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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, September 30, 2012




Giving up on giving up is a better choice,
when being sensible and clear are futile.
Words would lose meaning, ours will not.  

Where you see a vine leading its tendrils
up to a broken branch shedding a last leaf,
you make me see its undulant plummet  

to the parched pond mottled by blackened
and brittle leaves long dead even before
the end of this long hot summer. It is real.  

Is this not our faultless way of knowing
what we pretend to know when we can
no longer see the dancer from the dance? 

Would not the falling of that lonely leaf
trace the slower climb of a clinging vine?
Like seeing both sides of the wall at once. 

---Albert B. Casuga


Thursday, September 27, 2012



A ruckus of wind behind the trees
roils the primrose trail and startles
the wayward doe. A dull grey sky
looms as a late sundown darkens
the path where we said we would be:

a rendezvous by the quiet bluffs
where we would have seen the sun
set as we always do, but the overcast
sky is a crowd of clouds now, we
could barely see the crinkled yellow
leaf float like wafted cotton to damp
rocks below, taking forever. Like us. 

The autumn of our years, we whisper.
A gust whistles an eerie trace of air:
It is cold. I took time hugging you. 







We go in and out of the chambers of grace
and afflictions in the heart of things at our
own peril. These are houses we scarcely know

but before long we think we have known,
and cried at every mention of how things were
in those days in those houses where we grew.

We have known them all: the familiar songs,
the loves gone by, the pains forgiven, the hurts
that linger, and all that has touched us we now

want to touch, maybe not with caressing hands
but certainly with steady and soulful embraces
that know how to let go when things must go.

We have known them all already, we have touched
them all. With each touch we have learned to pray.

—Albert B. Casuga


Sunday, September 23, 2012



There are no steel bars here constricting enough
to fence me in-- I am already there, my own
gaoler, and, if I am not mindful, my own hangman.  

How long will it take before all discarded days
turn into ghouls on an unforgiving watch
for the quickest demolition of my soul? Not long? 

I put up my sandbags to stem floodtides of despair,
but these become the dams ready to burst
upon me, drowning me in whirlpools of loneliness.

Why should anyone even chatter about faint hope,
when even that is as fragile as a desert mirage?
I have bricked-up chambers of routine. What habits?

When pushed against walls, I fight back with feral
outrage; when stabbed with lies and betrayal,
should I not twist the blades deeper with the twin?  

A fool’s lex talionis does not work half as well here,
I do better with a limp shrug, a Judas-kiss,
I flutter with the wind wherever it blows. Whenever.  

I would not call a spade a shovel, nor flatter idiots
with obfuscating euphemistic euphuisms, (sic)
no one bleeds for maladies like mentally challenged.  

Too little life left for these misplaced kindness, too;
too much lifetime wasted on prancing shadows
posturing as the real deal. The one true deal is here.  

A silent revelry marks this mute’s free incarceration:
I am true to myself. I have an affair with myself.
I need not even wait. A crapshoot world can. I won’t.  

Would not the aggrieved root of this cold, cold heart
know when waiting is enough? Either way,
enveloped like these lines, there is no exit, no escape. 

---Albert B. Casuga


Tuesday, September 18, 2012



Why do we exist? Why is there something rather than nothing?
--- The question of the ages.

Someone, something, put one over the graffiti Pollocks today:
there’s paint all over the cobbled boulevard, a chiaroscuro
of foliage, a mayhem of hue cutting through dreary treetops,
an assault on the bleakness of a clean well-lighted street,
a rampage of glee gone berserk on a roiled canvas of forest
awash with windswept strokes running riot along walls
of maples and birches and whimpering willows, a cul de sac’s
Sistine vault, Klee’s templegarten, Monet’s pond, aieee.

This fullness of surprise is still our constant wonderment:
what does this arboreal splendour, this arbour’s magic,
change sylvan verdancy for? Why the circus of colours
before autumn’s chill crinkles leaves to brittle brown, black,
or even nothing? What temples rise from the deluge of shades,
what language of grandeur echoes in these ancient retreats?
Or what language of absence befuddles before this death
that crumples something to nothing? This fall, we ask again:
Why is there something rather than nothing?

Something, someone, did one over the city’s graffiti lads today:
someone has painted the rainbow on small palms of leaves.


