O sole bello!
But you will help me find my home,
Won’t you? Won’t you? Amore?"

A lilt on her voice, she flirted rather coyly.

(Para mi Madre)
Los pajaritos están dejando su nido;
el invierno de su vida ha venido
tan muy temprano!

Mira! Mira! Madre mía.

Tan fuerte ahora, sus pájaros
están volando a puertas desconocidas;
están volando tan lejos para que
nunca jamás devolver y quedar en la casa
de corazón triste, ahora casa abandonada,
nida desolada, madre mía.

O mi madre querida!


“I just wish your Father would come and take me soon. I am tired,” Mother said and closed her eyes. --- From a Visit to Poro Point, Writer’s Notebook, 2009

The flannel blanket was an armour:
it shielded me through nights I needed you
to defend me against the onslaught of day
when I had to rise to know
that the children were all in bed last night
dreaming their dreams or fleeing nightmares
where flailing they fall from precipices
and you were no longer there to catch them
nor were they there to fall in your arms.

Even the sunrise assails me.
I beg for sunsets now and nights to hide me
from the rush of day when finally I ache to see
them home and you beside me asking
how I made it through my day.

When will you come to take me home?
The flannels have shrunk and, threadbare,
They could no longer keep the intruding light away.

*All alone, always
An Excerpt from a speech I addressed to some senior citizens in our City of Mississauga: "Like the troubadour who has earned his meal at the table, I will sit down now, hoping someday I may again find myself among you, reading poems about today and some of my impressions of you and I growing yet older not only in aches and pains, but also, and more importantly in wisdom, love, and spirituality. "
Excerpt from a song: "You and I will travel far together/ Watch the evening star together.../ We may never get to heaven/ but it's heaven at least to try."
Excerpt from William Wordsworth's "Ode to Intimations of Immortality":"Whither is fled the visionary gleam/ where is it now, the glory and the dream?/ Though nothing can bring back the hour/ of splendour in the grass, / of glory in the flower, we will grieve not,/ rather find strength/ in what remains behind."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (02/03/2016) was prompted by a post on having faith that the first step of a ladder leads to another whether one sees them or not. Martin Luther King was quoted by Minnie Roiles in her Come Out and Shine post earlier.
Why must one believe? How can one believe? Why believe in Life, Love, and Letting Go? Why and when must one make his leap of faith, or not at all?


When the torch of desire burns clean
you would have learned all there is to learn:

To give, Datta. To feel and care, Dayadhvam.
To own and control, Damyata.Therefore,

To love beyond all loving because it is pure
like the mother suckles her infant. Give.

To know when caring will make things grow
like the raindrops nourish but will not sting.

To have and to hold even when that lashes
irreducible hurts to weary hearts that care.

It is for this that, naked, we halloo in the rain,
Let it come! Let all desires fill our dry vessels.

Then we wake to the warm caress of the Sun
for the day is always new, the flower lovely.

Is not the rose lovelier when its thorns sharpen?
Does not the potter’s knife need its razor edge

to pare the lips of the wine jar and smoothen
its mouth that lovers may drink to full desire?

Bare your body then to its wild abandon, salve
it with the cool spring water now welled

from the earth, and open your mouth to kiss
the sunlight, defy the anguish. Never say, not yet.

Let it come! Let the leaves fall on this Upanishad,
because the leap of faith is never to say Not yet.


My take of the answers I might give to those posed by Prof. Simon Blackburn in his The Big Questions, Philosophy, 2009, Quercus Publishing, Plc,, London, UK. Mr. Blackburn is a philosophy professor at Cambridge University in England.

Monday, February 1, 2016


MY  POEM FOR TODAY (02/01/2016). It is a poet's constant dread. The poem will be stillborn. So one plays for time. Wait for the surprise that creation is. One recalls the decapitated Orpheus nailed on the lyre, singing still. There must be a song arrested in his throat. The poet plays for time, a zeit schinden. Sometimes, the poem dies in the waiting.

