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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

THE APOTHECARY (A Prompted Poem)


Abuela, she of the magic tales and prayer,
prescribed bowls of garlic for all ailment and sundry:
reason enough for her to till a large plot of this clove,

seasoning not only the day’s repast but also
our old home where---without that distinct scent---
no one would truly be home. O, grandmother,

in your eternal garden where your enchanted
hammock must dangle between the tallest oaktrees,
send this ill Earth some crescent cloves, crush them,

and gently wrap them around the hearts of men
who have, like Cain, cavalierly killed their brothers,
fathers their daughters, mothers their sons and lovers.

Mamita, in our yard, three stalks of garlic have kept
their heads above the snow in what is now a long
and cruel winter. In garlic we trust, abuela querida.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont. 02-27-11

The prompt for this poem is "found" in the following images:

Three stalks of garlic in the yard have kept their heads throughout this long winter, seasoning the snows. The distant fluting of geese. ---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-27-11 (

Sunday, February 27, 2011



(For the Fallen Freedom Fighters of People Power in Manila, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Iraq and elsewhere.)

Even these gray skies are not spared
the mayhem plotted by the mighty:
somewhere among the prickly branches
dangles the mangled carrion of a junco
who must have tried to fly higher
than it should and caught the eye
of the sharp-shinned hawk now wiping
its after-breakfast beak atop the bald
maple tree as a gray breast feather
floats down and lands on snow.

Icarus will not --cannot--fly to the sun.

There will be hordes of sparrows
perched sentry-like on those branches
before their trembling twigs break
into a camouflage of leaves and flowers.
That gnarled maple will loom gray with
twittering kins of that quartered prey
and there will be a cacophony of calls
before perching sundown songs are sung.
Not quite a reveille at sunrise, a screech
of a battlecry echoes in the wakened hills:

Icarus, Icarus, do not fly to the sun!

The predator has arrived for the hunt:
glides into the maple top rather regally
while the sparrows swarm for the kill
before the sharp-shinned hawk alights.
A stained black breast feather floats
amid the strangest banshee of triumph.

Icarus rises, screams, then plummets.

Mississauga, 02-27-11

This poem was “found” from the following images, and developed quickly from the first section into the last two sections.

Gray sky. A gray breast feather floats down and lands on the snow. Ten minutes later, a sharp-shinned hawk appears in the big maple.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-26-11

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A CRAWLSPACE IN EDEN (A Found Poem Series)


Thumping under a crawlspace,
the poor furtive resident woodchuck
has joined the ranks of human lovers,
and got itself a cranny while in heat:

What is revolting about the freedom
to swing on the branches of maple
when even jays and robins find it easy
and O so quickly practical in flight?

Has the figleaf myth finally befuddled
this spritely unshackled Abelard to hide
an urgent function to please his Heloise
in a cramp and cobwebbed crawlspace?

In the orchard sprawl of a forbidden
garden, once upon a lonely time, a man
begged for a woman and gave his rib
that it may grow into loins and haunches

and He said that she looked good like
the sun and the stars and the appletree
whose ripened fruit they may not share
or lose the blindness of celibate bliss.

What does it matter that a nook is dark
or dank or deep? Is this not a paradise
regained? How so, when the wildness
of wind and throbs of sea and waves are

bartered for the silky warmth of sheets
in antiseptic rooms, and lose in turn
the East of Eden, where love is free
and unafraid and brighter than a crawlspace?

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, 02-25-11

The poem was "found" among these images:
A thumping in the crawlspace under the house and muddy footprints in the snow: the resident woodchuck is in heat. Rain drums on the roof.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-25-11 (


I posted "A Crawspace in Eden" in Dave Bonta's The Morning Porch at 10:16 p.m.. and before midnight, at 11:48 p.m, poet Luisa Igloria, recovering from a day surgery, files a take-off from my "found poem". It is a feat worth its devoted act of courage (for poetry, for poetry, all for poetry!), and I am proud to repost this rejoinder from the Norfolk, Virignia Fil-Am poet and Old Dominion University academic:

Luisa Igloria says: (Posted 11:48 p.m.)

