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, April 30, 2012



Culled from posts written in March to the present, (April 30, at this writing, the last day of National Poetry Month). These poems came about from the daily constitutionals of this writer who stepped into some graffiti sprayed on the park street where he walked. He thought it ended on the walls of the Nursery School and some residents on Glen Erin Trail. Unbeknownst to him earlier, the Voice, Love, Peace led to a quartet of trees sprayed with the words WILL YOU MARRY ME? This, of course, triggered the fictional element in the series where I assign who wrote these graffiti between two lovers.

This series goes through the entire gamut of emotions and thoughts attached to the Easter season, love and rejection, joie de vivre, and just sheer spraying of graffiti to vent pent-up feelings of loneliness or joy, hatred and love, and all that the poet considers his ontological and epistemological realm.

I thought this series would be a fitting finale to my marking National Poetry Month with my poem-a-day project. To my readers, patience, and I hope you would glean the "many splendoured things" that would otherwise be lost in over analysis.

To Facebook friends who sought a narrative thread in the poems and wished to find out how things started and ended, all these seven postings tell of the mystery behind the deciphering of graffiti by the central persona. By all means, inject your own story.

My outstanding plea in these poems, nevertheless, is our children's welfare, and how they remain to be the extensions of our immortality. Suffer not the children, therefore, to strive for happiness. It is the one thing we could give them while they make this brief, brief visit, which, for us, elders will soon be over before we know it.

These are socio-cultural, political, ontological, metaphysical, theological, moral--name it--poems I am scared will in time only be understood by myself, if the good Lord gives up on them. I hope not. Ars longa, vita brevis.

---Albert B. Casuga



...No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice/...Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehoods/ Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still/...Our peace in His will/...And let my cry come unto Thee. ---T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

That would have required a lot of fences,
a lot of denuded trunks, fallen trees even.

You would have to stare at backyards
green with revived spring grass, risking

life and limb. “Is this your graffiti? Is it?”
But the three words I stepped on, walking

on the trail, in dotard cadence: Peace, Love:
they were temple bromides. But Voice?

They were sprawled on the grime, like
drunken derelicts, one did not have to look

but be accosted by their urgent demand
on winding asphalt: Peace. Love. Voice.

Like four-letter words, they surprise one
whose habit is to look down in timorous

gait, troubled by daily lust, greed, and lies
dreading mayhem from a gaze at the sky.

Peace. A span of walls for a five-letter word,
perhaps havoc among the mansion lords

writhing in the spasm of murderous oath:
“Let me not catch the spineless vandal! 

Or heaven forbid, I will sever both his arms
from his bastard shoulders. No piece spared

among his vile fingers. I will pluck his eyes
from their sockets. Paint “PEACE” with blood

oozing from hollowed holes in his crushed
face, across his torso, down to his dirty groin!”

I wonder at my walk’s anguish over the murder
of children, old women, and decrepit men

in the hovels of Kandahar by a calculating
American Marine, Rambo-like, making a target

practice out of frightened children, burning
their lean-to homes, maybe urinating, too,

on corpses like those cut-up Taliban lined up
by YouTubed U.S. soldiers in nasty whoopee.

Is this hurt, after all, not a misplaced dread
that peace is nothing now but a dying dream?

Love.  Like a four-letter word, it could not
have been used nor even abused in Homs

where Syrian fathers, brothers, and armed
kin mowed down children, more children,

dismembered children and all who could not
escape the carnage  at Karm el-Zeitoun to call

down a leader beleaguered by an Arab Spring
blazing like fiery poems as flamethrowers.

“Disarm the shabiba* or arm village defenders.
This is our civil war! “As if war could be civil.

As if love were a filthy four-letter word thrown
at the askance who ask: How could you love

your country when you butcher your lovers
and plead for arming your rebels to wage war?

Voice. Ah, the avant-garde call to general
quarters. From a challenging cry of rebellion,

is it perhaps rapidly withering? Voice your pain.
Occupy! Voice your anger. Occupy! Vox populi

Vox Dei. Occupy! Wall Street, Bay Street, or
even streetcars name Desire. Occupy! Occupy!