ZEIT SCHINDEN (An Ars Poetica)

If playing for time is idleness regained,
a game of dunking Orpheus’ head
in a pot of boiling water would indeed
buy us the song screaming to drown
silences that are midwives to poems.
Did not the head nailed to the lyre
sing still of the beauty that was Greece?
What does it matter that limbs are shorn
from limbs in prurient violence?
A paean in darkened rooms is still pain
that seeks its balm in threnodies
muted now as dirges for the final quiver
of the song arrested in his throat,
a stillborn sigh that could have been
the dying gurgle of our descending
into a sandbox of absent games
and players gone and quietness fallen.


(Drawing by Matisse)

Sunday, January 31, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (01/31/2016):

(For all the old friends)

Why is growing old gracefully the measure
of what we look forward to when we write
each other these days? How old can we get?

Will our little rose gardens occupy our days
like we always did, lancing out thorns from
their trembling hands as they grew away?

Why can’t we have them snivelling around
instead of listening to our mumbled curses
as the thorny branches whip our wrinkles?

Where is the grace in pining at sundowns
for those shadowy remembrances when lads
were boys and lasses were screaming girls?

When will those album pictures, grown faint
now on brittle pages, jump out of the plastic
binders racing to kiss our hands at angelus?

Where, what sunlit places, would I see them
frolicking free from fears, writing love notes
on some clean sand before tides take them?

Who will bring that cold glass of lemon tea
while we rock our tired backs on chairs
perched on porches made for these sunsets?

What grace, what balm is left, growing old
and feeling gray, shall be our final measure
for how gracefully we have received the end

of days, of answers to whispered questions
of why, when, where, and how have hearts
turned cold in old houses no longer home.



MY POEM TODAY (01/30/2016) was prompted by a line from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran about pain being the beginning of understanding. Is it the prize of having to wait till we get back to our final home? Where might this be? We lived briefly in a home we could not have. When we got it built, we had to leave. The pain is knowing we got a raw deal, or knowing that, we will know why and understand. Time to stop then. Time to Sum up Accept that pain is one's gain --- it can only... lead us back... to a happy place we have lost but will regain. @ (Andre Gide's idea of a happier life when one if ready to die, and a remembrance of "Wasteland' by T.S. Eliot)


"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. / And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief."-- Khalil Gibran, "The Prophet"

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.

Because we have seen the clues,
because we have seen them all
already, I feel 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!

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.

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.

---Albert B. Casuga

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY (01/28/2016) WERE PROMPTED BY A QUOTE FROM DEEPAK CHOPRA posted in Minnie Roiles' Come Out and Shine.



"This returning to the root is called quietness."--- Lao Tzu

Memories are needs reshaped as still points,
if they could just be pinned down to stay
whole before falling like shattered mirrors
that recompose as harlequins of fluid faces
struggling to remould beyond the shadows
and the strange masks that fears and dread
now wear as they strut about as tall desires
we pray would remain longer than a mirage
of remembrances perishing like the carrion
of dreams and endless longings to be here.

There are no signs nor arrows on this path
that could retrace those gentle and happy
days when we owned the place where we
could not get lost even if we heroically tried.
We mean to rename these streets and mark
them indelibly so we could come home again.
But those still points are never there nor still
when we need them steadier than chameleons
that we are born with, where our zero point
is neither water, nor dirt, nor fire, nor air.


1. The Root
Waking up is excuse for one's return.
It is for these that leaving home
is an endless returning --
not for lost illusions
nor petty indecisions
do we return
nor for hurts our second coming,
but for grass untrod,
footsteps' echoes unheard,
where they have since then become
hollow laughter caught in domes
of running cups turned down
to celebrate our own absurd gestures
of trying to accept the virtue of dying
known to us only
because it is a manner
of returning to the root
and quietness our own
undiscovered country's

2. Wu Wei: O

A circle’s cipher shapes the sound of dreams;
it is the sound supplants what fury blood has built.
The House of Tao Te Ching makes shadows
of us all:
of our cracked voices a whimper
of regret,
of our guilt a pact
of weary visions
or indecisions to empty
our running cup
of schemes -- variations
on a theme streamed through a gloom
of circle’s ciphers.
There is no Design but the petering pattern
of wilt
on petals
or gore
on genitals.
Shadows in holes are circles.
The circle is a hole.
All things are vain given time
to mute the pain of dreams.
Time is allied with the Worm
sundering the form of murk and silt.


