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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


"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."
---Little Gidding, Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

Back from a two-week respite, we have yet to steady our sea-legs from those cruises on The Allure and the Disney's DreamWorld.

How was it? Apart from the epigraph above, in the poet's words: " the stillness/ Between two waves of the sea./ Quick now, here, now, always---/A condition of complete simplicity."

Friday, March 11, 2011




Without mentioning the word "tsunami", this poem posted by Norfolk,Viriginia Fil-Am poet Luisa A. Igloria, marks this disaster that struck Japan just hours ago. We are proud to re-post it here even as it begins to symbolize a dreaded memento mori.


Posted on March 11, 2011 by Luisa A. Igloria in Dave Bonta's The Morning Porch literary website(last modified at 7:30 pm, 3/11/11)

Above the tree line, a cloud bank edged in indigo.

Once, a woman unrobed to show the scars she bore as she ran down a road long ago, a child with her mouth open, ash falling from the sky.

Water thunders in every ditch. A freight train wails.

Ships have disappeared into the sea, tugboats, frailer craft. An airport is submerged in water.

So still, as if the world were tensing for another blow.

The ground is mostly bare again. The wind is salted with fine flakes.

And if time is the enemy, what is the name of the wind that blows

fine sand into my eyes?

Poised in the hollow of the wave, the fishermen huddle. You could count their heads, smooth like beads on an abacus or a prayer chain.

And after the blows, the softening.

The gnarled parts often contain water, hardened through the years.

So you say you know the Chinese character for “squander”— but I want to know first what there is to spend.

A hand raised in greeting is a cup, a well, an oasis.

And yes, every poem is about love.

Scientists tell us there are fine tremors in the earth every day that we do not even feel.

Think of so many of these in any given moment, especially the ones that feel completely still.

—Luisa A. Igloria

03 11 2011

A Response to After Hokusai’s Thirty Six Views

Albert B. Casuga says:  March 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm

A perfect “tsunami” poem, even the long lines are ideographs of the onrushing waves and unstoppable tide.

After the disasters plaguing the Earth, there must be a “softening” of its tenants. There’s that little child, naked, running through Hanoi’s streets in mortal panic over the napalm bombing. The havoc brought upon this planet by natural disaster is man-made. The mayhem man has caused can only warm him: the stillness thereafter “is only a tensing for another blow.”

Water— which otherwise would be a raised welcome cup or an oasis for the desert — could as wantonly come back from the sea and eat everything up. The wrath of water is from a stillness before the temblor that whips the ocean floors up into this killing frenzy.

As the poem warns: “think of many of these…specially the ones that feel completely still.” Yes, this is a love poem, too. It offers a caveat to man—the love that is squandered in these disasters is that which should have been heaped on an Earth that can only be still so long, before it gets annoyed by the stings of annoying inhabitants who cannot be bothered cleaning up their mess before these become mountains of garbage, billowing wells of toxic fumes, global incineration. Then, the Iceman Cometh.

Think of these at all given moments. The ensuing stillness could become the dreaded whimper.

Hokusai’s tsunami painting prompted Luisa Igloria’s poem powerfully.---ALBERT B. CASUGA

Reposted from Dave Bonta's Via Negativa ( 03-11-11

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Photo by Bobby Ong Jr., Postcards from Manila


How can there be things almost oblivious to suffering?*

How can there be glorious sunsets?
How can there be spring flowers?
How can there be singing birds?
How can there be children laughing?
How can there be mothers rearing?
How can there be patriots dying?
How can there be being instead of nothing?

–Albert B. Casuga

* A "prompt" from Luisa Igloria's "Impression, with Rain and Buds", posted in Dave Bontas's Via Negativa, 03-10-11

Monday, March 7, 2011



I had barely finished whittling on my cane handle—
a duck-like protuberance on a branch I found wedged
between a broken shovel and a headless broom—
when I got startled by an unexpected trill, a song
sparrow warbling astride a neatly gathered pile of twigs
ready for the refuse hauling. Rain has washed the yard
of the rotting leaves freed from frozen mounds of snow,
and the east wind has brought a whiff of warmer air.