From the stupor of a languid walk, one recalls
a Via Dolorosa, a lonely wounded walk up

the Hill of Skulls, a golgotha presides over
a cacophony of voices, noises: Crucify! Crucify?

Is this not, somehow, the direst of oxymorons
when the spread-eagled, nailed, pinioned man

counsels love for neighbours? You will be with
me in paradise; forgive them, they know not

what they do. Yet, did he not shout out his pain:
Father, why have you abandoned me? Why?

The people must have their Voice. It is the Voice
of God. Soon, in the British Parliament, learned

voices will argue why the Crucifix should not
be worn on stewardess’s lapels, or civil servants

yearning for the equivalent of a tolerated turban,
or even a recondite dagger, all symbols of faith.

I step on these words graffitied on the sprung
trail. I mutter: Peace, Love, Voice. I did not fall.

He did, got lashed, mocked. Kicked to stand
with his burden, he insisted on loving even

enemies, even those who cried: Crucify Him!
On my quaint walk through a new spring on

Glen Erin trail, I shrugged the lingering cold off
and whispered: Here is my empty heart. Occupy it.


*Shabiba --- Government thugs



Sudden in a shaft of sunlight/ Even while the dust moves/ There rises the hidden laughter/ Of children in the foliage/ Quick now, here, now, always --/ Ridiculous the waste sad time/ Stretching before and after. --- T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”, Four Quartets.

The whimsy of reading graffiti
for some hidden code or life,
is one good excuse for a walk
through the same sprung trail
of surprise budding and talk
of Peace, Love, Voice: a Frog tale,
on a primrose path not taken
for doses of silence and prayer.

I must have started at the end
where the beginning must be:
one has painted the indelible
marks on a street not unlike
sheets of disturbed foliage still
roiling with absconding wind.
Perhaps it was meant to read:
Voice Love and Peace: Frogs.

Someone, sometime, in the dark,
must have stopped pleading
for the wounded and hapless—
no cries ever get to heaven with
a prayer, nor would tears ever work:
would a scream of graffiti on roads
sound injurious enough for a yelp
of mercy; would a whimper of pain?

While children are being nurtured
on the art of throat-slitting mayhem,
voices abroad are not for love or peace
but for the sheer annoyance of frog-
like croaking: the frogs cry Occupy!
except that this Frog at walk’s end
has occupied a Nursery School’s wall.

Is someone in the dark finally saying,
this look will not welcome slayers
of ceaseless joy, of the brightest look
at being here. The frogs in these
tender throats are defiantly croaking:
love grows here along with origami
and doodles of family picnics; peace
flows freely here among the shared
crayons and the colours of rainbow
graffitied on blank boards. Laughter

Is still the clear language of noiseless
caring, of fondness for what is gentle
and true, and the beautiful. Frogs
voice the peace of love here when
no one does anymore, because they are,
after all the children at play in a small
nursery where the trail ends. Frogs
voice love and peace. Our happy toads.



If you came this way,/ Taking any route, starting from anywhere,/ At any time or at any season,/ It would always be the same: you have to put off/ Sense and notion. – T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”, Four Quartets

You are beautiful! An unlikely graffiti
on the park bench brushed on the seat
and the back slats must shoo parkers
away---a stalker nearby? A pedophile?

Why not a lonely chap who has no one
to say those words to? Why not a lad
too shy to blurt it out to that ingénue?
Why not a happy-feeling litterbug?

You are beautiful should go a long way
into making a homely jogger feel she
could use the stroking, no one would
run a hand over those spindly dry legs.

Why not the kindest guess about mad
men painting nice things in the dark?

---Albert B. Casuga


I am/  going to learn me some joy/  if it is the last thing I ever do. ---Hannah Stephenson, “If It Is the LastThing”, The Storialist, 03-26-12

You have your paintbrush and colours. Paint paradise, and in you go. ---Nikos Kazantzakis


 I will learn me some joy is as good a graffiti
 as any, if I were that roving paintbrush bandit
 doing what plastic surgeons do on old faces.

 Rather than spew mischief and hate on walls
 that could not even cringe about bad spelling,
 why can’t these muffled, lonely night rogues

 take their rainbow mayhem to a bravura end?
 Paint themselves their paradise, walk right in,
 toss a tumbler of brandy, dance a wild whoopee,

 learn from throbbing sunrises and loud sunsets,
 that someone, somewhere beyond the clouds,
 has bested them in this arresting colour game
 of crystals at thaw, verdance in spring, foliage
 paintings at fall, and dry earth in summer sepia.
 There are graffiti artists and there is the Artist

 who has painted himself his haven, entered it,
 hung himself a hammock, hued himself happy,
 and guzzled raindrops washing colour away.

---Albert B. Casuga


1. Reading Graffiti

He thought he read it right, graffiti on his path:
Voice, Love, Peace. Then Frogs on the nursery.

How could he have missed the toboggan hillock,
At the road’s fork as the terminal for those words?

Voice love peace, frogs; frog’s peace love voice:
Reading them coming from or going to the park

Is like reading Braille with stone blind eyes. Try
Intoning them like a soloist’s sol-fa sans sound,

A mute contralto, or mimed oxymoron. Meaning
Flies in the face of urgent pleading. Graffiti must

Yell its halloo, to reach out to all those cavorting
On the grass beyond the asphalt, among the trees

On the children’s hill, (the winter’s peace offering
For lovers of slush and snow). Graffiti must punch

The heart of the numb, scare it into beating again.
Quite like a prima volta, it makes a quick return

To the melody lest it be lost in a rude cacophony
Of inadvertent refrains. Voice love and peace,

Not the vulgar croak of a frog plastered for eyes
And ears to sense on despoiled walls or fences.

2. Re-Reading Graffiti (On Trees)

Because he craved a clear picture of the sunset,
An old man’s attempt at a silent prayer, he took

The challenge of the little hill, trudged to its top,
And found the gentle tale-end of what otherwise

Would have been a jarring sequence of useless
Graffito on the ground or up the walls. Eureka!

Four trunks facing the sun bore the last four
Words that started on the street and cross over

To the footpath of the hill that seemed to echo
With children’s laughter. A quartet of trees like

The praetorians on the Hill, basked with unlikely
Planned graffiti: |WILL| |YOU| |MARRY||ME?|

Lend voice to love and peace. Will you marry me?
Was it a lovesick lad’s supplication? Or a fearful

Girl’s who dreaded the broken troth of a sulking
Swain when told he would make a good father?

At sundown, even the glorious bravura of light
Could not distract him from an unfolding story.

Why would lovers dread the prospect of a child?
He asked the trees absently.  They were silent.

---Albert B. Casuga


Those were her graffiti on the quartet
of trees atop the park hill. He saw them.

Will you marry me? That would have
sounded like a doleful plea. A dare, maybe?

Get those trees to say them. She plotted.
After all, were they not his conspirators

on those sultry nights when they would
giggle at the slightest tickle of twig or cone

on their backs? Be gentle with me, she said.

She is back on the park’s toboggan hillock,
this time with the child he would not have.

Mother, she said, look at how happy they
Are. They are all, all my children now

She could not see their faces from the hill,
but she could make their laughter out

over the din of bells calling them back
to the nursery school her brave girl built.

Be gentle with them, Maestra, she said.

Soltera,* she would introduce herself ,
as she would have described her mother,

except this strong woman in her arms,
looking bravely at the stream of children

toddling behind them, would not admit
to her being alone or lonely. Graffiti on

the quartet of trees have long disappeared
under unforgiving barks. But they are there.

Be gentle with me is a warning, not a plea.

--Albert B. Casuga

*Soltera-- single, alone.

This is Poem #25 in my poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month (April)




She is back on the park’s toboggan hillock, / this time with the child he would not have. ---Graffiti 6, Triptych (Blog Series)


was never meant  for those happy children
toddling behind her whistling like the pied piper.

That sultry night on the hilltop, she whispered:
You will make a good father. I carry your child.

How? Why? We were careful. We had Trojan!
Did you not use the morning-after pill I gave you?

Rather frenziedly, he slalomed down the hill
on his bare belly like a frothing madman. No!

No! He whined. I am leaving for Harvard soon!
Left alone on the darkened hillock, she called
out to him:  Will you marry me?  The night
quickly swallowed him, even as he sprayed
FROGS! on the nursery school’s walls. FROGS!
On the hill, she said, her frog test was positive.

