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, May 30, 2012



I wake up and wonder how I would spend my day.
 --The widower, a retired Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals

For Choy* and Emily Vasquez, Life Friends

What appeal is available for me? She’s gone ahead,
and I find my mornings difficult to even understand,
let alone plan. She knew the best stripes for my tie. 

Presiding over the fates of men and empires was easy
Enough to sleep through when nights were angry
Snarls against shadows jumping tall to shape a world  

Beyond his ken, beyond his tolerance, an unforgiving
Mélange of smallness and disregard for simple courage
When that is all one needs to make sense of a brief 

Dance of clowns on the circus square wheedling smirks
As the flyers climb slack ropes for an act of deviltry,
An uncanny illusion of what must be done to look alive. 

I look out of sills to find grass suffocating her roses,
and  ask where she kept her trowel so I could do her
gardening while she takes her time to come home. 

If only I could remember where I tucked my slippers,
or get someone to answer my appeal for an answer,
I would be out there in the sun pruning her flowers. 

---Albert B. Casuga
05-30-12 , at Almanza Metropolis

*Retired Philippine Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Conrado Vasquez Jr., and recently deceased wife Emily Gonzalez, dearest friends of fond remembrances.

Thursday, May 17, 2012



To leave an extra plate for one not there:
Mother perfected that ritual when he left.
There was no returning, but what of it?
He will be here at sundown.
"Your father
Is always prompt. The raw dinakdakan
Will spoil if he did not come on time."

She waited, but it took so long. She slept.
Wrapped in her flannel blanket, she knew
She’d have enough warmth for both of them.

A.B. Casuga

Las Pinas City SM Starbucks Cafe

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



The female robin leaves her nest in the cedar and lands at the edge of the driveway, gives herself a thorough shake and takes a shit.---Dave Bonta,The Morning Porch

One day, feminists will learn this good lesson--
Find your nest, fortify it, create all the love
You will ever need, live life with unbridled passion,
Watch the clowns sent in, make your move,
From the heights or depths, learn to defecate
Like the robin, and shake off fears, it's not too late.

On her own, Eve has just begun to reclaim
A paradise lost, occupy it, and must proclaim
Ascendancy not as the rib but as the ribbed staff.

Albert B. Casuga



Shed skin as often as you get burned,
It is a useful shield there, where
The brave and strong still care
To bare what's left of a lesson learned--

That serpent on the tree in the garden
Knew a way out without being broken.

--AlbertB. Casuga
05-15-12 Las Pinas City, Philippines

Written while on holidays. Can't help myself.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Blog Break. Will be back. Bringing notebooks.



What/ are the consequences of luminosity. ---Hannah Stephenson, “Liberties”, The Storialist

On the canvas, still life remains still,
but for the ravages of neglect and time.
For a little while, movement there will
come from light thrown off like mime
from palpable forms that are frozen
inexorably, dictates of chiaroscuro,
ideographic demands, or even unspoken
meaning jutting out of dashed impasto.

Will their narrative then lend them light
like the moon borrows from the sun?
How luminous will faces shine in sunlight?
Will flowers glow, will river streams run?
When these happen, will all the sparkle
Bound by bastidor* speak or mumble?

---Albert B. Casuga


*Bastidor -- frame

Image: Calude Monet's  Still Life

Wednesday, May 9, 2012



Go back the way you came in./ The field will have you back.---Hannah Stephenson, “The Field”, The Storialist, 05-09-12

There, not very far from here, is a clear way
of pointing it out, if you were from there.
But where is it? The field that takes you back
whenever, however you return, if you care.

That one caveat, if you care, how easy is it
to find one good reason to come back when
going back means knowing you were never
expected, nor welcome? Why return broken?

It is another world out there, but is it home?
When you left town, you swore: I will look
back only in anger
. Out there, you ached
for those sundowns when you ran through

the groves, jumped into mud pools, burnt
twigs thrown your way by the village coquette
who promised she will grow old with you, die
in your arms, give you a hundred sons or more.

