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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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012



How hard is it to understand what the heart really wants? The body’s feathered/ with nostalgic veins resembling lines. Listen hard, read between each line. // No, the butterfly exploring your palm with its proboscis isn’t necessarily/ a symbol for anything else. You cannot read too much between the lines. ---“Ghazal, Between the Lines” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 06-28-12

A poverty of language requires reading
between the lines: the eyes cannot see,
nor scents mean anything.  No taste
or touch could jump out of nothing.
A trick, if there is one, is that meaning
cannot mean beyond the compulsions
of a body made for this time only.

Does one learn to understand a heart’s
diction? What words leap out of silence?
Why does one need to listen to whispers
of absence? Why do sounds of sorrow
and madness register the same timbre
where indifference is the sounding board?

Is this why we would rather tolerate poets?
They read and write between the lines,
and could not care less about the simple,
palpable grip of certainty bereft of clarity.
What is clearness if the whole truth hides
behind the unknown here and a dark there?

If meaning could not be found in one place,
here, why do we think we really understand?
Between the lines, we may yet begin to know

that we need to go there to be truly here.

---Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



When you are alone,/ who are you with./... Thinking is a type of/ telling, of tattling./... How much do you hurt/ right now. What if every/ thought we stomped out/ smoldered along our heels./ What might that mean/ for the thoughts we allow/ and how we advertise them,/ would we be fire hydrants/ dribbling image, hoses/ spattering the sidewalk under/ us with undeveloped film.---Hannah Stephenson, “Plus One”, The Storialist, 06-26-12


He came down the hill, the city down there,
finding himself exactly as he was climbing:
Alone. How can he feel like he was with her?

Bored with the blandness of faded roofs,
rusty or mottled with faded paint, like God
must be while gazing down on lost sheep.

A formula for longing. It always works like
the lonely hunter. With a bit of thinking, he
can tattle about global famine, heart and soul.

Before long, answering his own questions
about how she would have liked his songs
that brought the wind, he said: Serenades.


But his thoughts were still flickering ember,
memories flog him more than he remembers.
She was no longer there to gawk at a sunset.

Why can’t being alone also mean loneliness?
How can he be alone when every twig crackles
under his plodding steps like prodded banshees?

Does answering one’s anguished cry for answers
make for a muted banter with a blurred shadow
grown bloated with silence and unreleased air?

How much can one hurt before stomping them
out, before they smoulder into stoves of harm?
Thoughts of a dry season are querulous here.


There is a thin stream sloshing down a gully
downhill, he would stop there, scoop some
Drip, splash it quickly on his cracked, dry lips.

Not the same as the moist on her mouth,
not her face, not her arms, not her body
pinning him on the clay, supinely submitting

to her threats of amour on the hill, and he
conjuring magic out of a monologue where
he answers his own questions. She’s not there.

Lingering remembrances are scenarios
from a silent picture---lips quiver but voices
are squeaks, quiet like undeveloped films.

---Albert B. Casuga

Monday, June 25, 2012


Photo by Jongjong Espanto, San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines


(For My Hometown, San Fernando)

"La muerte no llega con la vejez, sino con el olvido."---Gabriel Garcia Marquez*


How much do I remember of your bay?
What sunsets have faded in my mind?
I scour a gray horizon, and I see gloom.

Yet I am not ready to surrender my hold
on those sundowns I must have hoarded
as time for me to catch you from a perch,

a hillock choked by blazing arbol de fuego,
lining the road down like flamenco dancers
as you feigned fear of descent and I, your

emboldened caballero, held you tightly,
surely, wherever I could snuggle close
to smell the whiff of dried sweat on you.


We will climb that hill again, won’t we?
There is a misplaced pagoda up there now,
a lookout we would have claimed our nook

When you were but a ticklish sweetheart
of a flirt, and I a wild-eyed swain waiting
for some summer breeze to blow your skirt

off your glistening legs moistened by heat
that became your lame excuse to giggle
as you shook my hands off your bare back:

O, they are sticky, you protested coyly then,
but when was the last time we laughed like
innocent lovers hiding from vile mongers

fearful that we could not wrap each other
into trembling arms as we rolled on grass
under the ancient acacia guarding the hill?


I remember. I remember. How could we
have ignored the fury within us? A brave
heart will not forget, will it? Would it?

Here I am, back on the hill, looking at the bay,
answering my own murmured questions. You
would not have remembered anything, anyway.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Death does not arrive with old age, but with oblivion.


Sunday, June 24, 2012



Nothing to do but ride this out, observe: we’re here, we’re here, still here.---From “Passing Storm” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa. 06-22-12

It is never over until we decide to stop.
That tired lady pleaded to magistrates*
that her fight is at an end. End it. 30.

What is writing 30 on a breaking news
Except that that’s how much is known
At this time. There must be something

More behind a story, something before it
To fret about, laugh about, cherish dearly.
Is it foolhardy to consider all dimensions?

We are strong dreams throbbing on loins
Even before we are ready for wounding
In a place not of our making. We suffer.

But what of it? The storm is here. Here
We are; we ride it out because we are still
Here. We are still but not stronger. There.

---Albert B. Casuga

*The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a terminally ill or ineluctably suffering human has the right to an assisted suicide when dying with dignity is one's preeminent consideration or condition. Protesters of this ruling look at it as a potential breeding ground of elderly abuse.

Friday, June 22, 2012



A red admiral butterfly that keeps changing sizes turns out to be two butterflies, wary of each other, wary about perching on my legs.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-21-12

 Changing forms in midair is de rigueur
 for mating mariposas; little wonder they
 attract curious attention about how love
 makes them ape the graceful twists
 of aerialists locked in prurient embrace
 even if they had no feelings for each other.
 It’s when they come closer to my legs
 that they become wary of each other,
 just as I become weary of being alone.
 If they perch on my legs, I would be part
of creation, the one that multiplies, leave
them alone until satiated, they fly elsewhere,
change sizes, and merge again wherever
gardens require them to bring in the worms.

—Albert B. Casuga

Thursday, June 21, 2012



Erasing is not/not drawing,/ just moving/ around what/ you think you/ didn’t mean..../ We can’t get/ blank back,/ just as good as/new but not/ the same as/ before you drew.---From “Removed” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 06-19-12

How efficiently convenient it would have been
if we were born with erasers in both hands:
ones which could quickly rub out anything
irrelevant or inutile to a life made in the stars.

Would one miss the struggle that colours days?
Would one etch a restful stroll under the palms?
How easily could a hammock be hung on walls
when weary of a senseless shift of acts, and rest?

The start and stress of little lives is enough
to wish for all-purpose equipment to work life
out just as we want it. Aren’t we our own masters?
Why let others outside mould our lives inside?

Are we not free to sculpt our haunches, paint our
portraits, pare our own earthen jars, exist as us
regardless of them? Why not use those erasers
to blank out every misstep, every dread, and live?

How conveniently efficient it would have been
had we been able to erase the ineffectual lines
that make us shadows instead of bright forms
exact on the blank sheet we were made to draw on.

---Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



“…turning course of a river that goes curving,/ advances and retreats, goes roundabout,/ arriving forever:”--- Octavio Paz, “Sun Stone”

 What is he looking for? Why does he want?
 Is it the unfinished in him that wants
 to be whole when there is nothing
 to build from: are their dreams there?
 How often do they come true? Do they?

 Or is he perhaps like the river course,
 streamed where water may over stones,
 debris, carcasses, and carrion of the dead,
 forever moving to the mouth of the sea
 always arriving where it will never return.

 Why does he want to return where he
 cannot? The dirt of his tomb is real enough.
 What does he want beyond the hole where
 he will lie dead as dead can be? Her body.

—Albert B. Casuga

Monday, June 18, 2012



(For Sra. Nenita Buenaventura vda. de Casuga + R.I.P.)

The house was/ not falling down/ yet, is still not/ falling down yet. ---From “Scientific Method” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist

Somewhere a white or purple balloon
will get snagged on a branch on its way down,
but not before it has flown among the clouds.
Did you see their glistening faces, Mother?
Did you see their smiles mingle with tears?
How could they help themselves, the flight
could not have been any more enchanting?
There you were among the soaring balloons.
There you were riding the wind to where
you said Father would be and catch him
unawares, except he has looked over you,
and you could not surprise him anymore
than you could when you caught him
dancing with a harlot at that sleazy Poro bar.


A trembling boy then, I dreaded the end,
the crumbling of the home you built with him;
but you dared to adore him more, love him
silly until one day he said no force, no termites,
will destroy the house he built you, and home
will always be at the end of the bend, where
trees are still adorned with snagged kites
that soared no further than their strings
could bring them until they break on twigs
that would look good with broken kites as ribbons.
With you and Father gone, your house has fallen
On slow disrepair, but not your home, wherever
you will find it---that has always been erected
as impregnable castles in our bereaved hearts.

---Albert B. Casuga

(Shown in photo furnished by my niece Dulcinea C. Valenciano of Mother's burial rites are my sister Charito and mother's youngest sibling, Pio "Ping" Buenaventura , releasing their white and purple balloons, after mother's interment in San Fernando City, La Union Province, Philippines, June 14, 2012, beside our father's tomb.)

Friday, June 15, 2012



(Remembering Mother)

"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form." ~ Rumi

Lo siento, mucho. I am sorry. Sympathies,
thoughts, and prayers.
They are staple;
when the loss stings, these do salve pain.