Saturday, January 23, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (O1/23/2016) was prompted by a post on a Harvard Neurosurgeon coming out of a "brain-dead" coma (after he succumbed to bacterial meningitis) and he confirmed that there is an "afterlife" (via SPIRITSCIENCEANDMETAPHYSICS.COM by Steven Bancarz as shared by Philippine Poet and Court Magistrate Simeon Dumdum Jr.)

 @What, indeed, do we know about eternity? Has anyone come back from the other side to tell us what we have known by faith or what we can hope to know before we kick the bucket?


Has anyone come back from this defiled form
and mapped out ways to get back to that eternity
we claim as heirs to, where days are as chartless
as the river stream that must flow to an endless,
ceaseless fountainhead which has no beginning?

There is no other way back except by destruction.
When every rampart has been carted away, we
do not pine for them like those we cannot lose
because we store them in vaults of our memory:
they are our milestones of an afterlife we choose
to build from achieved desires, fulfilled dreams--
these chambers of a heart that will not crumble.

What, indeed, do we know of eternity? Save this:
We are never away from it. Until memory fades.


Friday, January 22, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (January 22, 2016) is one about coming home when it is no longer what it was meant when time and memories allowed it. "I have come home, but I cannot stay./ My room is now full. And empty."


It is the room we dread to open
when we go back home because
we have to. You can bunk in here,
nothing has changed, you sleep
well in familiar places, don’t you?

Except that this room is too full
of everything I might have been
running away from: you will be
back for the summer holidays,
won’t you? Mom would like that.

I did not catch the train back,
nor did I try that summer when
father said he was ill: come home
as quickly as classes end, your
father would like that. Come home.

It has been some time since I last
dusted off the cobwebs and dirt
from the sill and the pictures
in this room. I stare at them longer
now praying they would talk back:

You’ve come home at last. Stay,
stay longer, we would like that.
There’s catfish to hook at the river
a stone’s throw from home. There’s
black berries to gather for wine.

They stare back at my wan face
from the confines of the ornate frame
and the bursting memories in sepia:
Father in white gabardine suit,
Mother in her white traje de boda.

I have come home, but I cannot stay.
This room is now full.
And empty.

--- Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by poet Rita Gadi's poem on the displaced Lumads. They have been as quite as the venerable mountains in the valleys they called home. Wounded, they must now go back the same mountains with their kris (swords) unsheathed. These, too, are as old as these mountains. (This was earlier included in an anthology of poems protesting the displacement of the Lumads edited by Philippine Graphic editor Joel Pablo Salud)


(For the Displaced Lumads)

Listen to them whimper with the wind:
“We were here even before the hunters,
Scorched dry even before the rivers
Have caked into mud, molted into mire.
We will be here till time decrees our end.”

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de los ladrones;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas."

Not all the lust for life, gold and its lustre
In this pretend paradise-regained matter.
They were there even before hoary time
Stood still currying to man’s sad fantasies
Of earning back his purloined happiness.

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de las malditas;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas." *

Arid now, the mountain bent at its knees
Will turn to desert yet, and its hunger
Will be fed by sand clusters ripped by wind
That has brought fire burning their homes
long nurtured by mute mountain valleys.

* "We were here before the gold
In those houses of the evil ones;
Of course, as a matter of principle
And shame, we go to the mountains;
Why not? They have become venerable.”

"So have our unsheathed kris. They are as old."


Monday, January 18, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY are poems of the tired explorer. Is it time yet? How healthy is it to hold on? Hold back? When is it a good time to go?


