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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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


From the beginning, years/have been love letters/to things that disappear/and remain. --- From “Two Thousand and….” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, o6-28-11 

Once upon a time: is a slumber line if any,
unlike lullabies that now use the F word.* 

Once upon a time: was a trigger to fantasy
about frogs and princes, fairies and trolls. 

“Once upon a time” has yet to be edited
out of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Bellows. 

Once upon a time: that, too, has come back
to all our versions of the incarnated Word. 

Once upon a time the world was simpler
than we know. That was once upon a time. 

But our milestones were once upon a time
marks of how far we have rolled millstones 

farther away from what once upon a time
were the jumping cliffs of self-immolation. 

We will move on, but leave our footprints
where we were happy once upon a time.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Have you come across American actor Samuel Jackson’s reading of “Go the F*** to Sleep! “? Google it. It has broken You Tube hit records. In our time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


What sound is made/when something slips away and the hand closes/and opens on nothing but cool air in its wake? /…That’s/the heart missing what it wants to hold fast.---From “Aubade” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-27-11


She got curious about palmistry once:
I wagered she could not read my palms.
How much time will I have? Life line.
How much time do we have? Heart line.
How long will I hold on to my mind? 

All of the lines end inside my open palm,
they have no story to tell. She dropped
my limp hand on her lap and said: You
are right, I could not read it. Could not?
Would not? Palm readers often clam up. 

They would rather keep the dark where
they belong: inside bottomless darkness.
At sundown, on my hammock hour, I
look at my palms again, peer at them
against the waning glow. Did she know? 

I open and close them wondering
what sound they would make if they
could, and quickly learn that old fingers
crackle then release weakly into open
palms, like a flower, or a needy heart: 

I close them tightly now upon my chest
and pray that I could hold on fast
to even these leftover remembrances
now slipping through my flaccid fingers
like sand, like love when I was not looking.

---Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AN UNCOMMON SENSE (Hammock Poems Series)


That humans need time, and the senses/with which to paddle through it/and navigate, and to get lost in the water’s/response as we push and kick.---From“Making Sense” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist.

It was a Rational Psychology 101 lecture,
and half of us were half asleep. De rigueur: 

Half of what I now recall about nothing
is that there is nothing in the mind  

that does not first exist in the senses.
Common sense.  Except that it is uncommon. 

Is it not special to find that goose pimples
are but the tell-tale signs of being touched? 

That time, you caressed my face when you saw
those letters I cut into that hapless branch. 

You did not need to say anything: your heart
did as it skipped a beat, my head on your chest. 

“Con amor duradero*,” completed the carving.
Your mute kiss said:  forever. I said: always. 

 Would our eyes have seen that same eternity
if they were all that we had to have and to hold? 

On sundowns like this, on my hammock hour,
I look back to those lost years, bleary eyed. 

My mind was right. Nothing lives forever.
Are our lives all a lump of dearly felt lies then? 

What we felt then die, and are strewn like limp
clocks in a Dali landscape, despite memories? 

Yet, during these precious hammock hours,
I’d rather have seen, felt, caressed, and kissed 

Every undulant shadow before me, danced
that light fandango with them, talked to them 

even if they did not hear me nor care to hold
me, until I fall asleep muttering still: Forever.

---Albert B. Casuga


*With lasting love. 

Photo by Bobby Ong Jr.

Monday, June 27, 2011



Lush hedges, iron gates, beveled glass doors,
patio doors opening to a river view of birds
on the wing and gardenia petals wafted
into rooms where there is no one there:

I was looking for a home. This is a house.

All it would have taken were those dancing
figures, reflections on smudged chromes,
the frolic of rolling oranges on speckled tiles,
kitchens redolent with burning bagels,
and those sounds we cuddle by as rain
patters like little feet on windows we will
look out of waiting for the peal of children
running naked through the rain.

—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: No one lists these other views: From "Listings" by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-25-11

Saturday, June 25, 2011


One of the day's pleasant surprises was an e-mail from my son attaching an "ace" composition by his second child, his only girl, Megan Sarah Casuga, who is finishing her sixth grade this June at the St. Dunstan Elementary School, here in Mississauga. An essay on the Crucifixion of Jesus, the brief narrative/descriptive essay delighted me no end. From a sixth grader, it was a better written material than some of those submitted by my university students.

Here's my fifth grandchild (of the present 9, soon to be 10 some September), Megan, writing about Christendom's holiest event in a palpably anguished but quiet elegance befitting the solemnity of the Crucifixion. Not a word wasted. The narration is served graphically by descriptive words and phrases.

A little while ago, when she was barely five, I remember bringing her to weekly art classes at one of this city's community centers. She can draw and paint. I did not suspect that one day, without my mentoring, she would also add writing to her treasure chest of talents. Writing with aplomb. I cannot fully claim the gene-pool since her father, my only son. Albert Beau, writes and etches himself. Of course, I include myself in that area of "responsibility". Indeed, "the apple did not fall far from the tree."

Avoiding any close analysis or critique, I am posting her composition below. I invite all readers to make a judgment on how well her narrative/descriptive essay was written. I am, of course, proud to say, I have another literary creature climbing the ladder in the family tree.

In an earlier blog post, I called the poem collection (a chapbook entitled
Young Poems) of another grandchild, Taylor C. Kwan, a 7th Grader at St. Valentines Elementary School and Megan's best friend, a "gift outright". Here's another "gift outright" from provident hands, and I am not sure I can thank them enough.

Everything is silent. You can only hear the faint sound of crying. You can hear people praying for forgiveness. The air is filled with sorrow. He is dead. Jesus is crucified.            
When you look back you can see him struggling to carry the cross. Falling again and again. People screaming and crying out. He is in pain yet no one helps. The guards scream at him to move on. He knows he has to do this so he moves onwards. He is coming closer and closer to his death.
All you can hear is the loud pounding nailing him to the cross. Again and again. Jesus has to be brave. Giant storms are cast. Lighting and thunder fill the sky. Rain pounds down. He asks his father to forgive the people. He is calm even though all around him is pain. A tear rolls downs his mother’s cheek as she asked God why? It becomes louder and louder until you can no longer bear to look. He looks up and says his last words. Then… silence.

Friday, June 24, 2011


“We have known them all already,
known them all”. Thus, we measure lives,
abandoned hopes, laments, even sighs.
We have heard them all already,
the prayers that remain unanswered
behind bolted doors, darkened rooms.
This anguish over being here and not
here is all too familiar, but like innocent
children, we still look toward times
when we eagerly open holiday boxes
and find surprises no longer there,
but manage to smile anyway, bottle up
a “No thank you,” and move on to other
boxes, only to find feigned familiar
joy that those are still the wanted toys.
Like uncertain weather marked in the sky,
we move on, unchartered, with the flux,
like all things plotted begin then end.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: Like the sky that’s often mistaken for weather;/ and the world beneath it going where it goes. ---From “Familiar” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-23-11,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A DIALOGUE ON RAIN DANCES AND MOSS (Conversations with Stick Series #l6)

We even have rain dances, Stick, to pray for rain.
But we still have our little deserts despite that.
The Hopi have it, the Navajo, the Igolots. The lot.
Mayans, Aztecs, and all the prayers they have got.
In the old country, tots still sing that song while
they halloo in the rain, bathing naked in the rain.
“I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain.
I’m happy in the rain, just happy in the rain…”
Why can’t I recall those Gene Kelly lyrics? Dang!
Oh, to feel that downpour on my face again!
In Ranchipur, they un-learned rain-prayers.
Monsoon scares even the farmers and fishermen.
Grade schoolers have even learned another ditty:
“Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day.”
Schoolhouses float in floods brought by monsoon
rains from Indonesia to China. Now Australia.
It’s summer at last, but does it have to be humid?
Poor chap over there has a dour face. He gazes
at his garden, at the portion given to all that moss,
looks back at stunted buds on his rotting trellises.
Like a sad farmer who has lost a crop. Like a sad
father who needed the money to send a kid to school.
“Into each life, some rain must fall…a rolling stone
gathers no moss,” my roused errant friend snapped.
Tracing a searing Gobi in that man’s countenance,
I grabbed its scruff and mumbled: Shut up, Stick!
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: The steady rain of 6 a.m. gives way to sticky heat by 10. I stand gazing like a sad father at the portion of my garden given over to moss.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-22-11

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



Sit. Feast on your life.
---From “Love After Love”, Derek Walcott

Although this invitation will prolong our wait
in the cold antechambers that we surround
ourselves with, we will cautiously accept it. 

