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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, December 27, 2010


A HARVEST OF POEMS, 2010 (September to December)


(For Mikey)

Mikey bested his cousins in the game of balancing on the lily pads (mock pontoons) while crossing the pool without falling into the water before he gets to the last pontoon. This ancient mariner, bedazzled by his grandchildren’s confidence and derring-do, failed to even get past the first pontoon despite their egging him on: Come on, ‘lolo! You can do it! Just do it! --- Writer's Notebook on a Family Break at Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara

He leap-frogged lithely
with tentative grace
from one drifting lily pad
to the other, an uncertain smile
creased on his elfin face:
quite like relishing
the exquisite danger
of leaping from one life
moment to another
shorn of anxiety or fear
a fall could end it all.

Would the pontoons hold
while he teeters on them
grasping for absent branches?

His final leap was also
this old heart’s leap of faith
that this lad’s leap-frogging
will end in a crash of pool
where ripples are his balm
and sinking is his baptism
of fire in a game called living
where bridges crumble
with the tottering pontoons.

Mississauga, September 15, 2010

Why do we exist? Why is there something rather than nothing?
--- The question of the ages.

Someone, something, put one over the graffiti Pollocks today:
there’s paint all over the cobbled boulevard, a chiaroscuro
of foliage, a mayhem of hue cutting through dreary treetops,
an assault on the bleakness of a clean well-lighted street,
a rampage of glee gone berserk on a roiled canvas of forest
awash with windswept strokes running riot along walls
of maples and birches and whimpering willows, a cul de sac’s
Sistine vault, Klee’s templegarten, Monet’s pond. Aieee.

This fullness of surprise is still our constant wonderment:
what does this arboreal splendour, this arbour’s magic,
change sylvan verdance for? Why the circus of colours
before autumn’s chill crinkles leaves to brittle brown, black,
or even nothing? What temples rise from the deluge of shades,
what language of grandeur echoes in these ancient retreats?
Or what language of absence befuddles before this death
that crumples something to nothing? This fall, we ask again:
Why is there something rather than nothing?

Something, someone, did one over the city’s graffiti lads today:
someone has painted the rainbow on small palms of leaves.

Mississauga, September 21, 2010

Nobel Laureate and Physicist Stephen Hawking, an emeritus professor visiting Canada's University of Waterloo, came out recently with an obiter dictum that God was not necessary to create the universe. The Pope, speaking to a group of religious leaders in England during his state visit, stepped into the debate and conceded that the human and natural sciences "provide us with an invaluable understanding of aspects of our existence...but the disciplines cannot satisfy the fundamental question about why we exist...nor indeed can they provide us with an exhaustive answer to the question 'Why is there something rather than nothing.' "

The question became the ligne donee of the poem "Autumn's Question" which this writer wrote to welcome the fall with. All the colours of autumn become the central image of the poem that revels in the graffiti-like riot of hues. Is this nature's graffiti? Who is going around painting the arbours with the colours of the rainbow? Why the bravura before the leaves fall and die?

Why is there something rather than nothing? And why must there be nothing before something?



(For Jason Montana)

What temples rise from the deluge of shades,/ what language of grandeur echo in these ancient retreats?/ Or what language of absence befuddles before this death/ that crumples something to nothing?/ Why is there something rather than nothing?
--- From Autumn's Question

Cold and rough hewn pews align the red clay floor
where rifles had lain at stock and inert most dawns
when bloodcurdling screams of combat gave way
to hard-earned slumber and crackle of campfire
in tempo with the rhythm of breath heard where life
might still have lingered among the beds carved
from crevices where crag flowers have bloomed
before nightmares came with the fall of sparrows:
this night’s sleep would be tomorrow’s horror.

But daybreak brought instead a temple’s prayer:
Upon this cave, our people will build their church.

Mississauga, September 25, 2010

*Somewhere in the Sierras of Cagayan Valley, Penablanca, Cagayan, Northern Philippines

Why an "unfinished poem"? There is a "cathedral" of images left unlimned in the caverns of this place of worship. Borrowing from the practice of "ekphrasis", this composition links the image to "echoes" beyond the picture. These may proceed from the picture's history or from the poet's extension of the images that could exude from the image that vibrates with layers of mnemonic associations.

This blog invites poets to finish the poem's narrative with related images to create a "harder" gestalt, a poetic plenitude, as it were. Feel free to send in collateral tropes or other poems "induced" from the pregnant picture.

