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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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



I walk alone in its corridors,
like I am one of the planks,
clean, clear, but cold floors
stretched endlessly, blanks,
empty but will always be full
of the sounds of loneliness:
spoons and forks fall, their
clangour strangely cutting
through the night when
the dinner table is cleared
quietly away, the children
could not make it. Eating
leftovers just isn’t the same
anymore, the leche flan still
golden, caramel and cream
browned on the edges will
harden overnight in a freezer
dear to them as “old geezer.”  

Morning tea on a bare porch
is absently left to cool off
in a squat cup left untouched
on a receiving table now left
trembling from traffic fare
on the rousing old highway.  

Maybe they will call today,
maybe they will still see me
after turkey day. Christmas!
O, will they be here at last?
The cup tinkles, I look away,
a twig has fallen into my cold tea.  

---Albert B. Casuga



Monday, October 29, 2012



If every birth anniversary were a "summing up", how would I sum this life up so far? What criterion would I use? 

I subscribe to one measure -- not by coffee cups nor spoons -- but by how I also disturb a moribund universe whenever I tap my fingers.  

Did I make a difference? Did that pebble I cast in the pond create a ripple that would -- unimpeded -- find itself on myriad shores?  

Mother said I was born in an almost empty hospital (when all the doctors and nurses were ordered to attend the Session Road parade honoring the late Nippon Emperor Hirohito in the Mountain Province city of Baguio in the northern Philippines). In defiance of that edict from the occupying Japanese military government, I lived. 1943 was a good year. 

Have all the years been good thereafter? How often did I disturb the universe?
I borrow lines from poems I have written to spell this measure by:



Halfway, between this riverstone and many rocks after,
Nara shall have gone from our echoes-call.
We have wandered into a sunken mangrove and wonder:
Is it as silent there? Are there crabs there?

Ah, to be old and a mariner come upon that restful cove,
where the final weapon is a chair not love;
to be old is a gallant slouching on that chair –
some porch of the heart grown insensitive to care. 

Nara must be the reverie of a changing season;
we never knew quite well how far we had traveled
before we ceased to chant our rising songs: 

O we have blanched at the rustle of dried leaves
O we have quaked at the fullness of a street’s silence
O we have hushed at the coyness of echoing eves
O we have known the crag flower’s quintessence! 

It is no longer Nara beyond this echo-call.
Where am I? Where are we?
If the morning never becomes an afternoon,
will it always be a waking up into a moment
of disfigured song, a dawn of perpetual clocking? 

I have earned my anger.
I have earned my madness.
I have earned my loneliness.
I have not knelt nor extinguished my brain.

I have positioned my chair where,
when I tap my fingers,
I also disturb the universe.


"Bonne Fête, Grand-père! Cumpleaños feliz, abuelo! Happy Birthday, Gramps! Maligayang Bati, Lolo!" My polyglot family chorused in a cacophony that made my day. When the littlest one wrapped his little arms around my legs, and mumbled "happi bedday, wowo," I knew I have also learned to pray. 

I pray for more moments of love and wisdom. I pray that all those I love will measure their lives according to how they, too, will disturb the universe whenever they tap their fingers.



Repostted from 04/29/09 with minor revisions

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Please click on image to zoom in on Text


However high it goes, it will come down --–
Wrinkled on a branch, its message undelivered.
Harsh spring winds will blow it out of town
Before its whimsy, nay, its prayer is discovered.

Why play crapshoot among the clouds, my boy?
Could God be there, or does he hide elsewhere
Among the stars, or in some bramble being coy
Lest he expose himself as burning bush in fanfare?

Let your balloon fly shorn of its couriered burden
Of finding him sheltered in some unlikely heaven
Where heaven is not — for he never left your side
As you let it go to look for where his miracles abide.




Saturday, October 27, 2012



There must be a little door
that will not end in a room.
Space is all. Is there an end
to these rooms? An exit
into a free space all my own?  

I require a room-less door
to step out of when leaving
would finally mean being
unbound, no walls to fence me
in, no house to shackle a home.  

For what would a sky be for?
Why would suns set over hills?
Suns rise from the edge of seas?
Why do springs expand to falls?
Why is beauty is own excuse?  

Whence come this splendour,
what does it mean for a flower
to bloom? When all questions
have been answered, where
ends he whose end is a question?  

Or are answers simply next door?  

--- Albert B. Casuga


Friday, October 26, 2012




Ahhh…so much mirth with the greening Earth,
so I ordered more rain for the plains of Spain!
Perplexed yet with this morning’s menu?
Hail, rain, sleet, sunshine, winter remnants
are of no moment when I sip my minted tea.

I tap my fingers with the rooftop staccato,
dip my biscuit not once but thrice with brio.
That done, I slide my gafas anteojos down
my schoolmarmish nose to read the paper
rolled like a salami on my morning table.

Unfurled, my gazette of daily mayhem
confirms the slaughter of yet more lads
and lasses in the name of country and god,
of yet more hungry children orphaned
in lands where force majeure trumps
the rule of nature and law, where hurt
and pain are never ever granted furlough.

“Aiee, Dios mio,” I sigh quickly, and drink
my tea before it gets cold. Birds steal
my biscuits, but like the wind-blasted trees,
I droop and execute my dotard shrug.

—Albert B. Casuga


Thursday, October 25, 2012



Chloe had an angel costume, and Louis was disguised as a hamburger, and Marie stayed home doing what she does best: act as the runt and eating all the goodies with camouflaged diapers being her costume. --- Halloween Night

She was dressed like an angel.
She did not have to, and could
have gone trick or treating in
her pink pyjamas, sleep marks
all wrinkled up on her gentle
face, like the blanket creases
tightly wound over her head
to rid the night of bogeymen.

Last year, he was Chewbacca,
why not a hamburger this time?
I said, any which way you go,
my boy, they will see your face,
and leave their Halloween
doors swearing they’ve seen
a King Burger angel wagging,
lettuce and bacon sagging,
cooing rather tremulously:

Trick or Treat, give me
something good to eat!

Roaming the cul-de-sac, my
cherubic tandem would have
looked too good to anyone, but
they’d have to eat their hearts out.

No, the littlest one will watch them
from the windowpane even as she
eats the trick-or-treat chocolates
all by her ghostly self, dressed like
as the baby she is, diapers and all.
She cannot threaten trick or treats,
she can only cry havoc should her
mummy take the loot away!

--- Albert B. Casuga

*All Souls Night

Wednesday, October 24, 2012



When the valley wakes up on Trillium Trail,
the Sarnath lessons will be the hushed song
of the sunrise breeze: these are blossoms
from the other side where the creek turns
blue and the rivers calm: always, always,
in the maze of imprecise feelings, our mudra
shall shape the passion all lovers put to use
when love is beyond saying, beyond ecstasy.

When we wake up to find a harbour of sails,
we must all go their way, touch them to know
that what we have is not our own, nor yet
the place where we shall be but shall not be.
Beyond longing, beyond desire, we will all
wake up to where we are not. Where love is.

—Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



What is it like without sounds?
Would a ululation define grief,
would it simply be the wind’s howl?

The rusty hinge creaking when
her door opens, would that be dull,
even if she had expected a coy call

much like a touch on her cold back,
that she might learn to want again?
Would these woodpeckers be sentinels?

Would lullabies be stark pantomimes?
The ringing of the steeple churchbells,
would they gather us to pray at the hill?

What would it be like, to see, not hear
the rush of a creek stream murmur like
the rhythmic flapping of butterfly wings?

Would there be ardour in an embrace,
release in a muted sigh, an ebbing
in the frenzied flow of fluid love sounds?

Would the wordless silence of a glance
across that crowded room be keener
if there were whispers accompanying it?

Would the sounds of a sunrise make
its bravura brighter, or a silent cockcrow
signal the urgency of a newfound day?

O, that I could see the sounds of silence
and hear the soundless wail of despair!
I would not need to ask these questions.

—Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, October 21, 2012






Toddling among the leaves,
she lets out a shriek only
diving seagulls can make
as they taunt the raucous
fishermen to let some catch
off their bursting nets, share
the joie d’vivre only drunken
sailors home from the seas
are full of. Aieeeeeeeekkkk! 

The darkening sky lets out
a funnel of fall wind, roils
the crackling leaves raked
by these carousing innocents,
and she stumbles on a heap,
swims through the mound
of sienna and fallen foliage,
but her laughter makes him
tremble now, her pensive

Mon dieu, let her laugh, let
the pall of transience pass,
that she may be defiant
with full laughter. Forever.