I made a hurried wager with the sprawled Labrador
gnawing on his day-old bone on my soggy porch —

“If this twitter does not bode the season’s turn
or bear tidings of a premature spring, I will wrap
myself away and stay asleep, and give this cane
its full reprieve from propping my twisted knees
and aching body in the dreamed-of walks through
the woods’ edge, and leave the swelling buds to fall off
yet again from expectant branches like flushed victims
of fraud swindled off their hopes by false pulses of spring,
or aborted by an investment of bad weather in the dotage
of a dotard Earth grown weary of wanton tenants
who cannot be bothered to clean their porches.”

I say, old chap. Did you just say, spring will be returning?

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont., 03-06-11

These are the images that "prompted" the poem.
Small rain on an east wind. Swelling buds impart a faint red hue to the woods’ edge, and a song sparrow states the obvious: spring is here.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 03-06-11


Sunday, March 6, 2011



When the valley wakes up on Trillium Trail,
the Sarnath lessons will be the hushed song
of the sunrise breeze: these are blossoms
from the other side where the creek turns
blue and the rivers calm: always, always,
in the maze of imprecise feelings, our mudra
shall shape the passion all lovers put to use
when love is beyond saying, beyond ecstasy.

When we wake up to find a harbour of sails,
we must all go their way, touch them to know
that what we have is not our own, nor yet
the place where we shall be but shall not be.
Beyond longing, beyond desire, we will all
wake up to where we are not. Where love is.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont. 03-05-11

These images "prompted"  the "found" poem.

…three arms extended/in a mudra of grace…/the white flag of a tail/…is the only lambent thing./ May all beings awake.---Dave Bonta, "White Trillium", Via Negativa, 03-04-11 (

Saturday, March 5, 2011



The hawks are back, so must the hunt:
will larger prey save the juncos this time?
No grim reminders remain, rain rinses
the stains on the now supple branches.

But there must be an older scenario here:
the female glides into a taller pine,
her male consort plays a coy peek and hide
(not quite a peck and ride yet) among oaks

flexing sagging twigs, catching sticks
that fall from frozen beaks of carpenter birds
now hithering thithering, feathering nests
for avian settlers should they lose time

before spring breaks the hibernation mode
of things that crawl, climb, cling, or cluck,
and inflicts the nesting restlessness among
the wanton and unafraid—the swallows

that have come back from Capistrano
and the hawks darting from pine to oak
to find which tree fulfills a female caprice
of frenzied flight from foe and friend alike

who might dare scale the tallest pine
where she perches diva-like on a sylvan porch
till he absconds his oaken refuge and fly to her,
bearing gifts of carrion and pledges of care,

testaments really of the human condition:
the God principle IS the female principle.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont., 03-04-11

Images "prompting" the poem:
An urgent, nasal call: the Cooper’s hawks are back. The female glides into a tall pine while the male appears and disappears among the oaks.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 03-04-11

Friday, March 4, 2011



(For Sotera Martinez vda. de Buenaventura+)

Her distant gaze must have transported her
to long lost lands melting into each other,
one cannot shape the sea around them.

Even before she finally closed her eyes,
she did not stay moored among the frayed
sheets she said would bind her to a past

when strolls were walkabouts along
the Paseo del Mar, trips to town were
contrite encounters at some confessional

nook in an empty church across the house
she lived in---La Iglesia de San Guillermo
was her playground of pews and candles.

She was handsome in her purple terna
when we would walk to the Convento,
her warm hand wrapped around my palm,

her parasol’s shadow on her gentle face
that would break into the bright smile
I would look for when lost in fantasies

of abandoned spaces where darkness grabs
waylaid boys and devours their entrails
falling on the narrow rain-soaked streets.