A blog (Poet's Picturebox) maintained by Filipino poet Marnie Kilates solicits this type of poetry from pictures. While it is an inverse version of poems that create pictures from words, "ekphrasis" is an old technique of using an existing visual image as the ligne donne (given line) or springboard of poetic creation. It has always been a resourceful tool for poets, particularly Oriental.



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 A Theory of Echoes (Selected Poems)

Blow a kiss to your window-waving
Girl, say au revoir for now, and pray
That as they grow, won’t stop loving,
And they do grow and they 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.

The stool stood sentry to a darkened room where
she said she would wait if it took forever, and it did.
The stool will outlast the stonewalls, rotting doors,
loosened bricks, dust, and bramble. It will be there.


....who would fardels bear, / To grunt and sweat under a weary life, / But that the dread of something after death, / The undiscovered country from whose bourn/ No traveller returns, puzzles the will/ And makes us rather bear those ills we have/ Than fly to others that we know not of? --- Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare


Flowers for the dead
Rot: the garbage man collects
Dumpster mementos.

Thus, songs for the dead
Become evening echoes drowned
In trash bin clangour.

Remembrances die
With spent candles snuffed
Over silent tombstones.

Flores para los muertos
Are dead flowers in the wind
Though wild winds tow them.

We are fallen twigs
That will not be back on trees
Though wild winds lift us.

Mississauga, October 31, 2010



All accidents save for Acts of God shall be deemed covered by this insurance policy. ---- Insurance coverage provision.

I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where shall come my help? / Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. --- Church hymn based on Ps. 121

Mario Gomez, 63, delivered on his promise:
“Querida mia, donde esta mi beso? Donde esta mi amor?”
Her lips quivering, she flirted on the inserted camera
Snaking through the pit, a cavern of refuge now,
A mansion no less for the indentured thirty-three,
“Ven aqui, Mario mio, si quieres beso, abrazo, y mas!
Ven aca! Venga, venga, viejo. Te quiero! Te quiero!”
Sobs arrested in her throat betrayed her when she bade
Him to stay puissant; she needs her virile man strong.

Those daily papelitos between lovers saw them
Renewing their nuptial vows: When you come out,
Not if you come out, we will get married once again
At the Iglesia on the hill, and offer our four children,
Our shrivelled skins, our shack, our mortgages, our debts,
Our dwindling years in grateful celebration to El Señor,
Y todos los santos, Who is our help, our true salvation.

Daybreak brought to its amazing plenitude the skills,
The survival tacks, the fattening of starved psyche,
The miracles of man and his science:

They’re out! Lazarus manqué!

They’ve surfaced the heroic thirty three! Sterling silver
Not unlike those Judas ransom, they ascended one
By quivering one, all clutching rusty crucifixes in praise
Of a God who was not in the sealed cavern even as they
Prayed: Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven
And the temblors of this earth.

What does it matter that Seguridad de Oro considers
This entombment non-coverable by mining insurance
Because it was an Act of God? After all, the caving in
Was in great pursuit of gold and silver, metals to shore up
The sinkholes of cities calcified in the manners of greed
That will not serve His greater glory, wherever He has gone
In the caverns of this empty, now liberated cave.
Mario Gomez will have his kiss, hugs, and more.

Mississauga, October 18, 2010


Autumn ---/ even the birds/ and clouds look old.
--- Basho

Autumn leaves leave twigs
When wild fall winds shear branches
Of their brittle foliage.

Twigs cast thin shadows---
Like trembling fingers, clutch air
For their treetop tuck.

They cannot hold on---
Twigs must break away like sons
Preening as oak trees.

Twigs cracked by wild wind
Fall pell-mell on bristly grass,
Burn as quickly too

When fierce sunrays turn
Valleys to tittering flame:
A covenant with spring.

When twigs break away,
Shorn saplings do not take them
Back as prodigal branches

Like shadows swallowed
By sunsets gone past mountains
Lost to murky nights.

O, we are fallen twigs
And will not be back this way again
Though wild winds lift us.

Mississauga, October 12, 2010


(For Julian Ashley+, October 2, 1984-January 30, 1885)

It is the Sea eats limb so life (so love)/ may not to its eternal wanting finish/ what it late started must soon deny:/ a clown’s journey through a circle’s shadow. . .

Another fishing season would have gone
by sundown, but I have stopped counting
and stopped fishing, too; think of all the bass
that got away and the crayfish dried brittle
on rocks laved clean of seaweed and brine,
ebb tide marking rhythm and time when
breaking waves drown the homeward hallos
of fishermen pulling empty nets and ruined
mesh dragged off by catamarans whose relics
now jag brackish breakwater rocks when
low tide retrieves stray shells wrapped in flotsam.