I’m moved to get down on my knees./ I’m not even sure what is there.---Luisa Igloria, “Rezar”, Via Negativa,

Dark days will always be with us,
but they, too, will pass, like wind
blowing through gloomy rooms: 

look at her fleetingly smile at you
when you hold her to your chest,
the dove-like cooing telling you  

how warm it is to curl into arms
that will always be there to hold
and enfold however cruel days  

become, however bereft of grace
struggling to live becomes. Look
at her gaze at you long enough  

to manage another smile before
she looks away and closes her eyes
to sleep feeling you will be there  

when she opens them again still
singing her a lullaby, her smile
never once leaving her tender face.  

It is when you are moved to get
down on your knees and pray
that, if this were your final day, 

you would still have her cuddled
in your arms smiling at what you
have begun to doubt is still there  

holding us all in his steady palms.


Friday, October 19, 2012




(Grandmother’s Oración)


She would pull us down to our knees
on sundowns like this when dusk
was most gentle, tides ebbed quietly
like a murmured prayer: Oración 

Pray, little ones, He will keep us safe.
Pray that in the dark, we find our way.
Pray that the night will be our blanket.
Pray that the dawn brings back our sun.  

Was it the distinct tremolo on her voice
that makes these echoes of an evening
orison cut through this familiar silence
that has survived brief lives and years?  

Running back to evacuation shelters
in caverns carved through mountains
to hide us from our slit-eyed marauders,
we scurried with gleaned root crop dug 

from scorched soil left ashen in bombed
out farms, but sunsets were her signal
moments when she would stop us dead
from our absconding: Vamos a rezar!

Let us pray! Pray that we get there,
With all our hands, fingers, and feet.
Pray that in the dark we find our way,
Pray that sunrise will be there. Pray!  

Sudden rain on foggy evenings like this,
the power out, brings back the shadows
of that past world. In the dark, I pray
she blesses me with a touch on my back  

and whisper that she, too, is still lifting
her voice to whom it may still concern,
we get to eat the root crop in our bags,
and children in the desert find theirs.  

The war years are gone, but fearsome
havoc promises to catch up with us yet:
I pray the bright clearing in the woods
where a tree has fallen is a place to pray.

---Albert B. Casuga





Mornings wake up with a start here.
From where I find myself brushing up
on counting in Chinese, I sip my tea
as often as a leaf falls, (no abacus handy).
A bright swath of cerulean sky revs up
a quick day—the scurrying of lorries
can only mean winter’s stocking is here.

Happens everytime. Mourning at high
noon, 9/11 families roar back home
to take up where they left off: Cut wood
for fireplaces, jar jam for the fall, clean
the heater filters, deliver the ripened
fruit to the food terminal, take the train
to the bursting schools, harangue nerds
to mind the socio-political situation,
lash out at rabid pols and sleepy solons
to pass an unemployment solution,
maybe consider filing the divorce papers.

A constipatedly harassed truck driver
squeezes an impolite blare from his horn,
yells murder at school bus drivers doing
sixty, sticks his lizard-like tongue at kids
chanting back:
Up yours, up yours! Gay!
Highways shape the taxpayer’s day.
Move on. Move on. Earn an American dream.

I sip my tea with a hint of a shrug; welcome
to the littered porch a yellow leaf landing
with a soft click. The brown one awaits its
turn as the twentieth, except I can’t count
that far in Chinese yet. Aieee…ya! Ni hao.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Order is articulated chaos, its desire
an old rebellion that recalls the loss
of a streamlined paradise. Nothing
is needed here. Everything is given.  

Then, why walk out of this Garden?
A provident Eden where everything
grew including his wanton dreams,
of having his way: orders be damned.  

How simple things would have been.
Each pebble on the pond had a reason
to be there, each star a constellation
of sunlight, each sun a starter of life.  

How serenely flowers would bloom
on the tip of thorns, or water flow
gently from the cracks of dry rocks,
and ripe fruit fall into open mouths.  

Everything can happen here, nothing
is everything there, a cipher is full.
How benignly would mountains rise
from the sea, and lakes from mudpools.  

Would movement have moved this
conspiracy of stillness and creation?
He could not see this, nor feel the pain
of a yanked rib to make a woman cane.  

A yearning rooted in his belly burned,
a lust for roaming the hidden valleys,
finding struggle with fish and grain
a surprising tug on his arms and loins.  

Walking out on a promise of fullness
and unbridled abundance, did he
choose somehow to stand on hindlegs
and see whence came the thunderous  

offer? You who are made in my image,
shall have dominion over all that you
see and taste, all that is still or moves,
or none but the courage to choose.  

He chose to shape his own order out
of the unseen chaos of growth he
occupied East of Eden, and decided:
We will gather ourselves some fig leaves.  

We will make ourselves our own image.