But is sorrow eased somehow by these
when in the gloom, they are only able
to shape and reshape, as only niceties can,

into dread that they will not be there again
when mornings jolt the stricken and unable
into a stream of emptiness, a hollow niche

where totems people the blank memories
that must fill in the gaps like this candle
melts into a candelabra to hide what it can

about the abyss of oblivion, a gaping solace,
when the dead are interred in this dark place?

---Albert B. Casuga

Thursday, June 14, 2012



(For Mother*)

But there is silence now at the phoebe’s nest–-/ the fledglings have flown–-Icarus-like must test/ their wings against the sinews of a summer wind. / Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning? ---From “Gone: A Weaning Song”, A. B. Casuga, 06-10-12

Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning?
It is a cool, bright, and clear but silent morning,

what should move have not, even the gentle breeze
ruffling foliage rampant now on the crowns of trees

seemed to have gone still like the stale pool of mud
that must have caked in the warm night and seized

around the trunk clinging, child-like, on Mother’s
knee wailing: Don’t go! Don’t leave me! Please stay?

But she could not; she has waited for this clear day
to take a trip she must have wished for among others,

all dreams gone stale then, but she must go and meet
Father somehow where he has waited along a street

Where they were to see each other again on a cool day,
Eager to wrap each other in arms that pleaded: Stay!

---Albert B. Casuga

*Nenita Buenaventura Casuga, b. January 11, 1923 , d. June 11, 2012)+ R.I.P.

(Click on Image to Zoom in)

Mother with her children, l-r: Albert, Charito, and Brenda. Daisy, not in photo, is eight years younger than the littlest one here, Charito. (Ca. 1950s)

Sunday, June 10, 2012



A warm morning at last. Waxwings whistle at the tops of the tall locusts, but from the  phoebe nest, only silence: the young have fledged.—Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 06-09-12

 They will discover strength on their wings,
 and, soon enough, they will find the sky,
 and they will abandon these nests to fly
 wherever their questions bring them.

 However wild they are, they will ask them:
 How far is the sun from this burnt branch?
 Will they remain as just one of those things?

 Soon enough, even their needy nesting sound
 will give way to breast-beating flutter of wings,
 and they will surely be gone with the first wind
 that scoops them off from an unsteady home
 of inadvertent chances, and catch-as-catch can.

 But there is silence now at the phoebe’s nest–-
 the fledglings have flown–-Icarus-like must test
 their wings against the sinews of a summer wind.
 Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning?

—Albert B. Casuga


Friday, June 8, 2012



I took a seminar on Heidegger’s Being and Time, which was both maddening and very enjoyable. My little joke is that they got the title wrong--(spoiler alert!); it should read Being = Time (the sequel is, of course, Being on Time). ---Hannah Stephenson, “On Creativity: Time”, The Storialist, 06-08-12

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



 Crush a handful of grass, and still you smell the salt from the sea.---Luisa A. Igloria,    “Pantoum, with Approachng Storm", Via Negativa, 06-05-12

 It will not cease, nor will the smell of grass
 supplant the scent of brine from this sea,
 this angst from a sacrifice that was not worth it.
 I must keep your plate on your side. Keep vigil.

 You will come home, even as a hint of a shadow.
 I will always keep your side of the bed warm,
 however cold you left it. Come in from the storm.
 It will soon be over before you know it. I know.

—Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, June 3, 2012



 If another twig falls in the night,
 as silently as it grew as a sapling
 toward the sky, would that mean
 anything anyway to anyone?
 The graveyard of a fallen tree
 may tell untold stories that stay
 untold until a struggling stray root
 breaks through dry rot and ground
 for yet another flushed cherry tree.
 The inexorable is also axiom here:
 life begins in death in a spun gyre
 twirling into flowers, forever moving.
 Nothing is everything here, but there
 where leaves had once fallen, broken
 twigs spring back as fluttering birds
 twittering on branches like new leaves.

—Albert B. Casuga

This poem was prompted by Dave Bonta's The Morning Porch (06-02-120 "Another of the dead cherry’s limbs broke off in the night, leaving just one more forked limb and a cluster of stumps, scabrous with fungi."

Friday, June 1, 2012



They exchanged kisses like the years never intervened:
A quartet of old hags, except for their reflected seasons
Of grace they ended up chattering about. Remember?

The nun’s child ended up to be a cousin, and more hijada
Coming from concubines of their fathers dutifully ignored
By their genteel mothers. They were all here, laughing
Furtively about how a cousin-librarian literally died of fright
When caught in frenzied embrace with a town alderman
Who promptly perished, too, with a fractured heart, unable
To disentangle himself from the muscle-clamping guardian
Of the shelves whose most intimate loins closed tightly
On him like a book, they had to be buried like bookends.

Family secrets grow on trees here, roots and branches
Rampantly bearing the haves and have-nots.  Remember?

---Albert B. Casuga