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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.

Thursday, July 26, 2012



For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business/ ...Love is  most nearly itself/ Where here and now cease to matter./ Old men ought to be explorers/ Here and there does not matter/ We must be still and still moving/ Into another intensity...From “East Coker, The Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

Because we could not hold on to love
As it must be held, given pure and free,
We can only try to find what is most
Nearly itself, until we get to a still point.

Time does not define where that may be,
But it must linger in the mother’s breasts,
When she suckles her infant into a life
Where there is nothing but uncertainty.

How precariously certain is this mock-up
Of staying alive when it is impermanence
That most resembles it? A will-o’-the-wisp
Or a cruel mirage hounds us, it is there

But not here. Why love then, or live at all?
When uncertain weather is most certain,
Why dare fritter precious lifetime on this
Uncharted clearing? It is our yoke to try.

We will perish trying, measure dying by
How true our exploring must be, we
Cannot stop, we simply move into another
Space, with flaming eagerness or anger.

---Albert B. Casuga



 I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep it
Since what is kept must be adulterated?—T.S. Eliot, Gerontion

 What could I tell you after all that was said?
 Nothing could be taken back, nothing offered.
 The passion I thought I had is an old saw---
 It would not, could not cut through the years
 That have turned into whorled cores in a tree
 Cut down in the harvest of logs, a clearing

 That will not grow again. Will not be here again.
 Dry timber in a forest fire.

—Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.---From “Gerontion” by T.S. Eliot

Come out of the garden,
we will need to redeem
this wasted lifetime of
frozen acts and dreams.

How can we relive what
never lived beyond that?
Where is it now, or when?
Why should we even care?

There was a time when
it was good to sing songs,
and sounds made sense.
The songs are cackles now.

Why should I even rise
from a sleep I never had?

---Albert B. Casuga

Monday, July 23, 2012



Who pays heed anymore? Three birds in succession thunk against the glass. Which/ one is pursuer, which pursued? Danger and excitement. Dance at full throttle.---From “Throttle Ghazal” Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-19-12

One way or the other, we will get out to get in.
There are no borders here, nor limits, no doors
To slam. I am my own clay, brittle now, but I
Will mould myself any which way, I am pleased
To behold as my own creation, not in the image
Of someone who chooses to be absent or gone.

But who cares anymore? There are no measures
Nor beats I must march by, breathe by. I am free,
Am I not, to perish any which way I live or err?
Like my own moulder, shape or reshape my face
The way I want to meet all the same faces I meet,
And I will be my own healer, my last and final god.

Idle now, I am meant to dance at full throttle.
One way or the other, I will get in before I get out.

---Albert B. Casuga

Thursday, July 19, 2012



How do we know/ what now is /if it’s always passing/ through us/ before we can get a good/ grip on it. ---From “What Do You Have in That Headlock”, Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 07-18-12

What good is a brilliant question,
If it could not be answered now?

Of what use is an inchoate answer,
That begs the essential question?

It is the cat catching its tail, a snake
Swallowing itself, it is the circle
That will not break, a spinning gyre
Spitting back unanswered riddles.

Is not time past after all the now
We worry an answer for? Is it time

To be anxious for, when tomorrow
Has not gone past the hurdle Now?

A condemnation by circuit pulses,
Is always an unanswered curse.

That is precisely the imprecision
That presides over the fate of man

Who must answer for a finitude
He did not want nor grovelled for.

Why must time past be time future,
When there is no now save a passing

Passion for all that looks beautiful
For just a little while, a vanishing

Vision---a grand mansion of thought,
A perishing still point, a broken
Promise of eternity he cannot know,
Nor understand for its briefness?

He will ask all the bright questions,
But they cannot be answered now.

---Albert B. Casuga


Wednesday, July 18, 2012



He will find what he has not spent of his life
like a distant thunder. It has lost its rumble
before crawling across dark clouds with a hint
of a lightning. No jolt here, no surprises. Nil.

Quite like a deus ex machina in a pulp piece
that lends itself into a silent film where she
screams for her knight in shining armour
to save her from a berserk Kingkong, but all
it ends with is that silent scream, a Munch
finis that starts all illusions to remake, if he
could beg for another run around the floor,
and redeem a wasted lifetime of frozen acts.

—Albert B. Casuga

Prompt: Distant thunder. A black ichneumon wasp walks circles on the porch floor, its wings flickering jerkily like images in a silent film.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 07-18-12

Tuesday, July 17, 2012



A Tug on His Line

Its tug on his string said it all. Weak.
Floating with the lilies is not its idea
of being a fish, but it’s a good catch.

The Sunflower

As faith would have it, she is loyal to the scorcher.
She moves her face
for her hoard of warm caress,
Until  he singes all that is tinder dry in the woods
Where she would find herself the first to perish by fire.

—Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, July 14, 2012



We’ll remember this as the summer of swiftest change: how we walked, mornings and evenings, past fences overgrown with wisteria— their opulent scent already balanced on the rim of decay.---From “What We’ll Remember” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-14-12

 Summers at the City of Pines, Baguio of my youth,
 saw us picking up tennis balls at Camp John Hay,
 for the most filthy-mouthed players in memory.

