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.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Photo by Guardian Co UK


A cane, bracelets, a phone, these are among the cherished possessions for Syrian refugees, whose names have been changed to protect them.---The Toronto Star, 03-16-13

A Cane

He will make it, no two-hour trek will break him.
At the Iraqi border, at a camp for war refugees,
He looked around for a safe place for his cane,
An unbroken ally propping him up every time
His old knees buckled. Ibrahim, 70, the sentry noted,
Personal property brought: wooden cane. No value.

A Wheelchair

Did you bring anything with you? A soldier asked
Before she could cross into the camp. “Nothing,”
She mumbled. “Only my soul, nothing more.”
And your wheelchair? The registry clerk pointed
To a rusty one. Amir, 24, whispered warily, “Sorry,
I just thought it was part of my body. Sorry. Sorry.”

A Phone

Most important for me, Sir, he said. With this phone
I can catch signals from Syria, talk to my father,
And I will not be alone here. And I also have my family
Here in this mobile. Their pictures are here. Voices,
Too; when we are free again, I will call them, and talk
To my father, my mother, and my brother Yusuf…

A Bouzouki (Syrian String Instrument)

He said his fingers are not too old to play on the bouzouki.
“Only thing I could run away with when they killed my
Neighbours. Most important thing, I play to remind me
Of my homeland. My beloved Syria. As long as I have music
From this, all that I now own in the whole fucking world,
I will find relief for my fears and sorrows. No family. Nothing.”

Bracelets, Not Nancy

Will Maryam, 8, find Nancy back in Damascus? "I left her.
She is the most important thing to me in the whole world.
But these bracelets are second only to Nancy, my doll,
A gift from my brother working in Jordan, I miss him
So very much, but my mother said we must pray to Allah
So I could find Nancy again and show her to my brother."

Iman, 25, Two Boys and the Koran

Ahmed is two, Aishia is one, but this Koran belonged
To my family, grandfather and his father before him.
At this Nizip refugee camp in Turkey, people ask me why
I do not look worried at all, even with my two pillars,
My boys, and a husband at war. Why? I hold the holy book
To my breast, as long as I have it, I am connected to Allah.




Inspired by excerpts of conversations with the refugees published in the Toronto Star with some photographs of these unnamed refugees by Brian Sokol, UNHCR.
Photo by

No comments: