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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



 Simeon, look at the sky, its script of rain/Is part of it somehow, the Christmas vow.--- Simeon Dumdum Jr., A Ghazal for my Friends at Christmas.

At sundown, when the sun sets, the Christmas vow
Is clear on the script of rain---a covenant of rainbow.

Après Le Deluge, it was not the vulture sent down
To mark the end of the covenant on the rainbow. 

The dove brings the rain script down from an ark
Now stuck on an Ararat of some promised rainbow. 

It will be gone before it comes, the curse of living
Without the meaning behind the façade of a rainbow. 

There will come from the wilderness of spite taking
Shape in the indigo of that covenant on the rainbow, 

Dark, murky, unclean in the cerulean pad of the sky,
An arch with warm colours as vowed by that rainbow. 

I shall be with you until the consummation of colour
Upon the stark promise of that convenant rainbow: 

I will be with you, forever and forever; I will be with you,
Mother, at the end of the covenant-coloured rainbow. 

You are with me until the dying of returning swallows,
But how much have we pledged instead on a rainbow

In this stormy weather, in the expanse of a blue sky?
To bring us all to the house of the covenant rainbow, 

The Child warmed by the donkey’s feed in Bethlehem
Will be our promise indelibly inked on that rainbow. 

He will still be there holding the hues of the covenant
with you, forever and forever, at the end of the rainbow.



Saturday, December 15, 2012



(For the Children of Newtown, Connecticut)

 Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of God. --- St. Mark ch. 10 v. 14, the Holy Bible

“No,” he screamed, there was no one at his porch
Except the empty tea cup on his littered writing table,
“This is too senseless to be silent about or to be brave
about, no face of courage can take this! I won’t!” 

He will break his promise to meet every gory mayhem
Slaughtering children with the silence and stillness
His father said was the surest manner of disarming
Even a juramentado, a deranged reaper for Allah. 

Killing for one’s god is a talisman that will not work
With silence, but this was a young boy mowing down
Frenziedly scared toddlers hardly weaned off pacifiers.
“Personality disorder,” the dumbstricken explain away. 

Exposure to a culture of violence, the one that inures
Even the brightest lads and giggling lasses to the gore
Of war and murder most foul, savants of madness say,
Their wrists limp on tall tumblers of champagne.

He stared at the  horrified faces of puling children
Beelined to a sanctum, rushing armed men skipping
To the rhythm of combat, teachers-mother-hen-like
Clucking for their wards, wailing tots, under tables. 

The idiot box manages to capture purely idiotic,
Inhumanly stupid caterwauling of pundits, governors,
And every common barber shop jerk crying for a lynch,
Begging for a posse of armed mothers and fathers. 

But the geek with a mushroom head will not give them
The pleasure of the hunt. He killed a score of innocents
Much like the disembowling of holy innocents of yore
Ordered by an insane bastard out to slay a rumored 

Messiah, one born in the cradle of wealth, an heir
To a King David whose throne will outlast all rulers
Who seat on clay or rotten stubbs, and offed himself.
Could he have guessed, instead  one born in a stable?  

A sovereign on a donkey trotting to the hisses
Of eunuched holy men when his time came to fulfill
The raves of the man yammering about a man-god
Come to restore a paradise? His head ended up on a platter. 

He, only he, will be able to sleep well tonight, all nights,
Even; he knows these abattoir of butchers in a posh,
Clean and well-lit postcard village, these cold slicing
Of throats in all the war zones of a beleaguered planet,

The quartering of children in Goma, Congo, genocides
In Syria, Palestine, Maguindanao, Virginia,  Oregon,
Aurora, Jerusalem, Egypt, Norway, the pogroms
Of a larger-than-life midget revered still as Comrade Stalin, 

The ovens of syphillitic Hitler, the daily dose of infanticide,
Mothers strangling their listless children in bathtubs,
Fathers killing all their trailer-sheltered encumbrances
To spite the hell out of cuckolding wives, Adam Lanza, 21, 

Blasting his mother’s head off---a rehearsal as a prelude
To the slaughter of the Connecticut innocents, suicides
Of love-starved ingénues clutching Facebook taunts
Of naked pictures and faceless phalluses. He knows. 

