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, May 19, 2011

TWO POEMS: RETURN MAIL (After a Letter to Nostalgia) and RETURN MAIL (After a Letter to Duty)

RETURN MAIL (After Letter to Nostalgia)
City I once wore like a shawl/on my shoulders.

You left that shawl on a pine tree branch
where I etched your name so you will return
to see it grow with the tree. But you did not. 

It does not matter. You wear that old city
on your shoulders like that green shawl
I still keep in a wooden chest carved in Ifugao. 

Its ridges, its sunsets, its clay soil, the rocks
shrouded now by sunflowers jutting through
cracks and crevices lining the zigzag roads, 

the halloo of the terrace gleaners bursting
into song at sundown: all sounds echoing
through those mountain rims and alleys 

in the city, the Indian bazaars, the roadside
bars, the cathedral overlooking the city like
a muezzin singing from his minaret, its belfry 

our lighthouse, a beacon from the lowland
refuge of white beaches and emerald seas,
the redolent smell of pine at the city limit. 

I know you keep them now in the eyes
of your children, in their laughter, and sighs
when you draw the city’s face over your heart. 

---Albert B. Casuga

Poem Prompt: "Letter to Nostalgia" by Luisa A. Igloria posted in Via Negativa, 05-17-11

RETURN MAIL (After Letter to Duty) 

Is this all that remains/ of desire’s candle that burned, its two seared/ ends meeting in the middle?

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
the glory in the flower? But it has never left you;
not when you still cup your ears to the murmurs
of ebbtides and  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 the stars
knowing we could not but recounted them
from inconstant starts and lost count anyway.

 ---Albert B. Casuga

Poem Prompt: "Letter to Duty" by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 05-16-11

No comments: