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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.

Sunday, April 22, 2012



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

These poems continue the Graffiti Series I started last March. As Poem #22 and Poem #23, they are part of the poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month (April). 

Reposting Graffiti 4 here which I neglected to post in Ambit's Gambit last March. It was published then in on March 27, 2012.


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

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