When you left us, abuela, did you somehow
know that it was better to stay asleep
and dream of sprouting a thousand parasols,

and standing by the stream to listen
to the rain tap out on rooftops the rhythm
of remembrances we shall never forget?

Aunque estos son recuerdos y pensamientos
Desolados, queridisima abuela, ellos son
Lluvia que no puedo olvidar nunca jamas.*

I will stay out in the rain today, abuela,
and catch your hand in mine, and hear
you sing the lullaby of the unceasing rain.

---Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont. 03-03-11
* Although these are sad memories and thoughts,
dearest grandmother, they are the rainfall
that I will never ever forget.

This poem was prompted by the iamges "found" in this quote from "The Truth About Trees" by Dave Bonta.
Better to stay asleep and dream of sprouting a thousand parasols or hiding like a bird beneath its feathers. Better just to stand by the stream and listen to the water, which has mastered the art of running from the sky.---Dave Bonta, “The Truth About Trees”, Via Negativa, 02-28-11 (

Thursday, March 3, 2011



(For Louis Martin Lalonde, nieto jovencito)

He stood on a box when he eagerly squealed
“ ‘Lolo! Come, help me build a castle! Come!”

Not the usual sulky, sullen, silence slicing
through the interloper who has come to retrieve
his doting abuela. His jaunty leap toppled
the box of Lego blocks spilling helter-skelter
amid clucking cuidado-warnings from her
who wondered what kindled the stripling elf
into this challenge that bewildered him who
seemed to dodder with the lilt of entreaties
rushing out like a burst of rainwater dammed
on a creek, now freed of flotsam and debris,
now on a lower key: Please, ‘lolo? Please?

Gingerly, the hapless dotard plugged holes
with stubby poles, while the littlest builder
yelled design demands shrieking with glee
that soon enough he will grow a castle out
of his dreams, tall on the rug by the fireplace,
and he shall have his throne, and cars galore.
Like all grandfathers before him or after,
he chuckled a praise for the boy suddenly
turned to a builder-man: Good work, hijo mio!

Under his breath, he also lisped a wistful
plea to the walls around him or whoever
could hear an old man’s prayer:
Please, let him build them strong, and not
destroy; and for my nieto jovencito, to never
forget that there are grander castles in the air.
Please, let him grow like the creek,
when freed of silt will turn to clearest blue.
O, let him flow like the river and find his sea.

Mississauga, Ont. 03-03-11

The poem’s Prompt.
Three days past the last rain, the creek sings in a lower key, like a boy turning into a man. Free of silt, it’s learning how to be blue.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 03-03-11 (

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RETURN MAIL 3 (After "Letter to Green") Prompted Poems Series

RETURN MAIL: (After "Letter to Green")

Verde, que te quiero verde.
—Federico Garcia Lorca

It must have been in Andalucia
(or was it Bilbao?) when I got
your last note raving about blue
skies, verdant bluffs, laurel bushes
turning to green fire under trees
singe by fierce sun rays cutting
through a fandango of branches
swaying with winds roiling the sea
beneath the cliffs where you swore
we will be when you come this way
I wore my green panuelo then;
and running your fingers
through the stray hair mottling it,
were you not recondite, mi amor,
when you said: Yo te quiero, Verde?
Or coy perchance, when the green
you were declaring ardour for
was not the shawl on my shoulders
nor my short lime-sequined vestido
but my eagerly trembling haunches,
wondering how green the grass
would remain under our bodies
while we stared at the cerulean magic
of the patch of sky seen through leaves
of the tree trunk where you carved:
Verde, yo te quiero, Verde.
A covenant made when you last said
you will be back to engrave my name.
I can only see pale shadows there now,
and on the murky ground a patch of snow.

—Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, Ont. 03-01-11

This poem was "prompted" by the following images and the poem of Luisa Igoria,  Letter to Green, on The Morning Porch ( Backlit by the sun, the weathered mountain laurel bushes turn to green fire under the trees, with pale shadows that must be patches of snow.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 03-01-11