1. The Pasture

Olden days as a pasture---an expanse
of growth and green alive to laughter
and song---that’s where I am going.
Where windswept bramble rustles
with grass, you will find me there.
I can’t be rushed to skip off beyond.
I have time to paint a collage of faces
I have known in the deep mosaic
of a past now graffitied on these walls.

2. Hoarded Memories

Isn’t this why we hoard our memories?
We carry them like playing marbles
in pockets over our hearts, an easy draw
when the game is called, a quick toss
into holes dug on dirt we crawl on like
the kids we were, rolling them to dusk.
Olden days are there to sieve through
to find markers along obscured paths
once brightly lit now lost or darkened.

3. Will Keep in my Knapsack

A smile after a first kiss would help me
remember there are caresses there
as indelible, as urgent, as when first
given or surrendered by the one lover
whose courage saw me through times
when absconding was an easy way out.
A rollicking hug from the boisterous
son, a lonely issue, my only boy, recalls
a hesitant embrace for my dying father
who whispered from his rocking chair
my schoolboy snivelling was poor form,
he needed a man’s goodbye. Goodbye.

4. I Do Not Want To Go

The litter of olden days strewn like dry
leaves along my walk home holds me
back, awake again: I do not want to go.

5. Show me the Way to Go Home

What is it about gloom and an overcast sky
that calls back from buried remembrances
shadows of a discarded past folded like linen
tacked neatly into closets, camphorated, and
forgotten in dark attics until the next funeral?
Small consolation that these leaves transform
into a bravura of rainbow colours before fall
claims them from their trembling branches.

Blown off with the winds to places unknown,
would anyone recall how they sheltered birds,
worms, held nests in the fork of twigs, even
wayward kites? A fanfare of cricket songs,
however cacophonic, forms part of a memory
when even the bark of a whimpering mongrel
or the monotone of a midnight owl remind
us of walks in the dark trying to get home on a
drunken tune whistled and yelled to the moon:

“I got a little drink, it went to my head. Show
me the way to go home!” I did not get there.
I won’t go yet, I still have time. Time is still.



MY POEM TODAY was prompted by Author/Editor Elmer A. Ordonez's post "Red Poppies on the Road" (see earlier shared post below), who wrote this post last year, remembering his Elenita in their sylvan refuge. (This was published in the Sunday Times Magazine, January 17, 2016)


(For Elmer A. Ordonez and his Elenita+)

“…Wither is fled the visionary gleam?/ Where is it now, the glory and the dream?/ Though nothing can bring back the hour/ of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,/ we will grieve not, rather find/ strength in what remains behind.” William Wordsworth, Ode to Intimations of Immortality.

Here you are asking if something is left behind
from those days and nights of heat and splendor.
The nest under the springhouse eave, the errands
to bring the birdling feed to gaping hungry beaks,
is this all that remains? What will bring back glory
to this arid field of clay? But it has never left you,
not when you still cup your ears to the murmur
of ebbtide, the trill of children running after kites
blown wayward in the hills, or feel the quick flush
on your face when you recall the warmth of nights
we lay on our backs counting our canopy of stars
knowing we could not but dared to recount them
from inconstant starts and lost our count anyway.
But that was once upon a time. It won’t come back.


Friday, January 15, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (January 14, 2006) was prompted by an Aeon Ideas Post on how "It seems paradoxical that sad songs can make people feel good and dissonant music can be pleasurable, but new studies have revealed why. (See earlier post below). This poem is a father's lament that while he will not see his son again, he has powerful remembrances of him that will never go away.


I want to gather the fragments of shadow /they’ve left on the green, the sad, sweet/ imperm...anence of their flickering. ---From “Marks” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa

On some mountain terraces I had whiled sunsets
away at when young, gleaners stretch their brown
backs at the end of their day’s toil and burst into song:

"I must gather them while green, must gather them.
I must gather them while ripening, must ripen them.
I must gather them on my back before sundown."

Shadows grow tall on the red rocks on my trek home
to join the roister of the hunt, to boil camotes in vats
and cauldrons of goatmeat for the day’s harvest feast.