You even wrote songs for her. Never got sung.
There, not very far from here, lies fallow this
field among the lilies. It will be there for you
whenever, however, you want to lie in it. Again.

---Albert B. Casuga


Tuesday, May 8, 2012



For Guerrilla Comrades

The nape is a natural anchor; dancers
can tell how swiftly rhythmic footwork
become gyrations close enough to know
that she will not fall from his embrace.

This is how it should have always been:
he , being led by her wide steps caught
quickly off by a frenzy of thighs playing
the evening’s tease --- They are yours,

however you want them, if you can
catch them lithely tripping the light
--- she, a laughing  Jezebel,
grown bold with giggles of an ingénue.

What they would give, if they could hold
on to that night they danced, absently
ignoring the high command’s summons
of storming Corregidor* at break of dawn.

He said it would be a brief encounter;
will be back before she digs her fingers
into some rough folds of a dancer’s nape,
and feels a strange tickle on her hands.

I shall keep my night lamp lit all day long,
you know which window to climb through
But the nights never ended, the dance did.
She now idles by her window counting waves.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Corregidor -- Philippine warfront WWII. Readers may simply replace this with any place where guerrilla movements exist. The context is hospitable to all lost love.

Monday, May 7, 2012



Where does spirit live? Inside or outside/  Things remembered, made things, things unmade?/ What came first, the seabird’s cry or the soul?---Seamous Heaney, “A Small Fantasia for W.B.”.

This time, the graffitied trees.---Graffiti Poems

1.  Whippoorwill

Why weep over tired things?
What will happen will not.
What will not, will not. Slings?
Arrows to the heart will hurt,
Love cannot, it will not rot.
Like ripening berry, it’s fruit
On the vine and will not carry
That scent beyond this hill,
Or echo a plea for him to marry
Dread and hope and find it still
Inside your now ruptured heart.
Don’t bother waiting on the sill.
He will fly back. Will he depart?
Maybe, like the whippoorwill.

2. Coming Back

Take my heart, cup it there,
Keep it while it still beats here.
Take my soul, hold it here,
Inside or out, I shall not care.

He sings them now, out of need
But are you there to take heed?
Be gentle with me, you once said,
You have forgiven him, you did.

And yet, and yet, the cut is deep
Like a bedfellow won’t let sleep
Cuddle you. Hush, pitiful (bleep)!
Leave. You weren’t mine to keep.

He walks out into the dead night,
Sits on a bench, and dies. Outright.

3.  A Choir of Trees

Sing we now of star-crossed lovers
Who found our barks and covers

A papyrus of desires and a sad tale
They dare not tell, till all are stale

Spittle on the throat, all unspoken.
Shells of hurt that remain unbroken.

O, let the late spring breeze retell
Our stories, blow it abroad as well,

No need to keep this prickly burden:
A lover afraid of a child, nay children

Of wanton nights on tree-laden hills
Where an embrace or all that spills

Are tears of morning-afters to hedge,
Or simply water pooled under a bridge.

4.  Rage

Sing, sing, tra-la, tra-la. Sing sisters
Of the hill, of that tale of young lovers.
Sing, too, of the dread and the courage
Of things made then unmade. O rage

For all that is beautiful only for a while,
For all that is happy only for a while.
Wherever the wind blows, some stars
Must explode or burst like ugly scars.

Can nights be kinder to one who loves,
And loses? Can days mend like cloves
Cuts that have run deep from arrows
And slings of fortune or dark sorrows?

Sing we now of all the tall shadows
That have left us like treeless meadows?

---Albert B. Casuga

Photo by Jhoanna Cruz and Ricky de Ungria

*Song—short poem meant to be sung.

Sunday, May 6, 2012



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 that I am not half as skilled as a photographer than as a writer (poet), so I must apologize for these photos. Besides, using these digital cameras daunt me like the dotard and technological dinosaur that I am. 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.

Saturday, May 5, 2012



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 he
pay attention; look at the baton, he 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, #12 in my poem-a-day exercise to keep Poetry Alive Online.

