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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013



It would be a murky deluge in reverse,
should these leaves find themselves
rampaging back to quivering branches
like snarling currents breaking through
porous earth to reclaim what is theirs.

But this magical return to shorn foliages
would be a gentler dance with the wind,
quite unlike the clutch of moss and mud
that has turned the hillsides into brackish
blankets of debris and ruptured places.

A mime of frolicking birds prepping up
for a sullen fall robbed of the rain of leaves?
Mirroring the river’s angry repossession
of the land, the large flock of small birds
skitter through the trees like fluttering

leaves returning to trembling branches
that are perhaps askance at playing hosts
once again to fallen comrades that leave
when the leaving is easy, when the dying
is de rigueur, when goodbyes are left unsaid.

—Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Five Poems Celebrating Peace

(For All Those Who Cry for Love and Peace)

By Albert B. Casuga

...No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice/...Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehoods/ Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still/...Our peace in His will/...And let my cry come unto Thee. ---T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”

1. Like four-letter words

That would have required a lot of fences,
a lot of denuded trunks, fallen trees even.
You would have to stare at backyards
green with revived spring grass, risking
life and limb. “Is this your graffiti? Is it?”

But the three words I stepped on, walking
on the trail, in dotard cadence: Peace, Love:
they were temple bromides. But Voice?

They were sprawled on the grime, like
drunken derelicts, one did not have to look
but be accosted by their urgent demand
on winding asphalt: Peace. Love. Voice.

Like four-letter words, they surprise one
whose habit is to look down in timorous
gait, troubled by daily lust, greed, and lies
dreading mayhem from a gaze at the sky.

2. Peace

Peace. A span of walls for a five-letter word,
perhaps havoc among the mansion lords
writhing in the spasm of murderous oath:
“Let me not catch the spineless vandal!
Or heaven forbid, I will sever both his arms
from his bastard shoulders. No piece spared
among his vile fingers. I will pluck his eyes
from their sockets. Paint “PEACE” with blood
oozing from hollowed holes in his crushed
face, across his torso, down to his dirty groin!”

I wonder at my walk’s anguish over the murder
of children, old women, and decrepit men
in the hovels of Kandahar by a calculating
American Marine, Rambo-like, making a target
practice out of frightened children, burning
their lean-to homes, maybe urinating, too,
on corpses like those cut-up Taliban lined up
by YouTubed U.S. soldiers in nasty whoopee.

Is this hurt, after all, not a misplaced dread
that peace is nothing now but a dying dream?

3. Love

Love. Like a four-letter word, it could not
have been used nor even abused in Homs
where Syrian fathers, brothers, and armed
kin mowed down children, more children,
dismembered children and all who could not
escape the carnage at Karm el-Zeitoun to call
down a leader beleaguered by an Arab Spring
blazing like fiery poems as flamethrowers.

“Disarm the shabiba*or arm village defenders.
This is our civil war! “As if war could be civil.
As if love were a filthy four-letter word thrown
at the askance who ask: How could you love
your country when you butcher your lovers
and plead for arming your rebels to wage war?

4. Voice Love and Peace: an Avant-garde Call

Voice. Ah, the avant-garde call to general
quarters. From a challenging cry of rebellion,
is it perhaps rapidly withering? Voice your pain.
Occupy! Voice your anger. Occupy! Vox populi
Vox Dei. Occupy! Wall Street, Bay Street, or
even streetcars named Desire. Occupy! Occupy!

From the stupor of a languid walk, one recalls
a Via Dolorosa, a lonely wounded walk up
the Hill of Skulls, a golgotha presides over
a cacophony of voices, noises: Crucify! Crucify?
Is this not, somehow, the direst of oxymorons
when the spread-eagled, nailed, pinioned man
counsels love for neighbours? You will be with
me in paradise; forgive them, they know not
what they do. Yet, did he not shout out his pain:
Father, why have you abandoned me? Why?
The people must have their Voice. It is the Voice
of God. Soon, in the British Parliament, learned
voices will argue why the Crucifix should not
be worn on stewardess’s lapels, or civil servants
yearning for the equivalent of a tolerated turban,
or even a recondite dagger, all symbols of faith.

5. Graffitied on a Trail when Spring Sprung

I step on these words graffitied on the sprung
trail. I mutter: Peace, Love, Voice. I did not fall.

He did, got lashed, mocked. Kicked to stand
with his burden, he insisted on loving even
enemies, even those who cried: Crucify Him!

On my quaint walk through a new spring on
Glen Erin trail, I shrugged the lingering cold off
and whispered: Here is my empty heart. Occupy it.


Revised July 28, 2013



Saturday, July 27, 2013



(For the short-lived Occupy Movement)

1. Above

Did the wren say “Occupy!”? Sounded like a cackle.
So much depends upon full-throated protests
where no one listens except the panhandlers
looking for the best spots to put their coin pots in.

Did Wall Street listen? Will child labour cease in
Bangladesh? Brave hearts will yell, some get jailed.
Most curse the dark, but would not light candles.
What else is new? That’s what mouths are for, eh?

The wren on top of the dead cherry tree shakes snow
off its wings, skips on to a larger branch, cackles,
and flies off to a garbage bin at the Seniors Home
where even that is sheltered from revisiting snow.

2.  Below

She looked out of her frosted window,
saw the scavenging bird peck a hole
into one of the handsomely-lined bags,
and screamed: get the damn bird off
those garbage bags, shut its cackling up!

The building superintendent looked up
at her, shrugged, and sipped his cold tea.
It is a wren, missus, and it's better off
in the dumpster than on the dead tree.
Better for it to eat dirty than fly hungry.

The wren stayed silent, missus cackled.
Healthy worms wriggled out of the bags.



Friday, July 26, 2013




(After Kathleen Taylor’s KarmaTube@ Presentation on Rethinking the Bucket List, 7-26-13)*

Yearning for the Other Side

When death and dying are lumped together
as “kicking the bucket,” there seems little
reason for a lachrymose ritual that will cost
a lifetime’s nest egg. And yet, and yet.
A send-off at sea is as good as any–one
is flushed off the starboard to become part
of whence life came, or where it ends. Debris.

Do not send for whom the bell tolls, some
tired man holding a ready bucket of waste,
warned the unready, unprepared, or untidy.
Inexorably, inevitably, the bell takes its toll.

Like a confusing game, kicking the bucket
is nothing but a tiresome waiting game.
Let the jasmine bloom where they may,
when they may; no one has yet come back
to say if they, too, were enriched by manure
from the overturned pail, nor say, when the day
the game ends, they had no bucket of waste.


Reposted from my 04-26-12 “Yearning for the Other Side: (Poem #28 to celebrate National Poetry Month.

* @ See more at: (Earlier shared in my FaceBook Newsfeed Status, Courtesy of KarmaTube.



Thursday, July 25, 2013



Because it looked like an unwashed navel,
The penny had no pickers, until he found it.

He said it is either the day’s lucky coin or it
Is a token that his thought was worth one.

First thought: the moth in the sparrow’s
Beak could pass for a small white petal.

Why would that be a strange image?
These windshield defecators scavenge

For wrigglers or anything small and alive,
But flowers? Birds will not prey on beauty,

Random as it may be in this unlikely garden,
They would rather chew on moving things,

Like wrigglers, dumpster maggots, scooped
Dog or cat poop still warm in grocery bags.

Final thought: Why would I prefer to keep
The dirty coin instead of leaving it there?

No choice can be made between a coin
And a petal; I’d have all or nothing at all.

---Albert B. Casuga

Wednesday, July 24, 2013



(For All My Friends of the Feminist Resolve)

Those were her graffiti on the quartet
of trees atop the park hill. He saw them.

Will you marry me? That would have
sounded like a doleful plea. A dare, maybe?

Get those trees to say them. She plotted.
After all, were they not his conspirators

on those sultry nights when they would
giggle at the slightest tickle of twig or cone

on their backs? Be gentle with me, she said.

She is back on the park’s toboggan hillock,
this time with the child he would not have.

Mother, she said, look at how happy they
Are. They are all, all my children now.

She could not see their faces from the hill,
but she could make their laughter out

over the din of bells calling them back
to the nursery school her brave girl built.

Be gentle with them, Maestra, she said.

Soltera,* she would introduce herself ,
as she would have described her mother,

except this strong woman in her arms,
looking bravely at the stream of children

toddling behind them, would not admit
to her being alone or lonely. Graffiti on

the quartet of trees have long disappeared
under unforgiving barks. But they are there.

Be gentle with me is a warning, not a plea.


07-24-13, Mississauga

*Soltera--alone, single.

Monday, July 22, 2013



---On a cruise along Lachine, Quebec.
Today’s  Journal Note for a Play: @ She: “Had I known then, what I know now, that we were too young, and it was just our brimming desire that bound us…  @ He: “But has desire left while we were not looking? In the twilight of our years, I set you free. Our harbour is, after all, not named Regret…and the Streetcar it was on was not even named Desire…” @ Both: After a quick giggle, they fell silent. 07-22-13

The River as mother to the sea entraps us
into this womblike feeling of ease.
She draws us to this discovery of need,
a foregone joy, our quiet helplessness.
We are the river that has run its course
into an engulfment of this restless sea.

How far have we gone away from Nara?
How long have we silently gone astray?
Does the river current come full circle
from the breaking waves of this sea?
Do we meet each other, dreamlike,
in the endless stream of all Lachines?

The river runs full circle, and yet and yet,
we dread we have not even, halfway, met.
When will my currents flow into your rocks,
you distant sea, you entrapment of need?
When do we come back as rivulets
in some warm, some hidden rock spring?

Will we even find an engulfment of ease?
When will the sea create the river?
When will the river create the sea?
Where they meet in the trickle of a stone
garden, who laves the rolling river stones?
Who will lap the greenwood’s shores?

This River’s rush is finally our question:
Did love leave while we were not looking?

Mississauga, On. 07-22-13


Saturday, July 20, 2013


Painting by Salvador Dali


There will be time, there will be time/ To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;/…And time yet for a hundred indecisions…---T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

1. It’s not too Late

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 rent remains

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

2. It Might be Late

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?

3. All Will Be Late

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.


07-20-13 Mississauga

Friday, July 19, 2013



I am/ going to learn me some joy/ if it is the last thing I ever do. ---Hannah Stephenson, “If It Is the Last Thing”, The Storialist, 03-26-12

You have your paintbrush and colours. Paint paradise, and in you go. ---Nikos Kazantzakis

I will learn me some joy is as good a graffiti
as any, if I were that roving paintbrush bandit
doing what plastic surgeons do on old faces.

Rather than spew mischief and hate on walls
that could not even cringe about bad spelling,
why can’t these muffled, lonely night rogues

take their rainbow mayhem to a bravura end?
Paint themselves their paradise, walk right in,
toss a tumbler of brandy, dance a wild whoopee,

learn from throbbing sunrises and loud sunsets,
that someone, somewhere beyond the clouds,
has bested them in this arresting colour game

of crystals at thaw, verdancy in spring, foliage
paintings at fall, and dry earth in summer sepia.
There are graffiti artists and there is the Artist

who has painted himself his haven, entered it,
hung himself a hammock, hued himself happy,
and guzzled raindrops washing colour away.

---Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, July 16, 2013



All he really must do now
is mine those quarries
of memory, like bauxite,

lining the silent boulders
inside burrowing caverns.

They still glisten, these
cracked stones. Briefly.
But he was an innocent lad
from the lowlands then,

he counted them like marbles.

He saw those stones again

on a slow cruise from the city
where, on deck, he could see

the sea and the sky conspire
to eat the sun, a gem still there.

He scoured the lime mountains
in Les Baux; shook a trembling
finger at the source of metals
that shaped the monster planes
that burned his playgrounds.

With downpours of napalm.
When he was young.
But he is old now.
And he is on a dream vacation.



Monday, July 15, 2013



1. Closed

After the tsunami, the school
house on the hill is closed.
At the border ration centre,
supplies are gone. It’s closed.
No funds found for a village
orphanage? It will be closed.
Lean-to clinics for refugees
have been torched. Closed.
Mosques sheltering rebels
are collateral war damages.
Places there remain closed.
Even skies close. They’re dry.

2. Open

Elsewhere, in a busier world,
abortion abattoirs open 24-7.
Cathedrals rise with Sabbath
rake-ins, coffers remain open.
Here, infirmaries are business
opportunities, hospitals open
for insurers galore; pharmacies
at every street corner stay open
for motels that endlessly require
pills, rubbers. Banks, too, open
ATMs for gangland transfers
and late night cash. Here is open.

3. Closed for Good

What place was that with a sign
that promised it was closed for
good? Was that the dispensary
for pain killers crushed fine
into dust-looking opiates for
run-away kids? In this church-
going parish, was that dainty
bungalow a village whorehouse?
If the pastor was found castrated
there, why, pray, close it for good?
He passed by again to make sure
he had the right house: a chapel
at season’s turn, now it’s foreclosed.


4. Happy then; now Closed

He misses the carousing of children
singing La Cucaracha under lamps
while they tag each other under
a darkened moon with nary a river.

La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar!
Porque borracho, porque borracho,
Ya no puede caminar
.* The street
is dark here and there, the lamps
burnt out, but the crabgrass grow.
All things above and below close.
It must be for the common good.



*La Cucaracha—the cockroach; La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar! Porque borracho, porque borracho, ya no puede caminar!—The cockroach can no longer walk! Because it is drunk, because it is drunk! It can no longer walk! (Old Mexican Band song).

Sunday, July 14, 2013



(Six Poems of Lives So Far)

 "We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time."------Little Gidding, Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

" the stillness/ Between two waves of the sea./ Quick now, here, now, always---/A condition of complete simplicity." (Ibid)

Where should I go/ so the wind can reach through me,/ so I can rifle through life while/ living it.---From “Great Plains” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 10-19-11

1. Where we Started

We were young and had our hearts and heads
trapped in dreams of mansions in the sky---
we said we will get there somehow, not afraid
of taking on the wherewithals of getting there:

How could I have stayed in that graveyard shift
relaying news around the planet, and sowing
anger in sponge-like minds at the abbey’s
colegio de artes liberales at the peak of day?

How could I have crawled back to put the day’s
paper to bed on dogday afternoons, and come
home to sweat-caked sheets thereafter? All,
all in one grabbing day to eke out this dream?

Could you ever forget the rush or feel of hastily
shorn underwear when we found ourselves
frenziedly marking time before we would rise
again to the hungry calls of earning a living?

At two or three, underclothes were our clothes.

2. Lost Chances

These are the day’s fears come home to roost,
when all that we can look forward to is sleep
to salve hurts heaped as staples of our lives:

How often do we lash out to blame each other
for lost chances at being happy? For laughter
gone from rooms we leave never ever to return?

In other rooms, in other voices, do we hope
to remake, maybe rebuild, a ruptured refuge?
In your nightmare, there is no water in the closet.

3. Holding On

This cool stillness on a bare porch jolts me
from a somber thought: hanging by a thread,
this fluffy piece of thistledown tells us all
about how tenuously we cling to a place we
never really owned. Like that wind tossed
seed-carrier, when we dance our final twirl
and all the dancers off the floor, we hold on
to a lingering melody that keeps us swaying,
alas, to an absent band---an invisible yarn
binding us to a story's end. We barely tremble.

4. Picking up Lost Shells

Here I am, picking up abandoned
shells. Could their quondam settlers
have required more wiggle space,
find ease where there is nothing
left of free and unbridle growing?
I, too, have bartered for lost dreams
but, like Orpheus, I looked too closely.

Have I turned around to size up my
trophy coming out of struggles
to recast quotidian days into happy
residues of life and love? Did I lose
what I endlessly return to, where
coming back is also coming home?
I look back for shells that I had lost.

5. In Our Exile, a Condition of Stillness

A condition of stillness pursues you,
wherever you find your exile, at sea
or in any exploration. You will be there.
It is your image on the mirror: an old
longing for the simplicity long lost
in the shuffle of life, loves, and losses.

Every wave that beats on the ballast
asks: Are you happy at last? Will this
outlast the lingering left-over dread?
Out there where waves break at the edge
of the firmament of quiet stars on stars
you can see through moving darkness.

Where have all the pains remained?
On what shores did you neglect to load
them, overstaying albatross of gloom?
Your heart leaps with the bobbing bow
and stern, and you whisper a prayer
drowned quickly by the sea. You laugh.

They cannot haunt you anymore than
dead memories can bear you down.
You have built a mansion of dreams.
You have been here before, haven’t you?
Exploring the depths of what happiness
you could grab, you will hold them.

You will never let them slip away; you
have earned them. In this brief exile
on the sea, would you hold on to this
sudden grace of simple stillness?
Will this still simplicity pursue you
wherever you roam? Come home then.

6. Knowing Home for the First Time

Stand still. Find your still point.
You will find a sanctuary there.

All the wind you can whistle for
will run through you like spirits
hovering,  pulling you through
all the small boxes keeping you
your own unshackled prisoner,
moored to fears fencing you in
like the pages of a book bound
to a rind, like a caged sparrow
perched on a bar will hop down
rather than fly in narrow air.

When you get there, that place
will not be there till you find it.
Build it from fondest dreams,
house them in open chambers.
Let the winds of everywhere
and everything rifle through
its corridors to find you free,
unafraid to roam elsewhere
because you know there is always
this still point to go home to.


07-14-13,  Mississauga