That night I asked Mag-siya to be mother of my sons,
a long streak of light roamed the skies like a cowlick
on a boy’s forehead, and the night stars swallowed it.

Hayley’s comet was the augur for the war that ripped
through the huts and burnt stilted houses on the terraces
and dashed the dense dreams of delivering baskets

of fruit and rootcrop to my woman on the river washing
stains on the blanket that wrapped our newborn son,
he with the cowlick on his forehead and the howl

of a hunter whose eye for the coypu rushing through
the terrace falls would have been unrivalled in the valley,
would have been the mark of all that was alive and loved.

O, how these shadows torture me now at sundown
when I hold on to trees, leaves, flowers, or roots to trace
that cowlick that burns bright still on my gnarled palms

and echoes still like a hunter’s hallo for the wild boars
culled for the harvest feasts. The shadows are long
in the valley. I have only my unsung songs of that mark.


Thursday, January 14, 2016


MY POEM (For January 13) WAS PROMPTED ABOUT A POST ON "CONSCIOUSNESS" as the brain describing itself to itself. Can we know what we really claim to "know: or is it just a construct (however inchoate or incomplete) in our brain to explain what we sense or even perceive? Science still has a lot to explain before it claims to have arrived at the invention "artificial intelligence." Or are we simply using a portion of the "force" we have primordially? May the force be with you. I...s that it?


Words in their primary or immediate signification stand for nothing, but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them. ---John Locke

Are you talking to me? Are you writing to me?
Answers to questions you pitch into the dark
are meanings I assign to the questions you ask.

Always, you and I, will be at opposite ends
of a half-lit hallway where echoes are as urgent
as the tremulous confessions we burden ourselves
with each time we look into our reflections
on the one-way mirrors we look into when hiding
hurts hurled like hunting knives at target trees.

When I call you, I mean to quickly hold you down,
to find your voice, to shape your feelings, to own
your thoughts, to mould you as I want to have you.

I interpret you through my own lenses and mirror
you as you would me and have our confluence
in this reflection, a dragging into a cold dungeon
of thought constructing meaning instead of finding
it, and the “You” becomes the “I” held in bondage.
Except that in this conquest, I lose everything.

Questions and answers become elusive phantoms
of meaning, configurations of troth to the other
turn into fantasy, dreams and desire but delusions.


*This poem was prompted by Simon Blackburn's "Can We Understand Each Other? Treating Words Carefully," The Big Questions: Philosophy, Quercus Publishing, London, UK, 2009

Monday, January 11, 2016


MY TWO POEMS TODAY: Remembering My Mother, NENITA BUENAVENTURA CASUGA on her birthday anniversary, January 11, 2016. She would have been 93. I miss her. (Father and Mother rest now beside each other in graves atop a hill overlooking San Fernando Bay.)


(For Mother*)

But there is silence now at the phoebe’s nest–-/ the fledglings have flown–-Icarus-like must test/ their wings against the sinews of a summer wind. / Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning? ---From “Gone: A Weaning Song”, A. B. Casuga, 06-10-12

Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning?
It is a cool, bright, and clear but silent morning,
what should move have not, even the gentle breeze
ruffling foliage rampant now on the crowns of trees
seemed to have gone still like the stale pool of mud
that must have caked in the warm night and seized
around the trunk clinging, child-like, on Mother’s
knee wailing: Don’t go! Don’t leave me! Please stay?

But she could not; she has waited for this clear day
to take a trip she must have wished for among others,
all dreams gone stale then, but she must go and meet
Father somehow where he has waited along a street
where they were to see each other again on a cool day,
eager to wrap each other in arms that pleaded: Stay!

---Albert B. Casuga

*Nenita Buenaventura Casuga, b. January 11, 1923 , d. June 11, 2012)+ R.I.P.