 At my granddaughter’s tennis clinic today, I cracked
 a racket on a young man’s shin for yelling the effing
 word every time he failed to return an effing ball.

 Why do we remember anger longer than any earth-
 shaking event? The god particle discovery by savants
 lasted a only a week. Who cares about the goddamn

 particle? The slaughter of children, women, the old
 who could not outrace bullets in Syria, Kabul, Libya,
 Kenya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ampatuan, Nigeria—

they are yesterday’s news rehashed every lazy day
thereafter until the copy desk won’t consider these
news enough to pepper papers preferring Tom Cruise

and Katie Holmes’ quickie divorce. Who needs to hear
more murder stories, of mothers and fathers killing
their own babies to hurt each other? Summer news.

Am I any bigger than all these when I did not bother
to attend my mother’s burial, or catch her last call
for me, his firstborn, before she gasped her final breath?

I will remember this summer as the cruelest, heartless
time: I became my most dreaded shadow-self. I could
no longer feel even the pain of my mother’s death.

This summer, I might as well be dead, as dead perhaps
 as I can remember any dying when what remains here
 is a mocking wraith of a man who is no longer human.

—Albert B. Casuga


Friday, July 13, 2012

PRETEND (For Marie at the Pond)


For Marie at the Pond

No such thing/ as a stormless life. --- From “No One Mean Bone” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist

Let us play “pretend”, little one,
And see if you’d keep on wriggling
Out of my abuelo-hold*, a catcher’s
Claim on the whirlwind ball—

Pretend you were coming back
To the undredged pond, your leaf
Pool, a mud pool really with rocks
And trickling water from a pipe.

Pretend the years have gone quickly
Quite like that wild Derecho* storm.
No sense dallying on pure littleness,
Everything grows, as you will.

You will also fly the coop, would you?
Scour the land for peace and quiet.
And happiness, too. You will spend
More time escaping this old man’s

Anxious arms, trembling pair of arms
Wrapped around you, to catch you
If you fell into this murky compost
Pond, and protect you from yourself.

Wriggle out all you can, feisty Marie,
I will be there as long maybe as forever
Warding off all things violent, storms,
Too, even if there is no such thing

As a stormless life. I’ve been there
In its eye, but I have earned the right,
My child, to pretend that I could save
You from all the hurt that lurks here,

A pretend place to find make-believes
Come true, and would not hurt you,
Impatient as you are, ebullient as you
Are, running before you learned to walk.

*abuelo-hold – grandpa’s hold; *Derecho – the recent violent, straight wind storm that wrecked places in Washington, Virginia, and Ohio

---Albert B. Casuga

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Photo by Bobby Wong, Jr., Philippines


There can be joy /in opening the crisper, finding /a third of a sweet potato on /the brink of mold or dessication. /There is still a way to save this.---From “In What World” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist 07-10-12

It is not too late, there is still time.
Time enough to start all over again?

Time enough to peel off rotten edges,
Look new as cankered limbs, hearts

Of darkness lit by flickering starlight.
There will be time, and time to save

Even this hapless piece of wriggling
Worm, this man, this shadow of life

Creeping into sunlit shelters where
Crawling is de rigueur for the tenant

Of this place, this earth, this hole
From whose depths we late emerge

From shall so soon expire to claim
An orbit among the rended remains

Of body and soul and his illusions
Of immortality, his undying atoms.

In what world will we find happiness
Again? In what place, a fresh start?

Like that moldy sweet potato left
In a crisper, there must still be a way

To save it for an evening’s repast
When this hunger gnaws no limits

In this suspected late night diner
And one orders something sweet,

Something filling while we wait
For brighter mornings in this desert.

But if that morning will not come.
What is there to save but saving?

It will be late then. Who will require
Bright days, cloudless skies, or joy?

---Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



(En los tiempos peligrosos, para ti Gabo)*

The yard is dusty, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The chickens have scratched a path from one side to the other...---From “Charmed Life” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-09-12

As dusty as the mind of this viejo, hermana poeta?
The dust is there, siempre, so the learned chickens
could limn the ordinariness of their lives on soil
that has been fertilized by the manure of humans
who write in garbled language adorned by commas
and semi-colons as if their thoughts mattered here.
Some call it verbal diarrhea, I call it constipation.
A condition where the mind is no longer there.

—Albert B. Casuga

*The brother of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Laureate in Literature, has revealed to media that the author has of late been ill with dementia, a mental illness which manifests itself as “a loss of intellectual power.”

This was published in Via Negativa as a response to Norfolk poet Luisa A. Igloria who originally wrote a poem “Charmed Life” in response to a prompt posted by Pennsylvania poet Dave Bonta’s  The Morning Porch.


(Lo siento mucho, Gabo.)