Monday, September 17, 2012


Feeling rather “old” today, so I culled five poems to grow old by from the archives. Am reposting them before they become passé.

“September…and these few precious days, I will spend with you…these precious days, I will spend with you…” ---From “September Song”

(For Veronica on her Birthday, September 17, 2012)


“Favorite spot,” Nguyen Cao Tran pointed
To the bench on Lincoln Green before
He waved me bonjour the Montreal way.

“Favorite spot for wife and me…drink
Tim Horton Coffee from across,” he winked,
Now unafraid his accent might betray

A Viet Minh rasp from Saigon days,
A shrapnel buried on his nape: “Still smoke
Camel sticks from GI Joe friend in Frisco.”

He looked away when I remembered to ask
About Nguyen Bao. “Isn’t she walking
With you this morning? It’s spring, mon vieux!

He mumbled: “She gone…far away now,”
And shuffled away, his knapsack slung
Like a rifle crooked on his flaccid hand.

A single cup of Roll-up-the-Rim teetered
On the bench the next day while I waited.
No cups on the ground, the bench was naked.


Caminnare. Fare una passeggiata.
Eh, come stai?
She shot back looking askance.
Perched birdlike on her stroller, she inched
Her way to the middle of the cul de sac ---

Where I tarried, a wide wave our ritual,
I called out, Come va, Nonna?
Her andador tilted off the cobbled strada,
She stared blankly, but smiled nonetheless
In the courtly manner she never failed to show
To neighbours and strangers alike.

Her sallow skin becomes her regal face,
I thought, but the same face furrowed,
Her eyebrows arched impatiently then;
She demanded: Are you the police?
Or are you my son with a Florida tan
Hiding as usual from me? I called them
From 2441 because I could not find
My house, nor my keys. Was just walking,
Was just enjoying the sun for once.
Crazy Calabria weather. Rain. Sun. Wind.
Sun. Snow. Cold. Hot. Aiee... who are you?

“2441 is your house, Nonna. And you have
A daughter who will be here tomorrow.
And this is Mississauga. I am Alberto
With the nipotes Chloe and Louie at 2330.”

Aieee...dolce angelo! My angels.
How are they? E come va, amore mio?
Caminare. Fare una passeggiata.
O, com `e bello, O sole bello!
But you will help me find my home,
Won’t you? Won’t you? Amore?
A lilt on her voice, she flirted rather coyly.


Sitting on her Florentine chair
Atop the red-tiled stairs, the sirocco
Breeze playing with her ivory hair,
She awaits her turn to say hello:
A caudillo-like half-raised wave
And a schoolmarm’s smile on her
Waxen face, a smirk at times to save
Her some chagrin falling off a chair
While she wags childlike to say:
Blow a kiss to your window-waving
Girl, say au revoir for now, and pray
That as they grow, won’t stop loving,
And they do grow and go away,
And you’d be left sitting on a chair
Wondering why they have flown
Like swallows, and hope would care
To come back and perch at sundown.


(Para mi Madre)

Los pajaritos están dejando su nido;
el invierno de su vida ha venido
tan muy temprano!

Mira! Mira! Madre mía.

Tan fuerte ahora, sus pájaros
están volando a puertas desconocidas;
están volando tan lejos para que
nunca jamás devolver y quedar en la casa
de corazón triste, ahora casa abandonada,
nida desolada, madre mía.

O mi madre querida!


I just wish your Father would come and take me soon. I am tired,” Mother said and closed her eyes. --- From a Visit to Poro Point, Writer’s Notebook, 2009

The flannel blanket was an armour:
it shielded me through nights I needed you
to defend me against the onslaught of day
when I had to rise to know
that the children were all in bed last night
dreaming their dreams or fleeing nightmares
where flailing they fall from precipices
and you were no longer there to catch them
nor were they there to fall in your arms.

Even the sunrise assails me.

I beg for sunsets now and nights to hide me
from the rush of day when finally I ache to see
them home and you beside me asking
how I made it through my day.

When will you come to take me home?

The flannels have shrunk and, threadbare,
They could no longer keep the intruding light away.