Why not? Sitting here, staring at a kaleidoscope
of the many faces we have constructed to meet
other faces, I celebrate a love affair with myself. 

Who else will do that for me? There were lovers,
and there were lovers, but they held on to their
own chisels to pare and scrape their own image 

of what they could have and hold not unlike
a wild-eyed Pygmalion sculpting flesh onto his one
desire, a Galatea of his rawest wants and dreams. 

I will sit and wait for the feast of all feasts
to be served on my table, my head on a platter,
my heart seasoning a bowl of hope, a soup├žon 

of little mercies that lovers often do: a salving
of hurts, a troth of endless fealty, a promise
that the image on the mirror is finally, only mine. 

---Albert B. Casuga


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A DIALOGUE ON CIRCLES (Conversations with Stick Series #15)

A quid pro quo, if there is one, Stick.
One act of kindness has its other side
on the same coin: that spider would
come down the drain and mangle
some parts, but for this ushering.
Foraging, the woodchuck is startled out
of its thicket and barrels through but
also releases the grass from its burden
of rain and it springs up to sunshine
and softens the craggy valley with
green blades cutting through earth.
Huh? What squid? What pro?
Shut up, Stick. It’s the circle of life.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: Ushering an enormous wolf spider outside, I disturb a baby woodchuck. Grass blades weighed down by rain spring up as it barrels through.---Dave Bonta,  The Morning Porch, 06-1-11

Monday, June 20, 2011

DIALOGUE ON IMMORTALITY (Conversations with Stick Series #14)


You know, milord, that guy who wrote:
“…And Death shall have no dominion,”
he’s wrong. Terribly. Look at these lilacs
crushed by a fallen dead elm branch.
Even in death, it destroyed the beautiful!

Shut, up, Stick. A little learning is a
dangerous thing. The poet said: “Death,
where is thy sting?” Leave me with my
tea, will you? I need it hot this morning.
Look, Stick, a phoebe uses it as a perch.

—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: Gone for just two days, I come home to find half the lilac crushed by a fallen limb from the dead elm. A phoebe already uses it as a perch.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-20-11

Sunday, June 19, 2011



The space cleared/is bigger than they were/ the maker of the snow angel/ once they get up from the ground.---From “Personal Space” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 06-14-11 *

I thought it was the other way around:
When one is no longer there, he will be
bigger than the space he occupied.  I
cannot begin to gather the memories
grown rampant of those I have loved
and lost, they will fill my days to the brim. 

How can I run with my father through
those fields with a wayward kite? How
can  I sing those goodbye songs in my
abuela’s tremulous voice? Will I keep
in tempo with grandfather’s steps when
I find myself walking up the winding
stairwells, my little palms in his hands? 

Will I tell those tales of enchanted
elves and flirting fairies as animatedly
as grandmother Teodora, and hold
my own grandchildren in thrall? How
large a space must I have to grow with
them  while I keep this quiet watch over
the rhythm of days as we bravely wait? 

I will not be able to fill these spaces you
have carved yourselves when you were
here---they overwhelm me with grandeur.
How will I cope with the largeness of your
presence now that you have gone from us? 

Like the lad who threw himself on the snow
to create his winged likeness, I find my
snow angel  larger than I am achingly small
engulfed by lingering memories of your
abiding love and immeasurable greatness.

---Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I wake up mornings now counting
what’s left of my constancies, like coins
in a child’s piggybank. That everything
is in a constant flux is itself constant.
But I stay grateful for the same sun
rising over the mountain ridge at cockcrow.
At sundown, I chirp with the swallows
as they perch to wait for that same sun.
My yesterdays and tomorrows are twin
pictures of what was and will be or might
have been, like the ebb tide that will still
be there erasing footprints left on the sand.
Will there be old footprints there again?
It is a rhythm of a quiet watch over how
soon the death we have been born with
will pay its final visit. Quite like a cricket’s
chant describes the kind of day I’ll have,
after my tea, after all the teas of my life.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: At 8:47, the sun puts in its first appearance. The cricket in my garden—the only weather forecast I follow—doesn’t miss a beat.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-17-11 

Friday, June 17, 2011

A DIALOGUE ON A QUARRY (Conversations with Stck Series #13)

It is a Ground Zero thing, Stick; no one talks about it now
except the minute men, make that capitals: M & M.
No, not those candies, silly. But never mind. That blast
could have been heard around the world if it were there.
Wall (Money) Street, the United (Debating) Nations,
Greenwich Village, Chinatown, the Nooyawktimes,
the Clinton Bronx, ad misericordiam. What would
America be minus them? But,  pray,  not Hollywood!
Oh, we “will bear any burden, oppose any foe…”*
It’s why we have footprints on the moon, the Internet,
Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! and Lord, the CIA.
What would this planet be without these amber waves
of grain? This land of the brave, this home of the free?
I say, Stick, that’s one too many blasts from two miles
away. Praise Yahweh! But that must be the quarry boys
down there, blasting the minerals out, fossil for our Fords,
and gold. Elsewhere, my errant friend, when downstream
natives in the Philippines hear a blast one too many, they
will hasten with their basins to sieve the golden morsels
downriver, as they did in Ye Old Yukon north of the border.
And in old Benguet, in the boondocks of the Flip’s Mountain
Provinces, in the Itogon mines. Saturday nights in the grills
of Baguio City, that pinetree haven of my youth and undying
affection: all suborned by the American presence. Bullions.
Sinatra asked once in that song: What is America for me?
An M&M neighbour (shhh…) said: Dang! A land of the free!
Beware the wrath of the little citizen in Plummer’s Hollow:
he says: never again; his Hispanic brother: Nunca jamas!
Never again will American blood be shed in American soil!
Stick, aroused from stupor asked: Where then, milord?
Where? I gulped down my cup of cold tea—Nestea?—and
spat it out. Shut up, Stick, geopolitics on this porch is risky.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: A loud blast from the quarry two miles away: the kind of literal “terrorist attack on American soil” nobody but the neighbors ever mentions.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-16-11

SURFACING (Arts Poetica Series #2)

(An Ars Poetica)
Surfacing. We allow ourselves this one
salving act when every balm fails.
Bobbing up for air where it is rare,
we pray that this will hold long enough.
Enough for the moments at dusk when
we must dive again, submerge again,
into depths we know will one day hold us
down, and remain there to mend hurts
that in those magical spaces become
like pearls: prickly cutting dirt engulfed
into bivalved flesh that may in turn
become a magical gem from the agony.
Surfacing, we find ourselves some river
stream to rest with the rolling river stones.
Surfacing, we know we must go back
to the darkened depths, and like oysters
bear the pain cutting through our flesh
that we may surface soon with a new pearl.
—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: The river stones lie quietly under water:/not quite weightless but small/ enough to turn and bevel at the edges.---From “Chaplet” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-16-11

Thursday, June 16, 2011


On my hammock, on afternoons like this,
I have the whole sky for a taut canvas.
It is easy enough to paint a landscape
rolling on clouds that transform quickly.
That mass of cumulus moving toward
the hillocks of Nara is my father’s face.
I can see my Chloe in a furious pirouette
among those swirling cirrus. A ballerina.
Are clouds the sum of all our memories?
Do they shape the fears that we run from?
Or have I just run aground, no wind
on my sail, no seascapes nor harbours?
On afternoons like this, on my hammock,
I cull the pictures I have collected, a collage
of dispersing dwindling drawings on skies
that darken at sundown drowning them all.
What have I rushed for, hieing to a country
of old men? These are empty spaces of empty
hours, a dull ache that stands for a leftover life
marking rhythms of time on a swaying hammock.
—Albert B. Casuga
Prompt: Now /I try to learn the gold-slow rhythms of afternoons,/ the thrift of hours from the longer bones of time.---From “Anniversary” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-14-11