In the Eden that was less
is more, a fig leaf was like
Thoreau’s lake– earth’s eye,
in which the beholder measured
the depth of his own nature:
small tendril, wisp curling back
toward the safety of the thigh
even as the tree, the world,
its littlest creatures begged
to be numbered and named.

---Luisa Igloria

Albert B. Casuga says: (A rejoinder to the rejoinder posted 02-26-11, after brunch)

A philosopher-poet’s viewpoint, indeed! “A fig leaf was earth’s eye, in which the beholder measured the depth of his own nature.”

Nature being what biology mandates, it is the “fig leaf” that serves as a “caveat” to the coy—”noli me tangere” (touch me not) unless you mean it, for from this act the Trinity’s sublime “e pluribus Unum” (from the many One) turns love to LOVE. That should be free and unafraid.

What we have is the “tree”, pruned, but still a refuge for even the “littlest creatures that seek to be numbered”. From the depths of this nature, man can ascend toward his “summum bonum” (his highest good): God Who is Love (the last time I looked out of my crawlspace).


Luisa and I might have dominated the poetic action in the cyberspace-generous Dave Bonta's (sketch inset) The Morning Porch ( and blog, Via Negativa (, but the Pennsylvnia poet Bonta is rather doting. I suspect, he will heroically save poetry from the deathbed yet.

To Luisa Igloria and Dave Bonta: Bravo!

Friday, February 25, 2011

THE ROAD TAKEN (Found Poem Series)


There were no other roads to the potato patch
tilled by my abuela, feeding the whole cowering clan
while they hid in caverns cut through mountain
ridges enveloping the barrios where I was born.

Mop-up kempetai* squads roamed the hills,
but we were safe even from infants’ hungry puling.
No divine intervention this, God was hiding, too.
And the road they took had dead grass and gravel.

On either side of the path, there were burnt trees.
Bombed out nipa huts, freshly dug graves,—
and from the depths of the valley engulfed by hills,
a crow’s shrill cry echoed to mock the marauders.

We did not even need these winters.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, 02-24-11

*Japanese occupation mercenaries rooting out Filipino guerrillas in their mountain sanctuaries. Ruthless, they did not take prisoners; they only left corpses on roadsides used as as their killing fields.

The poem was "found" from these images.
Winter on this side, winter on the other side, and in between the road’s dead grass and gravel. One crow cries, high and shrill.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-24-11 (

Thursday, February 24, 2011



Backlit by the sun, a hoarfrosted forest
glitters with ice caught underneath.
But the glow ends where stubbs tear
through the sheets like toes sticking
out of pellmell blankets. Pity.

The sylvan frost could have been magical
like intertwined limbs insinuating joie du nuit
beneath those sleep-stained sheets.
But nothing remains crystal or pure as sunlight
cutting through gnarled and naked branches.

There will be long shadows on the pygmy tundra
while the winter solstice overstays its welcome.
There will be no glitter on the hoarfrosted forest
when icy undertow surfaces to drown the valley.
I would have left quietly like the absconding snow.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, 02-23-11

The poem was "found" among these images

Backlit by the sun, a hoarfrosted forest with ice still glittering underneath. I gape and run for my camera, a tourist on my own porch.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-23-11 (

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A LESSON (A Found Poem): Series


Plot a scenario where it could occur:
six inches of newly-fallen snow
is as good as a sunset on the bay.

Lie down on it, make snow angels,
steal a Facebook picture of her
stretched in mock-sultry splendour,

then tumble where she trashes
to make her angel’s wings, laugh,
let her scream her wildest trill

then plant an errant kiss. She will
push, you will pull. Do not cease
from childlike giggling. Roll over,

wrestle like the pair of squirrels
you pointed out to her under that
bare maple. If she struggles, wait.

Wait for her to lie still with her
weakened guffaw, lock her into
your arms to gather warmth.

“To keep you warm”, you protest.
She is ready, if you are.

But that was when you saw
the quondam pair of rodents
in frenzied coupling on a swinging
branch, and she let out a stifled
scream. The pair on the maple trunk
scampered, retreated to separate
limbs, paused, stared, and left
off where they were rudely
interrupted. First lesson learned.

The next lesson, therefore, should be
on separation.