And he will, after today’s silent scream, meet all disasters
With stoic silence and stillness, because they are cries
In the Wilderness, not far from the edge of these woods,
That a Second Coming is ripe. He needs to hoard all 

This anger, this unyielding hatred, this wordless suffering
As starkly honest as the whines of a copycat Job, will be
Transformed into the purest of Love, the one weapon left
To smite all who mock the descended avenger with his sword, 

His terrible swift sword, wielded with light born of the one
Love that shall tie all into unity again, body into spirit,
The essential joy of soaring with the godhead reigning
Forever with the many who have melded into One. 

E pluribus unum. His body is ours, His blood runs through us.
At last, he will recognize from the throne of his little porch
How men shall all be part of a cathedral of thought, of Love,
An unbreakable Unity full of silence and stillness brought
By Him/Her in a long-expected covenant promised on a rainbow.
Mississauga, December 15, 2012


Thursday, December 13, 2012


(Click on image to zoom in on Text)


Sometime in the gloom of this dread, a hill
of burning sand replaces the stable manger,
and Somalia’s desert becomes a new world’s
Bethlehem. In its famine zones, a limp baby
struggles to stay alive. Minhaj Gedi Farah,
starves under a mosquito net in the world’s
largest refugee camp, “even his mother
has given up hope that her baby boy, Minhaj,
would survive,” reports the Associated Press.  

But magi and shepherds alike did not need a star
to lead them back to his tent. No gold, no myrrh,
nor incense gifted, just a mix of Plumpy’Nut,
AP calls a “cute name for vitamins and minerals
saving Minhaj. Three packets a day of the peanut-
based paste help a child gain up to two pounds
in a single week. It doesn’t require cooking or
refrigeration...Today, Baby Minhaj is thriving,
growing from seven lbs. in July to 18 pounds
in October, 2011.”  

And our world will not give up, on all
that is innocent. Not this boy, not all Earth’s
boys. No massacre will cut them down again,
nor troops to slay them in brutal Kenya camps.
There will be time enough for a Calvary, but not now,
nor Minhaj need be a redeemer. Mankind in his tent
will not be taxed for the sturdiest crucifying lumber,
all they need are 21 packets of Plumpy’Nut at $10,
and a deluge of epiphany: they are this brother’s keeper.




Monday, December 10, 2012



No light shines that is not itself a road/ No other door opens except in dreams.---From “In Dreams” by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.


This fire must burn fiercely to build the road
that ends at the foundling’s darkened cavern.  

Blind eyes will discover how only hearts can
find where the flame has been lit to crackle  

through endless nights of endless dreaming
for an advent that is also the final leaving:  

How long will this journey take to open doors
that will take him in? Why are they all closed?  

A peasant woman and her bewildered lover,
huddle around a trough of dampened feed,  

and cannot hear their fears drowned by hope
that their wildest nightmare of an unborn  

child would be a prince of peace whose light
is all he could offer the wounded and the poor.  

For these afflicted, the light will all be roads,
to his kingdom where dreams are also doors  

to a bountiful garden carved from twin hills
of birth and crucifixion. Bethlehem is Calvary.  




Thursday, November 29, 2012


(Please Click on Image to Zoom in on Text. Photo by Jerome Delay, The Associated Press)


1. The Surgeon

I will mend you, Gloire,
If it takes all my dark days.
Heal, little girl, heal.

2. O.R. Staff

Stay with us, wee lass,
Do not close your eyes on us,
Stay alive, Gloire.

3. Survivor in Goma

She ran all the way
To the ration store here
To get some corn. Gloire.