It is my hammock hour. Come swing yourself
on this final refuge. Don’t take too long, hijo.
We have groupers to grill, oysters to chuck!

Echoes of your shrill shrieks and laughter startle
me still when I cock my ear to catch them
filling rooms and spaces that I would have shared
with you if you had only given me the chance
to teach you how to fish. But you left without
saying goodbye. At sundown, though,
on my hammock hour, I still hum your lullaby.

October 2, 2010, Mississauga

On October 2, Julian Ashley Casuga-Dela Rosa, my first grandchild, would have been 26, but he succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome four months after his birth.

I wrote an earlier poem marking his passing, "For the Grandson Who Did Not Choose to Stay", which I reprint together with the new poem above in his durable memory. O, how we could have gone away fishing, had he stayed longer. Con amor duradero, hijo mio.


Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta, Poet (1932 – 2010+)


...I regret to inform you that our dear Ophie Dimalanta passed away shortly before dinnertime in her Navotas home due to hypertension-related illness....she got out of the house, returned promptly because she was not feeling well. She died in her sleep. --- Nov. 4, 2010 E-mail from Wendell Capili, poet and University of the Philippines professor:

To die, to sleep; / To sleep? Perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,/ For in that sleep of death what dreams may come/ When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, /Must give us pause.--- Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, William Shakespeare

The dreams must include a salon of jesters
Belting throaty ululations announcing her coming
To the party of outpouring angst and crippling blocks.

Are you all poets here? Yarn spinners maybe? Ah,
Sparrows wounded in flight bogged down by fear
Of rejection slips and rancid rancorous reviews!

She will touch them ever so lightly, giggling a little,
Having been there, flying, dying, having done that,
All figures waylaid on her poems’ wake bleeding.

Why write at all when raucously rabid living
Is raunchy enough for the sad and unfulfilled
Who find themselves eunuched by etudes and song?

The salon erupts into muffled moans and laughter,
Crowning its homecoming poet and doyenne,
Proclaiming life and love will trump poetry this time.

Are you all poets here? What rhymes tie you down
When verse and breath and beat must go on flowing,
Or perish with them entangled in death and dying?

A gaping satyr perched on a rock, waits and wails:
Monarch of dreams, lover of lust and life, Ophelia,
You have come home where poems have no dominion.

Mississauga, Nov. 4, 2010



Scampering rodents cast long shadows
On snow fallen from shorn branches.
Night falls quickly and twigs dragged into
Crevices cut eerie lines on the ground
That will not be there in the morning ---

Quite like absconding lovers brushing
Off dirt from their backs before walking
Off to shelters unknown after sundown
Trysts cut short by the solstice chill.
Scampering, they lose their shadows.

Mississauga, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Scampering rodents cast long shadows
On the snow fallen from shorn branches.
Night falls quickly and twigs dragged into
Crevices cut eerie lines on the ground
That will not be there in the morning ---

Quite like absconding lovers brushing
Off dirt from their backs before walking
Off to shelters unknown after sundown
Trysts cut short by the solstice chill.
Scampering, they lose their shadows.

--- Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Emmanuel, 2010: A Celebration

Celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are happy and grateful to reprint here a poem written by Rev. Francisco R. Albano, and two documents he sent us to highlight the significance of this Christian holy day. We join our clan pastor, friend, and brother in greeting everyone a Happy Christmas.


May the Word-Made-Flesh, Light and Life of the world be yours and mine -- that we may be his Flesh become his word of justice, love and peace. That we may bring light and life to dark times and places of heart, mind and spirit. That we may enable people to care for one another and for the earth. That in all things God may be glorified.


The way it was:
A newborn baby’s cry broke silence of one night.
The cow mooed, the donkey brayed,
A chicken cluck-clucked and laid an egg.
Carpenter Joseph uttered: “It’s a boy!”
“Of course it is, silly,” Mama Mary said.
The swaddled one took to her breast,
And the heavens burst into De Angelis
Gloria in excelsis Deo, peace on earth!
The rest is history of slow but sure recognition
And firm affirmation of presence of Word-
Made-Flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us,
Of a separate peace in violent Pax Romana,
Of space-time reordered in redeemed relations
As planned for a new heaven, a new earth.
You see it too. Let’s from the stable go
Into land-time of armed Pax Capitalista
And defensive emerging Pax Socialista
And sing his story.