Mississauga, 02-22-11

These are the images where I "found"the poem
Six inches of fresh powder. A pair of squirrels wrestle in it, then go up the big maple, couple on the trunk, and retreat to separate limbs.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-22-11

Photo by Dave Bonta, "Porcupine"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NOSTALGIA (A Found Poem)


Cackles of geese flying north break
the late morning sounds of creaking,
icecoated branches rocking in the wind.
Another storm gathers, and the winged
migrants leave for warmer spaces.

O, for sturdy wings, and a squadron
of kindred souls flying out of arctic regard!
Warmer times, warmer places, other
voices, other rooms: I long for those old
cellophane sounds of sheer curtains
brushing against the chimes lavish
with their tinkles until the wind dies down.

Odd, but with hurt urgency, I hear them.

— Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, 0-021-11

The poem was "found" in these images:
A fresh cement of wintry mix traversed by chipmunks, tails italic with urgency. Ice-coated branches rock in the wind—a cellophane sound. ---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-21-11(

Monday, February 21, 2011


A picture that talks
To blind minds and hardened hearts
Is painted by heart.

Words pour out of walls
where pictures hang and anoint
hard hearts and blind minds.

Drawing by Alfredo Roces, 1977
From Filipino Nudes

Sunday, February 20, 2011

TIRED (A Found Poem)


Off the porch, the broom
lies askew in the garden:
but for the flowers on it,
it could have been
a discarded truncheon.

Sunlight through twigs
casts obscure sketches
on the walkway where
its handle points out
like a broken arrow to
the stone dog standing
by the leaf-strewn porch.

Leaves would not be
swept off soon while
the sun’s whiskers
slowly disappear.
Another storm gathers.
The night wind should
do the sweeping.

—A. B. Casuga

Images triggering the "found" poem.
A wind in the night swept the broom off the porch; I find it in the garden. A thin milk of clouds. The sun’s whiskers slowly disappear.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-20-11

Saturday, February 19, 2011

RETURN MAIL 2 (After Letter to Levity*)


(After Letter to Levity*)

How could you have guessed that my voice is barely
“audible over the wind like a junco’s chitter?”
Funny how it’s really reduced to a little snowbird’s
titter, and I have not heard of that rara avis junk
since I used it as foil to lads and lasses jumping
Into dark waters wherever filth and penury mingle.

I cannot stop giggling now on my hammock by the bay,
although I cannot abide the gauche mongers staring
at me rolling off into a soft sand splat roaring silly
reading about Herr Khadaffi, condoms, sausages,
feasts on strawberry lotion, virgins, and decrepit me.
But it’s good you wrote me again. I need levity.

After my last harangue about my rended haunches
and dying loins on ebbtides and stripped quarry trucks
revving the bejesus out of my long vacation by the sea,
I need to travel around this blistered place and back
and bring with me lyrics of laughter and relics of joy
and orgiastic screaming on searing summer beaches.

But all I hear now over my hammock and hoary
body creaks are the ceaseless banshee of mourning
and dying in mudslides, drowning in mudfloods,
crushing skulls in errant temblors, whales beaching
themselves in sandbar graves, deaths in Tunisia,
Egypt, Libya, Iran, Bahrain, Lebanon, Myanmar.

And it is not even afternoon yet.
Trala-la. Haha! Trala-la!
And snowflakes crackle with dry leaves.
Trala-la . Haha! Trala-la!

P.S.  (:-)) + (:-~) + (:-0)

Mississauga, Ont. 2-19-11

Poem triggered by these images and Luisa Igloria's Letter to Levity

Just audible over the wind: a junco’s chitter. Leaves lift off from the newly melted forest floor and join a harried flock of snowflakes.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-19-11 (

*Letter to Levity by Luisa Ilgoria (

Thursday, February 17, 2011

RETURN MAIL: A Poem (After a Letter of Affliction*)

Photo by Bobby Ong Jr.

(After A Letter of Affliction)

I, an old man,/ a dull head among windy spaces.
--- T. S. Eliot, Gerontion

It’s noisy with the sound of trucks leaving
the stripped quarry like some la femme du nuit
looking spent in a small circle of melted sheets
not unlike this barricade of trees fencing me in
when I should be out among the cormorants
molesting errant crayfish on the breakwater
boulders, clamping them with the vise grip
of beak before dumping them back into
a cocktail of blackened pools and fetid algae,
my vaunted daiquiri or limey brew on my
long vacation by the sea.