4. The Rescue Team

Slumped on a mound
Of brown rice, she did not cry.
She bled silently.

O, Gloire. You could not
Even whimper like a fallen
Dog, caught with a bone.

You held on to your
Bag of corn, kernels blood red
From your gushing wound.

O Gloire, you even
Smiled and laughed a little:
You got Maman corn

She could cook for you
And your now dead brothers, Gloire.
Was it your birthday?

5. The Rebel Soldier

O, little hero, live,
I swear to be brave for you.
Grow strong for Motherland!

6. The Gunman

From this tree, I must
Hang myself in shame, cut my
Throat. I shot this girl.

7. Gloire's First Words

Will mother be mad?
I did not bring home her corn.
Aieee...that hurts, Sir. Aiee...

8. Amani Zaliwa

O Gloire, my brave girl,
Live for us who deserve death,
For being afraid to die.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012



When Time equals Being,
That would be the End.

Nothing would get past
The edges of ephemera.

What would the end be,
When Being equals Time?

There will not be a bang
Anywhere, nor a whimper.

There can only be trumpets
Of the winged proclaiming

An arrival in a regained
Haven where Death is dead;

At which time, no time
Marks being on time. Ever.

All will be late for the birth
Of God on Judgment Day.

---Albert B. Casuga



Monday, November 26, 2012



He said wallpapers in his study must be plain,
no flowers, trees, birds, or senseless curlicues
can match the birth-to-baptism-to-birthday
pictures that he prays would include weddings,
births, elf-looking poses of children and theirs,
grandchildren and theirs (he’d be a hundred),
framed and frozen in time, a collection of smiles
that would bind the Earth like a ribbon of glee
when knotted from-pursed-end to-toothy-end.

He said he will be the memento-keeper of long
remembrances, a Methuselah of happy times,
and he would not exchange his role for places
in havens of peace and quiet, he’d have laughter
and surprise squeals of romping lads and lasses,
infants once, gossoons and ingénues forever.

All his waking and sleeping hours are litanies
of joie de vivre: was that Marie on the turf?
How new, yet how knowing her whole-face
smile comes through like a burst of sunshine
that promises a long-drawn spring, a summer
of running across strawberry fields, jumping
into lily-mottled rivers. Was that Matthew
sprawled on the soccer green, his megawatt
grin saying: I’m okay, gramps, okay. Okay?
Was that Chloe in a princess’ veil? Did she
do that regal pirouette, and that wild bourree?
Was that Megan with her palette and canvas,
showing off a portrait of a once chubby Mikee?
Was that him needing help blowing his cake’s
Candles, and all ten grandchildren lending it?

Abandon all dread and heartbreak you who
enter this space, this paradise
, his artlessly
scribbled sign on his door warned. This place,
this heart, this parlour of warmth and love,
this refuge.
He looked at all his frames again,
reminded the renovator: No decor. Just plain.


Sunday, November 25, 2012



(For the Children of Ishinomake)

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;/ The worlds revolve like ancient women/ Gathering fuel in vacant lots.---T. S. Eliot, “Preludes”, Collected Poems 1909-1935

Debris around the empty schoolhouse
have been cleared, gathered into motley
piles neatly lined on where the road was
before that too crumbled with village
life; only the old women stayed longer
than any of the taut-jawed rescuers now
back in cities where Ishinomaki is just a
dot in the grids pressed upon the brittle
maps. The temblor and the tsunami
are still everything to them: raw feelings,
ceaseless nightmares of weeping men
picking up limp bodies of children dug
out of the rubble, still tightly clutching
their shredded books and broken crayon.

Their gnarled fingers and weary faces
stick out like bookmarks at the last light
of sundown, clipped between pages of rags
flapping in the uncertain weather, while
they move in little circles like crayfish
clambering over what remains of the yard
that once teemed with laughing children;
they would stop to talk over the muffled
rumble of the excavators, and bend quickly
to glean more rubbish or gather briefly
to touch and bless a tear from a blouse or
a piece from a muddied shirt they would
gently put away in their bamboo baskets.