(Remembering Mother)

"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form." ~ Rumi

Lo siento, mucho. I am sorry. Sympathies,
thoughts, and prayers.They are staple;
when the loss stings, these do salve pain.
But is sorrow eased somehow by these
when in the gloom, they are only able
to shape and reshape, as only niceties can,
into dread that they will not be there again
when mornings jolt the stricken and unable
into a stream of emptiness, a hollow niche
where totems people the blank memories
that must fill in the gaps like this candle
melts into a candelabra to hide what it can
about the abyss of oblivion, a gaping solace,
when the dead are interred in this dark place?


Sunday, January 10, 2016


MY POEM TODAY IS FOR MY littlest grandchild, Marie Clementine Casuga-Lalonde, who has learned how to ski in a mere year or two, she has been badgering her parents to go to the hills which she now loves. This poem was prompted by a video of her siblings and her going down the slopes. She did not even have a tether. She could stop at will. She is a MAHVELOUS DAHHLING.


(For Marie Clementine, My Wee Lass on the Ski Slopes)

Will you grow older than these lessons,
Mon chère? Will you gather pictures
Like dada-abuelo peppers and papers
His dusty study with his world’s magic?

Papa will no doubt pin this on his wall,
I wager all my left-over memories,
He will: it is this lesson of love and daring
That he will always remember, repeat:

“Go, chère, find your slope and subdue it,
Ride over all the covered snow lumps,
Leap over the stumps, swerve and stomp.
No dreads, brave girl, this glide is yours.”

Down there, in yet another world, prayer
Is passé; that comes only after a striving,
Not after the wind, but a hankering for power
You must dig out from your heart when sliding.

Down there, when you have grabbed your slope,
Eat the snow on the ground, it is your prayer.
Lick the pine cones on your way off the trail
They are your trophies. Each one, my prayer.

January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016




(For Father, Francisco F. Casuga+)


“Will courage Redeem stupidity?”
-- Nick Joaquin

There is a manner of returning to the root
explains the virtue of a hole,
its quietness the petering circle:
The canon of the cipher indicts us all.

And you, rocking yourself to an eddy,
drown the death wish: O that grief
on sons’ faces could tell you all.
“Will courage be visited upon my children?”

It is this cut whittles the tree down,
not of consumption but of fright
that bereaving is one’s splintering
of children’s bones. Death is our betrayal.

They are sons gaping as grandfathers die
shapes the gloom of the breaking circle.
They who knew the frenzy of the bloodcry
must never return to find sons become spittle.

1971 Manila, Philippines

(This poem was adjudged the Grand Prize Winner of the first Philippine National Parnasso Poetry Writing Contest (1971). A handsome trophy sculpted by noted Philippine sculptor Edwin Castrillo and a "princely" sum of a thousand pesos made me happy. Father must have returned the favour. But he was no longer around to applaud. I would not even have minded a slap on the nape.)


How much of those happy times
would you bring back, like waves
ebb but must always rush back?

It is the sea returns you intact
into my now empty days, windy days,
your laughter always a raw memory.

You threw me into those restless
waves, cried out a challenge: "Swim!
Kick hard, swing your arms! Swim!"

And I never stopped, not for hurts,
not for lost dreams, nor for losses.
You warned me never ever to cry.

11-03-11 Mississauga, Canada

*Culled from "Poesias Para Los Muertos" (11-01-11). I was not able to say goodbye to my Father when he passed away at the Bethany Hospital in San Fernando City, La Union Province, the Philippines. Just as well. He is still with me.


There is a scampering of grace in the dry woods
and a pulse upon some soliloquy:
it is the rain come as a smooth and forbidding lace
upon the cup of the dead and dying weather.
It is past the season of the grub.

The flirt of the monsoon upon the arid lap of Nara
is caked on the thick napes of children
dancing naked in the mire of the fields,
gaping to catch the fingers of the rain,
slithering like parched serpents guzzling raindrops
cupped in the hollow of gnarled father’s palms.

There will be no songs. The ritual is not of birth
but of death as summer dies in Nara
and with it every titter bursting from a child’s mouth.
The rain becomes a bloody plot.