Tracing the beginning and end of graffiti
on his path, the old man said:
Voice, Love,
Peace. Why should it end in Frogs on a nursery

Had he seen the quartet of trees with the tale-
end of those street graffiti, Will you marry me?
he would have guessed Frogs was never for those
happy children toddling behind her, a pied piper.

Nor would he have thought this bedraggled tramp
selling him condoms and contraceptive morning-
afters knew what on earth he was babbling when
he said:
Frogs croak in positive frog tests because
they are toads that kill all lust, all love, all life
You wanna buy protection on that hill, old chappie?
I knocked a girl up there one night. I got off. Pills?

---Albert B. Casuga

These are the final poems, Poem #30 and #31 in my poem-a-day project to mark the National Poetry Month (April). It is also the final graffiti poem (Graffiti Poems 1 to 7) that unravels the mystery behind graffiti on the path of a stroller that ends on a quartet of trees on top of a toboggan hill which he mistakenly thought to terminate on the walls of a nursery school. Some poet friends thought it would be interesting to follow the narrative thread behind the Graffiti poems. This accommodates their requests. ---ABC



You wanna buy protection on that hill, old chappie?/ I knocked a girl up there one night. I got off. Pills?
---Graffiti 7: Frogs and Why (from the Graffiti Series)

1.  Bench Talk

He chatted him up when the slurring hobo
with the Rudolf nose promoted his prurient
ware: Trojans, Depo-Provera, morning-afters?
Demurring, he said, his loins no longer work.

Is why you walk everrrydeh, eh? The sales
pitch suddenly sounded frightening to him.
It has been some time, since primeval tugs
like those hinted by the tramp urged him.

He did not mind sharing his bench with those
lipstick ad-graffiti-mantra: You are beautiful.
About the girl, he said, she bore my baby. Eees
why I prowl here often. I see her go uppphilll.

And my babbbbeee, sssheee is headmaster
Of a nursery school, there. Lots of frogs there.

2. Taking Down Notes

Why not? He said, it will be part of my notes.
The Tramp. Sounds Chaplinesque. But how?
He talks to himself when caught wordless
and unable to sustain decent conversation.

The dotard syndrome, he reminded himself.
It was the Sidney Poitier-look-a-like cop
asking him if he saw anything suspicious
around this stiff  corpse of a neatly-dressed

man, red jacket, white shirt, faded blue jeans,
the stuff he remembered to give him when last
they sat on that bench. He said he liked Dean.
James Dean was my  faaavvvooorrrittt guy.

Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, East of Eden,
they almost had an a cappella. A la prochaine.

3. Death on a Bench

French for ‘later ol’ chap, he said that last time.
Now this death on the bench. There was a freshly
sprayed arrow next to the bench beauty jibe.
Sir, Sir? Do you hear me? Do you know this man?

It was the policeman again, now insistent that I
pay attention; look at the baton, I muttered. Yes.
and No. I see him peddle weed, condoms, pills,
around here. He was a graduate of Harvard!

His last word jolted him. Why did he end this way?
In their penultimate bench-talk, the stiff, clean-
shaven man said he lost everything. His old folks,
his mansion, his millions, he got into the slammer

for badly invested ponzi-scam money bled out
of pensioners, seniors, his parents even. Ha-vard!

 4. His Story

 I tried to see her, plead with her, showed her my
bank account, I proposed to her again and again.
All she said was to be “gentle with me”, and I
thought she might forgive me. Yes, she said, she did.

It was the headmaster lady with the nursery school
who said not to see her mother again. Ever.  Savvy?
So I came to this toboggan hill every day, espying
from a distance. Every stroller with a cane was her.

But I did not forget, she told me finally, peremptory
in her tone, I am happy now, my friend, I am good.
Estoy tan llena de alegria para estar enamorado
Contigo de nuevo. Too late, my friend. Nunca jamas!*

Absently, he gingerly climbed in the direction of the
bench arrow: Seven trees with the saddest graffiti.

5. Seven Graffiti Trees

“Will| You| Marry| Me?|” and “|Be| My| Wife?|”
They formed a coven of seven pine trees, sprayed
barks on their trunks, looking hoary in the late
blaze at sundown. Downhill, children’s ditties echoed.