As dusty as the mind of this viejo, hermana poeta?-
The dust is there, siempre, ----------------------------
so the learned chickens---------------------------------
could limn the ordinariness ---------------------------
of their lives on soil-------------------------------------
that has been fertilized ---------------------------------
by the manure of humans------------------------------
who write in garbled language ------------------------
adorned by commas and semi-colons----------------
as if their thoughts mattered here.--------------------
Some call it verbal diarrhea, ---------------------------
I call it constipation,-------------------------------------
a condition where ---------------------------------------
the mind is -----------------------------------------------
no longer -------------------------------------------------

*If intellectual strength is represented by a square (a full and alert mind), this plays on an deographic/ concrete presentation of Gabriel Marquez’s brain being eaten up by loss of intellectual power. Que lastima!

---Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, July 8, 2012




...I plow through each day’s heft and mystery, plant one foot before the other. / Anxious, trembling, the heart’s a poorly paid clerk, racing against the clock./...Let’s you and I walk before nightfall’s murk, ignoring the clock. ---From Mid-Year Ghazal by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa 07-04-12

Here is that time mocking me now: I am mostly careful.
When I walk through empty rooms, I plant one foot
before the other, hoping I have a steady ground to step
upon before rattling cupboard ware to announce fright
before it wraps me into a cocoon of dread and disaster.

Did I learn anything from past wounds? Do I have scars
to show for them? I peep into darkened bedrooms, not
unlike tyro thieves who would not know what lustre
colours precious stones, or which heirloom is worth it all,
I see her toss and turn to quickly hide a tear-stained face.

Oh, that I could take your pounding heartache from you,
my child, and rip it out from where it has stabbed you
unawares and made you bleed all this time, all this time.
If I could bring him back to you that he might sing you
those lullabies he left unsung, I will. But I would die, too.

Yet I would, if you could escape this nightfall gloom
that tears at you like a rabid jackal, a twin to your lizard
on the ceiling that in your nightmares grows huge enough,
serpentine enough, to swallow you into yet another hole
where you dream to see your father bravely rescuing you.

Let’s just walk away from that hole now, he will not come.
Neither you nor I would make for a damsel in distress.

---Albert B. Casuga

Friday, July 6, 2012



In the cool of the morning, I cup my hands to my ears and listen to wind in the grass, the hum of insects, the distant moans of a dove.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 07-05-12

It is indelible. Her skirt billowing in the wind,
the grass grown brown in the heat of summer.
Was she miming some kind of laughter? A shriek?

She ran through the wantonly burnt bushes
downhill, lads whistling for the wind to vault
their kites, the wind rustling a murmur of grass.

He will linger on that hillock to watch a sundown
form long shadows. She will not be there again.
But the distant moan of a dove brings her back

like the hum of that giggling lass, straddling him
to coax a pledge of unfading, flaming, gripping
love though the mountains crumble over them.

They are cool mornings like these that force
quiet sounds to roar like the onset of a rainstorm,
or the echoed lovers’ moans he’d want to run from.

These quiet sounds pursue him now like hounds
scurrying for the hunt. Like ghosts of old memories.
These are the quiet sounds that have turned loud.

—Albert B. Casuga

Thursday, July 5, 2012



All doors open to the wind, the body’s hinges unloosed at the very last: derecho.---From Derecho Ghazal by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-02-12

Derecho! No a mano, ni izquierda! Derecho.*
It is easy driving at that point of no return.

Go right straight into the night. No rights,
nor lefts, it is a one-way boulevard-–it ends.

When it does end, the end becomes a start
of a shadow life–-remembrances, memories.

They are all there is–they are highways
through doors that do not open anymore.

–Albert B. Casuga

*Straight ahead, no rights, nor lefts. Go straight.

Shelf cloud from the developing derecho in Chicago on June 29, 2012.
Image Credit: NWS Meteorologist Samuel Shea

Monday, July 2, 2012



Cierra algunas puertas. No por orgullo, ni soberbia, sino no porque ya no llevan a ninguna parte.---Paulo Coelho.*


How many more doors must he close
before he would know when stillness
has finally found its way to his door?

Doors swivel here and would not stop,
even for the doorman who grumbles
at how endless passages take, rotates

at the touch of dainty hands, the push
of gnarled palms, thrust of a bunioned
foot, or the dithering hold of an arm

by the lover who would rather he had
stayed when going ended up nowhere
anyway, and she merely stifled a plea

for him to stay; but he dreaded staying
because all wanting has finally died,
fervent desires wrinkled on the sheets.


There is just the urgent need now to run
quickly away from the swinging door
that will impale him needlessly to walls

closing down on him even as he spreads
his new-found wings to rise beyond all
this debris of meaning, love’s carrion,

when that is all gone, all abandoned, all
forgotten as just the drivel of cripples
who would not think of shutting doors

whence come the vultures of unfeeling
ennui, numb hearts still beating, still
blubbering about how lonely it will be

before the eager beaks have garroted
their brittle necks straining to grumble
a futile prayer that this visit is too brief.


To even know how to close that last door
when the rainstorms have blown off lids
to protect him when he pleaded to go on?

Too late, he could not stem the rapid swivel
of a door, rotating inexorably to crush him
when he could have eked out and be free.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Close some doors, not because of pride, nor arrogance, but because they no longer lead to anywhere.