Other times, other seasons, they would
be here picking up ripped twigs dried
on the banks of the river at the foot of the
hill, fuel for the vats of the sweetened
yams they would boil to regale the boys
and girls gathered around them at school
break, laughing as raucously as the wee
urchins, while wiping their caramelled
lips with shawls they would wrap their
heads with when they walk down the hill,
to wait for another daybreak of fuel
picking, praying for a kinder season. Soon.



Saturday, November 24, 2012



Where is the other world?
Why is it the other world?
Sounds like a spare tire,
doesn’t it? Don’t worry.
Blow your chances here,
and you will get another.
It is a quick visit anyway,
you would not regret it.
It is the ration store across
the abandoned churchyard.
You will even find an extra
heart there, when yours
turns callous and blind to
all that it was made for.

Was it for love? Don’t worry,
there’s an overstock of that
in the other world. That is
what is in that other world.

Is that not what Good Friday
is all about? God took back
His son, and hoarded it there
in his unreachable warehouse,
beyond the magic of flowers
and the ardor of ardent caress,
because our vouchers would
not guarantee enough supply
just as it always ran out here,
when kindness and courage
were all we needed to protect
the world we know would take
us when no one wants to pick
us up from where we have fallen.

Where we have fallen, where
we could no longer get up from,
why not have another world
instead, then rest in peace at last?



Friday, November 23, 2012




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, “Little Gidding”, Four Quartets


By the time we got back,
the river had run dry.
Did we not plant stones
here to mark how far we
could swing on the vines
before springing naked
into the murky mudpool
to swim with the carabaos? 

Look, the boulder of hearts
is still there—with names
of the little boys who died
stealing unhusked corn
from the bursting granary
of the only farmer in town. 

Before hanging himself
from the barn’s only rafter,
he singed the bales of rice
and hay covering the sacks
where they hid, giggling
as they watched maestra
wrap her clean legs around
their math teacher’s waist,
and cried endlessly for god
or gods, for she felt good. 


The fire ate them all, lads
still convulsing, teachers
still locked and quivering,
tubercular farmer dangling. 

If the river were still here,
it would roar with stories:
the boy who survived, he
became the town mayor,
and he had the river bend
away to parch that farm
and plant the rock naming
it The Hardest Monument
for lads who still guffaw
when comparing versions
of that tale about the boys
burning while their eyes
melted popping, and their
cheating mentors rolling
on the hay, while farmer
firebug swung his cuckold
heart away watching his
unhusked corn stock move
and his piles of hay tumble
pell-mell amid entreaties
to the gods to make those
burning moments last. 

Rain caught us munching
corn from the burnt cob
at the corner store ran by
the farmer’s orphaned girl
who kept laughing at our
raunchy tattle-tales of fire
and monuments to tickled
voyeurs watching lovers burn. 

Like old men in empty spaces,
we come back here to laugh
at what meaning we could
gather from our beginnings.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012



How much truth is there in wooing?
I shall but love thee after death? 

When they are earnest, are they true?
How much more hyperbole is needed  

before protested passion turns false,
as urgent only as desire must be sated?  

Quite like a mirage, what is seen now
is unseen on the other side of a wall:  

everything can become nothing here.
They were never there to start with.  

What then is reality? Why even accept
that either one is true or it is false?  

The long shadow at sundown is there
on the porch wall, but is it also dread?  

It is a magic scarcely accepted or used.
Being here assumes not being there  

but has always been a place where
things cannot be here or there without  

your insistence that these are true
or false because you are there to name  

them what they may be or why, as you
have always done since you ran away  

from home to flex newfound power
to call false true and true false, and let  

things live or die where they may,

because you assigned them that meaning. 

---Albert B. Casuga


*Even when things are true or false, they are true and false. (True or False)---Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 03-07-12