Thursday, May 3, 2012



Black sign, gutter-level./ White-lettered, centered,/ CLOSED FOR GOOD..../Squat beige building./ Street number placed /over the door, tastefully.---Hannah Stephenson, For Good”, The Storialist, 05-02-12

The universe is children/  holding ribbons/ skipping in a circle, lifting/ their arms, then/ letting them drop, rings/ of children from/ different families but in/ the same village,/ spinning in opposite directions/towards each other.---Hannah Stephenson, "Life Forms", The Storialist, 05-03-12

1. Closed

After the tsunami, the school
house on the hill is closed.
At the border ration centre,
supplies are gone. It’s closed.
No funds found for a village
orphanage? It will be closed.
Lean-to clinics for refugees
have been torched. Closed.
Mosques sheltering rebels
are collateral war damages.
Places there remain closed.
Even skies close. They’re dry.

2. Open

Elsewhere, in a busier world,
abortion abattoirs open 24-7.
Cathedrals rise with Sabbath
rake-ins, coffers remain open.
Here, infirmaries are business
opportunities, hospitals open
for insurers galore; pharmacies
at every street corner stay open
for motels that endlessly require
pills, rubbers. Banks, too, open
ATMs for gangland transfers
and late night cash. Here is open.

3. Closed for Good

What place was that with a sign
that promised it was closed for
good? Was that the dispensary
for pain killers crushed fine
into dust-looking opiates for
run-away kids? In this church-
going parish, was that dainty
bungalow a village whorehouse?
If the pastor was found castrated
there, why, pray, close it for good?
All things above and below close.
Is that for the common good?

4.  Happy then; now closed

He passed by again to make sure
he had the right house: a chapel
at season’s turn, now it’s foreclosed.
I miss the carousing of the children
singing La Cucaracha under lamps
while they tag each other under
a recondite moon with nary a river.
La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar!
Porque buracha, porque buracha,
Ya no puede caminar.* The street
is dark here and there, the lamps
burnt out, but the crabgrass grow.

---Albert B. Casuga

*La Cucaracha—the cockroach; La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar! Porque boracha, porque boracha, ya no puede caminar!—The cockroach can no longer walk! Because it is drunk, because it is drunk! It can no longer walk! (Old Mexican Band song).

These are May Poems #3, #4, #5, and #6 in my poem-a-day exercise to keep Poetry alive online. These will also be posted in and My Notes Facebook, as well as Pinoy Poetry Circle

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Photo by Bobby Wong, Jr., Philippines


Here come the waves, scrolling their bluegreen pages. The carriage rolls back at each interval:  return, return, return.---Luisa A. Igloria, “Rotary”, Via Negativa, 05-01-12

1. The Imperative

Return. To where? An imperative loses its urgency
when challenged by an aimless interrogative. Huh?

Whence come the gumption of a little boy when he
gives his mother “the lip” at the command: Time out!

Why? What did I do? Don’t you love me anymore?

A triptych of a query, but gets shut down: ‘Coz, I said so.

Thus the impenitent lad goes to his corner, sulks
the better part of the threatening stare of the mother,

but wins the day, when he is told to go wash his hands
and get ready for dinner before father comes home.

Much like the waves scrolling wet pages, they roll back
a carriage of flotsam at ebbtide, return to an open sea

and lose what fury they need to deliver an imperative.
Return. To where? Wherever. Whenever. However.

2.  A Lingering Ache

He traces the trailing colours of the sundown hiss,
And shrugs at the lingering ache twisting in his gut:

He knows there is no going back, when no one there
would no longer care to ask who you are or from where.

There is no old country for him who had left his corner
sullenly injured for dreams that cannot come true or

questions that will never  be answered: Why have you
quickly forgotten me, when all I wish is to return

and be forgiven for wondering if you don’t love me
any more than a prodigal son who still longs for you

But like the waves, she scrolls worn-out pages forever,
and these do not return; unlike the waves, she’ll never

return to an old shore, nor care if the sun rises again
from distant horizons. She locked her doors. She’s certain.

---Albert B. Casuga