-- Francisco R. Albano

The Bishop of Ilagan (in the Northern Philippines, province of Isabela) --- where Rev. Albano serves as Rector of the Catholic Seminary --- delivered the following Message for the Season of Christmas. May the meaning of this holy day be reinforced in the hearts of all believers.


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The Lord give you peace.

We, Catholics, sanctify our day with a short theological reminder of the history of salvation. We call it the Angelus Prayer which, traditionally, we used to recite at morning, noon, and evening. And it is drawn from the affirmation of John: “The Word became a human being, and full of grace and truth, lived among us.” (Jn 1:14). In other versions of the translation, the phrase reads “the Word became man.”

The Latin phrase “et Verbum caro factum est” translates the Greek original of the Gospel of John: “Kai ho Logos sarx egeneto.” That is an astounding use of terminology. The use of the Greek word “sarx” to express the reality of the Incarnation is even more emphatic. Notice that the phrase does not say “The Word became a Jew.” Instead it says “the Word became man.” So then, there is something here that transcends culture or cultures.

The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity becoming a man in Jesus entered our human conditions of lostness, of sin, of negativity, and in all the dysfunctional conditions of human life. All that and more is contained in that one word “sarx.” And yet it also points to a direction towards which we all have to strive for, simply because all life is teleological. This is so only to ground ourselves in the reality that there is a tremendous challenge contained in this affirmation. The challenge is to transcend all these limitations and negativity and weakness and sin, and by the grace of God, work at grounding ourselves in the values that promote life instead of death.

I am not a scholar dedicated to the study of the Scriptures nor am I a professional theologian. But in this, I see here the end and the aim for which you and I, as human beings, are called to. We may discover that only when we strive to be “full of grace and truth” both individually and as a community can we really affirm the fact of “God with us.” This also means that Jesus, the Christ, becomes “incarnated” once more in man of whatever “race, tribe, nation, and language”, in short, from any culture of the world. The Incarnation, therefore, is a living parable that God in His wisdom uses to point out our vocation. And we are no longer discouraged by the obstacles that try to hamper our efforts at becoming truly a human being in the pattern of Jesus Himself.

Years ago, there was a book published with the tile “The Road Less Travelled.” And it opens its first chapter with a startling affirmation. It began “Life is hard.” And one may assume a position regarding life in time and space. We may either flee from it, keep fighting it, and simply flow with creatively. Jesus took the third option: to flow with life in creative fashion. He underwent all that you and I undergo: learning, struggling to discover one’s vocation, committing himself to what is good and just and honest, and being faithful until the end. He suffered, was misunderstood, was rejected, and finally, put to death as the sacrificial Lamb. And He endured all that trusting in His Father’s promise and confident that this trust will not be deceived. And, indeed, the Book of Revelation later affirms: “The Lamb who was killed is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and strength, honor, glory and praise.” (Rev. 5:12).

Our Pope Benedict XVI quotes the medieval theologian William of St. Thierry who said that God – from the time of Adam – saw that His grandeur provoked anxiety in man, that man felt limited [and insecure] in his own being and was threatened in his freedom. Therefore, God chose a new way. He becomes a child. He made Himself dependent and weak, in need of our love. Now this God who became a child says to us: ‘you can no longer fear Me, you can only love Me.”

May this truth be our guide during this Christmas Season. May it be a truly blessed occasion of grace for all of us. God bless you all.

+Joseph Nacua OFMCap., D.D.
Bishop of Ilagan
Given at the Chancery
16th of December, 2010
Launching of the CBCP Year of the Youth


( The Wall Street Journal first published this editorial in it’s Christmas issue in 1948. It has been republished every year since then. )

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too.

There was oppression – for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave larges to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners – to quite those whom the Emperor prescribed.

What was man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying: Render unto Caesar the things that are God’s.

And the voice from Galillee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in diverse places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness knoweth not wither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterwards Paul of Tarsus, too, was so afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the ‘lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets.

Then might it come to pass that men would not look upwards to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians the words he would have us remember afterwards in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ was made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. #

--- The Casuga Clan in Canada

December 25, 21010, Canada

Friday, December 17, 2010


Now and then, I get invited to deliver "while-you-guys-eat inspirational talks", and this one is the annual invitation from the Sampaguita Senior Citizens Club, a group of Filipino, Hispanic, Chinese, Caribbean, European retirees living in the "Living Waters Retirement Home", headed  by Filipino compatriot, Mrs. Efrena Chaves who is originally from Cagayan de Oro City in the Southern Philippines.