June 2009. Mississauga, Canada


We re-buried Father’s remains on a hillock overlooking the sea.---A Letter from Home

Tanqui’s supreme conceit is its dread
Of withering grass in the month of the frogs
When rain, like fingers in the night, tread
The lesions gangrened on a hillock’s carrion,
Carcass of a season mourned
As the briefest of them all.

“The rain is on the hill, the dry pond
Is red with clay, the gods are back!
And so must I --- shadow of a past long gone ---
Weeping, running through these deserted streets,
Crouching now in mud pools of childhood fun
When songs were chanted as songs for the dance.
A dance for the grass! My limbs for the grass!
I must dance for Tanqui’s singéd grass!”

He dances hard, his body clean and gleaming,
But Tanqui’s rain is on the ashen hill.
Neither his dancing nor his lusty screaming
Will stop this dreaded withering.
Tanqui’s conceit is stranger still
When songs are sung not for her lads and lasses
But for this stranger who, dying, has come back
To dance for black grass, dance naked
For Tanqui’s withered pantheon grass.

Canada 2009


"Yet all the precedent is on my side:/I know that winter death has never tried/The earth but it has failed;.../It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak."
--- Robert Frost, The Onset

I would run down the slope and catch myself
a rolling ball of snow before it falls into the ravine,
but walking through the silently falling snow
at the trail is a choice for these creaking knees---
no more gossoon games defying gravity for me
or flying off the hillside edge into fluff below
among the stiffened bramble and wild apple tree.

There’s warmth in the silence of falling snow:
I feel his gentle hands on my nape, I hear him,
I ask him if he would drink a pint with me
if I had reached beer-guzzling age before
he’d make his final trek, before he’d leave,
but I hear his whistling for the wind instead
and tug at his wayward kite now puncturing
some sombre summer sky in San Fernando.

O, how I’d run down the barren slopes to catch
his fallen kite among the burnt logs of the kaingin,*
but these are flakes I find myself catching
and whipped out twigs that break the silence
of falling snow. O my father.

2013, Mississauga. Canada

* Clearings made by burning forests.
+In Memoriam (b. January 9. 1921 d. December 5, 1974)

Friday, January 8, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY ARE ABOUT BUILDING HOUSES --- TREEHOUSES. These were prompted by a KarmaTubeOrg. post on an artist who builds mini-houses for the homeless from salvaging recyclable house and machine parts piled on the weekly garbage around his city's curbs. He expresses his art in his building designs and loves actually building the mini-chalets.


(Voices... from Three Generations)

(For my Grandchildren)

Come summer, we will build
another treehouse on an oak
overlooking the creek, there
is more of you now to gather
remnants we can put together.
Nothing bigger, but higher,
maybe closer to the clouds,
nearer to the stars, away from
the giggling girls next door.
We will see less of the world.
Or more of it below: yelping
dogs lining up for the lift-leg
tree astride our river bank,
are easy slingshot targets off
stouter, steadier branches.
O, and there is soldier-boy
doing it with the wife round
the clock since he came back
wounded from Iraq, Libya,
and all on the eastern crack.
Shush, buddyboy, that’s not
what treehouses are for. What
are they for, gramps? To espy
on sparrows, robins, jays, owls
talk to each other on sundowns.

So, if we build it a bit higher,
we can also build a treehouse
for God, can we not, gramps?
Why ever for, laddie? He is
everywhere. But nowhere near?
Cool. A treehouse for God on
the river bend. Then, maybe,
just maybe, we can visit him
anytime, gramps, ask for help
for starving kids in Somalia.
Hook him up on a telephone
line, strings and cans and all,
and maybe Dad can provide
Him with a Bell Internet link,
alert Him on the Facebook!
So he can stop all killings and all,
and punish priests who molest
altar boys and girls, and...Whoa!
Whoa, boys, we are building a
treehouse, not His jailhouse.
Could we build one for God,
anyway, gramps? We got boards
and plywood and shingles and
nails, and...borrow mom’s cross,
to protect Him in His treehouse.