September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012



This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper. ---From “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot

By sundown, they will be gone, like long shadows
on my porch walls. All the fierce singing done,
what remains is the quiet murmur of the bourn.
Its stream will not return, nor will the swallows.  

But while they flitted from tree tops to broken
perches, did they not cry out their bravest songs?
These are our elm trees, these are our willows,
we pieced our homes here together, we roosted.  

At the bluffs, we find the edge of the woods muted
now. Soon, even the cackling gulls will dive a final
swoon, catch the last crayfish lost on boulders left
bare by ebbing tide that must also leave its shore.  

It is troths like these that will not last, nothing
endures. The silence can only become a whimper. 

---Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, September 15, 2012



How far have you gone from all that you were,
little chipped stone from a hidden tributary,
little pebble that has yet to reach the bottom
of the well to hear its thunk and come to rest?

How far, indeed, that you must finally beg
to be taken home? Where, what place, what
troubled spaces have you been all these years?
Bitter years, you say almost in descant candor.

Take you home? But where do you belong?
If I knew, if I could follow that map long
faded in your doleful heart that has dogged
every fickle chord from every pied piper—

If I could find every pied-a-terre you’ve been
that I might collect the shattered life pieces
left of your gypsy heart so I could remould
them to our heart’s desire, I would. I will.

Take you home. Prop you up, start you up
once again from whence you came, where
your heart is not merely a sieve for sorrow
or pain, but where it is a fortress of care.

Trek back to the church belfry and be the deft
hands of the carillonneur you wished you were
when you were young, malleable, and oh, so free
to dream, to laugh, to thumb your little nose

at the carousing lads vaulting over rooftops
to call your name, to sing your name like
perching sparrows lined on some errant wires
at sunset warbling: sweet-sweet, sweet-sweet!

Take me back. Take me back. And we will retrace
those letters carved on some saplings grown tall
beyond our reach, and sing with carillon clangor
those old evening songs, brave songs, love songs.

We will outdo the bellchoir master on the belfry,
ring them all, sing them all, hum them all until
sundown overtakes us and we hold our tremulous
voices like stuttered promises of coming home.

—Albert B. Casuga


Friday, September 14, 2012



Endless visions and revisions
will follow every work of art,
its end is also its beginning.  

A cat straining to catch its tail
to earn its master’s delight?
But that’s not the metaphor. 

When the last image attaches
itself to a final web of moving
yet still pictures on a canvas, 

when the impasto of colours
have shaped the unuttered
angst trembling on the easel,  

when sounds have moulded
sense into a riot of language,
creation is done, work begins.  

Will the poem sing brightly?
Will the painting now speak?
When are they truly finished? 

He shaped a man out of clay
and thought him imperfect,
he needed her to be complete.  

How hard it must be for Him
to watch them destroy what
grows out of their love and loin. 

Yet he was proclaimed good
and perfect among the trees
and the mud dried out of Eden.  

How hurtful it must be for one
to start from the wreckage
of what began from ardent love.

---Albert B. Casuga


Wednesday, September 12, 2012



“You have your paintbrush and colors. Paint Paradise, and in you go.”---Nikos Kazantzakis

It would have to be a clear canvas, and all the walls a limitless
expanse of nothing. Yet. My easel could turn or slide in all
possible directions, my palette a saucer of rainbows. 

These are my terms before I end up in a heaven or hell
not of my own making: that I would be a child again,
wild again, unbridled in conjuring my own quaint realities  

where realities match quicksilver dreams that shape
and reshape themselves however I fancy them; that I
would be free of the shackles of meaning or the ghosts  

of language as their intolerable gaolers in dungeons
where there are no keys nor clanging cell doors to open;
that I would have all the sunrises and all the sunsets 

under my control, and all the days of my life kept neatly
folded in drawers I could open and reopen for change
when I itch from sticky underwear and not have to curse  

the padlocked building laundromat; that I would be free
at last to work at a burgeoning poem or a canvas whenever
I start one and not be constipated to leave it unfinished  

because days would not be long enough, word processors
not fast enough for my careening thoughts that must see
their tail and catch it while running to fill all empty vases  

of lives and loves as meaning of what meanings would
have been if my life meant anything at all. But does it?
Paint your paradise, I am told, and in you go. But I can’t. 

---Albert B. Casuga