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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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


MY THREE POEMS ON FINDING MEANING IN MEANINGS. What is the meaning of life? These are poems as answers to the Big Questions. This post was prompted by Brain Pickings link on Leo Tolstoy's "Finding Meaning in a Meaningless World." It was likewise prompted by an Albert Camus post on the meaning of a life worth living as a moral obligation to find happiness. (See my Timeline on Brain Pickings a year ago below.) --- Painting of the suckling mother by UK artist par excellence Janet Weight Reed.


(For All Who Care to Find Meaning)

Missing the many splendored thing
is one way of looking at this search.
How really far out there do we need
to fly, or espy for the god particle we
seemed to have lost in the process?
Why look behind the stars or in them?
Did we not lose our angels coming off
the crib or the direst cranny for shelter?
They do not grow with us, nor guide us.
Absconding, they quietly creep away.
Courage and devilment open our eyes
to what stories we could live with or by,
or what places to board up or occupy.
Orphans at birth, we are alone at death.
What we mean here is what we make.
The womb is a meaning we cannot do
without: our final breath is a call:
Mother, hold me. Our first cry is a call:
Mother, love me. And then we grow old
shaping up all excess purposes and ends.
The tomb is yet another meaning we
scarcely begin to understand before it
pulls us to its urgent demand: living
to die trying to live while dying is easy
may yet be the meaning we struggle for.


Here's a poetic response to the Big Question: Why is There Something and Not Nothing? (The Strange Ways of Being)*

If another twig falls in the night,
as silently as it grew as a sapling
toward the sky, would that mean
anything anyway to anyone?
The graveyard of a fallen tree
may tell untold stories that stay
untold until a struggling stray root
breaks through dry rot and ground
for yet another flushed cherry tree.
The inexorable is also axiom here:
life begins in death in a spun gyre
twirling into flowers, forever moving.
Nothing is everything here, but there
where leaves had once fallen, broken
twigs spring back as fluttering birds
twittering on branches like new leaves.

*Simon Blackburn, The Big Questions: Philosophy, Quercus Publishing Plc, London, UK, 2009.

Giving up on giving up is a better choice,
when being sensible and clear are futile.
Words would lose meaning, ours will not.
Where you see a vine leading its tendrils
up to a broken branch shedding a last leaf,
you make me see its undulant plummet
to the parched pond mottled by blackened
and brittle leaves long dead even before
the end of this long hot summer. It is real.
Is this not our faultless way of knowing
what we pretend to know when we can
no longer see the dancer from the dance?
Would not the falling of that lonely leaf
trace the slower climb of a clinging vine?
Like seeing both sides of the wall at once.


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