Sir. Listen to me, Sir. Sidney Portier called out now.
You will have to give me your home address, phone
number, and show me an ID, right now. Please?
He arched an eyebrow, and said: In a minute, sir.

He thought he sounded unctuous like Peter O’Toole’s
Don Quixote de La Mancha. Under his breath now,
he gobbled: I will be glad to write a novella about him,
and his lost life and loves. Pentecostal, it dawned on him.

Those last three trees on the toboggan hill were his last
graffiti: Will you be my wife? But he died. The bastard.

6.  A Sylvan Prayer

He came down the hillock with a weary smile for Poitier.
His hobo was being bundled then into a wailing ambulance.
Bring me to wherever they bring his ice-cold, rock-hard
carrion, and I will tell you all I know in your cop car, son.

Before he entered the annoyingly blinking (G.I.)* police car,
he looked at the hill rather tiredly; there were children
gawking at this weird bier-ceremony, two women herding
them, a handsome lady with a cane, and a fetching woman

crying havoc to the nattering, wondering, puling, yelling,
little children. She ordered: Back to the nursery. Now!
He gently refused the protective palm of the black cop
covering his bald pate; he charged Quixote-like into the car.

Sir, what did you say? Poitier asked impatiently. Praying,
he said. Praying she will never see the seven trees again.

05-04-12/ 05-05-12
Mississauga, Ontario

Estoy tan llena de alegria para estar enamorado/ Contigo de nuevo. Too late, my friend. Nunca jamas!*---I am so full of joy to be in love with you again. Too late, my friend.  Never ever again. (G.I.) – government issue.

This concludes the fictional element in my Graffiti  Poems which I posted earlier in my literary blog. I am delighted to have gone back to that hillock to find an additional graffiti “Be My Wife” on the seven pine trees atop the toboggan hill at Glen Erin Park, on my neighbourhood on Fifth Line West, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Next: Photos of the Graffiti prompts. (New fangled cell phone cameras permitting.)

These are May Poems #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, and #12 in my poem-a-day exercise to keep Poetry alive online. “Sonnets manqué,” because they use the 14-line format sans the rhymes in the first three quatrains and the “volta” couplet as a final strophe.---ABC



When I culled the Graffiti Poems together (Graffiti Poems 1-8) for the final day of the National Poetry Month (April), I was asked by Ohio poet Hannah Stephenson if I took pictures of the graffiti that triggered these group of poems (about 24 of them).

I went back to the Glen Erin Park near my home at Fifth Line West, Mississauga, and found these graffiti still legible on the pathway, walls, and trees they were sprayed on. It is a bonus from my daily walks (mandatory constitutional after my heart was fixed with a pig's valve some 9 years ago).

I admit I am not half as skilled as a photographer than a writer (poet), so I must apologize for these photos. Besides, using these digital cameras daunt me like the dotard technological dinosaur. I did some fixing on the gallery because the pictures were over exposed (sun was still blazing at 5 p.m.).

The Pictures

"Voice" was the first graffiti on the pathway a hundred yards from the entrance to the park. Voice what?

Next, after another 50 yards or so, came "Love". I was intrigued from the beginning with its start---Voice, that reminded me of the popular and recent "Occupy" mantra.

After another 50 yards, "Peace" was sprayed near a garbage drum. The "communicator" is definitely trying to say something "dramatic", I convinced myself. Curiousity getting the better of me, I followed the direction of these graffiti.

A short distance thereafter, I saw the first park bench sprayed with "You Are Beautiful". A poem started germinating in my mind. A story of someone pleading for his love and asking for peace, and cajoling with "you are beautiful" teased my busybody yarn-spinner mind no end.

Atop a toboggan hill overlooking a Nursery School, at its ascending slope, these two trees were sprayed with the words "WILL YOU".

The topmost tree right smack in the middle of the hillock was the word "WIFE". Somebody has found a new way of proposing, I assured myself of a poetry prompt to end all prompts.

My camera could not pickup the two words here on these trees on the back slope going back to the pathway on the east. "BE MY" were painted on these two.