Now you write to ask if it was not too late
to take this one? Porquoi pas?

For hearts frozen with regrets and hollow
memories, it is finally too late, mon amour,
because this thaw among sandpipers and gulls
is also the noise of quarry trucks cracking
the hard-earned quietude that has come
as an ebbtide when the crushing gulfstream
has cut the sandbars and left the stripped
quarry to cover sand holes rending flaccid
haunches and dying loins. It is too late.

Mississauga, Ont. 02-17-11

Poem triggered by these images
It’s in the 40s and noisy with the sound of trucks. Each tree stands in a small circle of melted ground like a bear balancing on a unicycle.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-11-11 (

* Luisa Igloria, Via Negativa (

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Photo by Bobby Wong Jr.


We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.---T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Little Gidding

Sunrise on a highway ridge baffles us.
This could be sundown elsewhere by the bay
in Poro Point, a merging of origins, east or west,
a cycle of living and dying on the reef,
a coming and going on the harbour of fishing boats
and war machines, a pot of stirred calm and tempest
really, where remembering and forgetting are sides
of the same coin---memories made, buried, raised,
extinguished or lived again in a string of moments
that defines the journey of a man as symbol
of a moving object, wandering back and forth,
from nothing to something, something to nothing,
a Brahman-Atman, Alpha-Omega, being-non-being,
body-mind and soul all in one simple brownbag
of wonder and questions. Quite like that silly
white-tailed squirrel wandering, wondering
where it last buried a nut or a memory of one,
as its quaint prompter of an imitation of life,
a movement here, a movement there, all
really meaning a stillness of finding where
the end is one’s beginning and also his end,
a circle at last where the hole defines
life’s next of kin. One arrives home to ask:
Is anybody home?

Mississauga, Ont., 02-15-11

Poem triggered by the given images:

Sunrise stains the western ridge. A squirrel wanders back and forth on an icy snowbank, stirred, no doubt, by the memory of a buried nut.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, Feb. 15, 2011. (

Sunday, February 13, 2011



(For All My Loved Ones)

A waif on beggarline throws his blanket over
the shivering man’s back when he gets caught
in the windchill unawares. The boy catches
falling flakes, the old man manages a toothy grin.

The doddering woman past her prime lifts
the wailing child across a snowpack while
trying to wipe off mucus from its runny nose,
and steadying herself from a sidewalk fall.

The half-clad farmer pushes the masticated rice
into the mouth of his infant son after chewing
it soft like most birds drop wrigglers into the beaks
of their twittering chicks frantic in teetering nests.

Yelping pups snuggle to nudge the canine teats
hard for milk curdled in withered breasts
that no longer swing from a thin and bony ribcage,
and the bitch blinks its bleary eyes in the dark alley.

One finds it when and where no one is looking
but it becomes a circus fare when a young warrior
gets himself crucified on a tree in the hill of skulls
spread-eagled and denuded defining love as love is.

February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

THE BROOM (A Poem Triggered by a Ligne Donne [Given Line] ): A Series


Something about a broom in a closet’s nook
tells all there is to know about cleansing:
cobwebs, mud, guck, refuse gathered
in crannies where we did not expect
to find them, tripping saints and sinners
into a kind of meaning where there is none.

Dirt gathers, envelopes us into cocoons
of guilt and loneliness, and we spend
our lives dusting it off houses better left
without porches, until we begin to accept
how each anguished or angry swipe
simply means a shedding of straw
with every futile pass.

On some porch covered by snowdrift,
we will always find a broom shorn
of its straw, its handle wrapped
in dingy rags, leaning against a post
like a toothless scarecrow. Looking scared.

Mississauga, Ontario 2-3-11

The Given Line triggering the poem (ligne donne)

A thin snowdrift has taken refuge on the porch, covering all but the outermost foot. My old broom sheds pieces of straw with every pass.---Dave Bonta, Morning Porch, 2-3-11 (