While I was board of education trustee for the Mississauga-Peel Region, I helped the seniors group obtain Federal funding for their projects that funded their activities for health, education, community relations, technological, recreational, cultural, and social amelioration. Losing the elections in 2006 after a three-term service, I still get invited to their parties. I have not been "speechifying" lately, but if "inspirational" is inspirational, I might as well include poetry to "regale" them with. The elderly, believe it or not, still appreciate the arts, even poetry.

It might as well be a "reading" night. After all, I have written some poems to "grow old by." I thought it would be a good idea to test them on the group who might appreciate the theme of "ageing" in style --- in solemnity, spirituality, and silence.

With "silence for our bed."


December 18, 4 p.m.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my friends:

When your President , Efrena Chaves, invited me to deliver an “inspirational talk” during your Christmas Party, I readily accepted, and became anxious to be with you for so many selfish reasons, not the least of which is to participate in eating some of these delicacies that we rarely see cooked for us exiles from all parts of the earth.

“Inspirational talk” from me? I came here not to inspire you, but rather to be inspired. At this point in my life, now that I am 68, I gather inspiration from the consoling fact that there are still active and happy people even older than I am. Shame on me for feeling hopeless.

For, at this stage, I am prone to feel inconsolable that the day “to kick the bucket” may come one day soon. But what snaps me out of this appears to be the excitement of being able to prepare my “bucket list” – a set of things I have yet to do before I grow any older. Among these is my aspiration to be able to publish another collection of poems.

I gather inspiration from the senior citizens I read about and even meet, and I write poems or stories about them. I have written some lately – for this is my preoccupation now that I am retired, hopefully not in my dotage. I write about us, so I could better appreciate my “ageing process” in the perspective of art, something I have always devoted my life to, whether as a professor of literature and creative writing or as a writer manqué.

I celebrate our elder state because it is a stage where our affinity with the chair, and of course, sitting, is more pronounced than ever. Believe me, our act of sitting silently and solemnly in the shadows of our darkened rooms is still one of the best exemplars of how we prepare our lives to arrive at a final spiritual stage where our “Upanishad” --- a Hindu word from the Veda meaning “sitting near” – is really a preparation or a waiting, if you please, for our physical state to transform into a more spiritual state as “virginal” vessels to receive our final forms on this earth before we reclaim our paradise lost sitting near the Master’s feet.

For isn’t “retirement” the process of putting on new tires – not the earthly ones appended to our infernal oil and gas guzzlers (they get more expensive everyday) -- but the “re-tirement” of our chariots with winged wheels to take us to a paradise regained?

I submit that what you do now as a group reflects your shaping up towards this goal. Your dances, your songs, your games, your karaoke nights, your bingos, your feasts – all these are among the happy and finer things of a civilized existence that remain as solid examples to our community of how elders prepare themselves for the transition towards a more spiritual level of existence.

This is an inspiration to me. I thank you for providing me with this opportunity to be happy with you in the spirit of celebrating, as well, the birthday of a Teacher who gave of himself that we might find it easier to go back to our first and final world – our spiritual paradise with our God, whatever you and I might conceive Him to be.

In grateful recompense, allow me to regale you with some of my work that you may appreciate how I value the inspiration of our fellow seniors in some of these poems I have collected under the group of Poems to Grow Old By.

Because we are gathered to express Love and honour for the Emmanuel, here’s a love poem.

There is nothing but trees for miles from where Allen and Margaret Berrington’s silver Chrysler Sebring was found on Wednesday afternoon. . . .A pair of dirtbikers found the Sebring, out of gas, and Margaret, 91, deceased, three kilometres down the road. . . .Mounties later found the body of Allen, 90, nearby, concealed by a small embankment. How they got there, and why, is a mystery. - - - Kevin Libin, National Post, Friday, June 4, 2010

Something about the spring sun slicing through
Shadows of maple and birches cuddling the road,
Their branches creaking like stretched backs do
When pulled erect from a burden of stoop, load
Of the years fallen off as derelict leaves gone
With the lashing wind, roiled into an uproar
Of rain and foliage --- something about the sun
Caught in her ruddy blush and now gossamer hair
Has sprung a sprightly pull on his flaccid arms
And he was going to enfold her again, trolling
Their road song again: O leggy Peggy in my arms,
O lovely Peggy in my arms! And hear her trilling
Again: Al of my dreams, I love you, honest I do;
Oh, what can I do, I love you so. I love you so.
But something about the spring sun on their faces
Was all he could recall, the sky, and empty spaces.

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 A Theory of Echoes (Selected Poems)


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 they grow, 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 and Louie 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

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.

My family and I wish you a Happy Christmas.