The word YOU is clear on this fifth tree. And on the last two trees on the northwest slope of the hill (see below) were the faded  words MARRY ME? (This was the graffiti seen earlier by this writer on his first ascent on the hill. That time, I made out the words: WILL YOU MARRY ME?

My subsequent climb revealed a new addition. From the first five trees sprayed with graffiti, there were now seven marked trees. The last two on the topmost promontory, were BE MY WIFE? I gathered there was a new message: WILL YOU BE MY WIFE? A more recent, a relatively more distinct spray. Two messages then? The first was WILL YOU MARRY ME? The last, using some words from the earlier trees, had to be WILL YOU BE MY WIFE/

I put on an extra hat here. My Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson alter egos insisted on a mystery here. Hence. the fictional element of my Graffti narrative which featured an impregnated lover pleading, WILL YOU MARRY ME? But I suspected, these plea must have come from a proposing lover. But the recent WILL YOU BE MY WIFE? had to come from the swain. Could he have absconded earlier when he knew about a positive "Frog Test" (which introduced the word FROGS in some of the Graffiti poems) painted on a nursery school downhill. He ran off to pursue his ambitions, and ran away from a responsibility to be a father and lover?

The abandoned lover, the pleading girl who asked WILL YOU MARRY ME?, goes it alone, bravely. Raised her child who becomes the headmaster (no gender adjustment here for a female) of a nursery school. And the rest is spread throughout the Graffiti Poems which I chose to end with a vengeful denouement which showed the absconding impregnator making it through Harvard but descends into the depths of a fraud that ruined him, lost his inherited wealth, got him jailed, and now a tramp, a homeless peddler of drugs and condoms, a wasted man, a defeated man who finally dies on that park bench where he must have written his first YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL bench graffiti and his last WILL YOU BE MY WIFE? after all the years, and he needed to be loved.

Too late the Graffiti. He dies. A stiff corpse on the bench in Graffiti 8. Just as he tried to redeem himself with that last graffiti WILL YOU BE MY WIFE? he croaks. The poem's persona says: "He is dead. The bastard."

Now, I have done two things. I wrote a narrative poem with a a hoary lover story/jilted lover/vengeful lover/repentant lover/lost love/ad nauseam thread, and used all types of poetic equipment from the Sonnet to the aubade, to the lyric, to all that poetry can throw on something that "may still be readable" in the slowly-dying literary art of poetry.

I trust I contributed to poetry's resuscitation. May it continue to be vibrant. In the last NaPoMo, I know I am not alone in this dream that is devoutly to be wished.

Nevertheless, much ado about graffiti? Why not? It is the primitive form of Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet.

It might be a good project to start talking about how a poem comes about if prose keeps on invading poetry anyway.

These poems are dedicated to my wife, Lourdes Veronica Lim-Casuga and my Mother, Nenita Buenaventura Vda. de Casuga.


@ Copyright, 2012 Ontario, Canada

Requests for publication of these in a collection may be sent to the author's email: or

Sunday, April 29, 2012



 Fragments of sky are still visible behind the haze of new leaves. The cattails are shedding;  tufts of down drift by. That Sunday silence.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 04-29-12

  It’s been some time since I heard that Sunday silence.
 Grandfather saw me tiptoeing away from his chair,
 his eyes half-closed, I suspect now, and he called out
 weakly, but that sounded like thunder to me then.
 Ven aqui, hijo. I had to toddle to his rocking chair,
 having been caught sneaking into the kitchen where
 grandmother grated coconut flesh from its shell.
 He stroked my head, closed his eyes, said nothing.

 One other Sunday, at the hospice, I must have roused
 the bejesus out of the elderly residents when I puled
 like that little boy again, seeing my wan Father in bed,
 a bedpan half-filled with cathetered urine on a chair
 where the harried attendant must have left it absently
 when he prowled for someone to lift this limp man
 up so he could fulfill his sporadic ablutions. Silence.
 He rasped: Go home, you are drunk. Don’t scare us.

 It’s another silent Sunday. I stoop out of bed, look out
 to a fragment of sky beyond the finally sprung leaves,
 and feel like a thousand more years than my sixty-nine.
 Someone from the kitchen said it was my birthday.

—Albert B. Casuga

This is Poem #29 in my poem-a-day project to celebrate National Poetry Month (April 2012). A birthday poem.