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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 30, 2013



It is the room we dread to open
when we go back home because
we have to. You can bunk in here,
nothing has changed, you sleep
well in familiar places, don’t you?

Except that this room is too full
of everything I might have been
running away from: you will be
back for the summer holidays,
won’t you? Mom would like that.

I did not catch the train back,
nor did I try that summer when
father said he was ill: come home
as quickly as classes end, your
father would like that. Come home.

It has been some time since I last
dusted off the cobwebs and dirt
from the sill and the pictures
in this room. I stare at them longer
now praying they would talk back:

You’ve come home at last. Stay,
stay longer, we would like that.
There’s catfish to hook at the river
a stone’s throw from home. There’s
black berries to gather for wine.

They stare back at my wan face
from the confines of the ornate frame
and the bursting memories in sepia:
Father in white gabardine suit,
Mother in her white terna de boda.

I have come home, but I cannot stay.
This room is now full. And empty.

--- Albert B. Casuga


Tuesday, October 29, 2013



There, not very far from here, is a clear way
of pointing it out, if you were from there.
But where is it? The field that takes you back
whenever, however you return, if you care.

That one caveat, if you care, how easy is it
to find one good reason to come back when
going back means knowing you were never
expected, nor welcome? Why return broken?

It is another world out there, but is it home?
When you left town, you swore: I will look
back only in anger
. Out there, you ached
for those sundowns when you ran through

the groves, jumped into mud pools, burnt
twigs thrown your way by the village coquette
who promised she will grow old with you, die
in your arms, give you a hundred sons or more.

You even wrote songs for her. Never got sung.
There, not very far from here, lies fallow this
field among the lilies. It will be there for you
whenever, however, you want to lie in it. Again.

---Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, October 26, 2013



Why can’t a man be like a tree? In smaller terms,
why can’t a man be like a leaf, or maybe a flower?

If he were this maple, watch how its green foliage...

quickly turns to a rainbow wall, a magic of fall.

If he were that dissembling leaf turned barn-red
from its primrose green fencing golden footpaths

with petals tied like yellow ribbons on a welcome
road, would he not make growing old a big party?

Why not a wash of pink on these fey petals then,
before they crinkle into the wrinkles of autumn?

There must be a celebration of virginal spring
that in the heat of summer reaches a crescendo

of blooming, of a flirting dance with the wind,
a delicate fandango to the rhythm of castanets!

Is that any way to age? It must be the only way.
It begins with the breaking of shoot from seed,

the lusty towering into that árbol de fuego, a bole
of flames, firetrees fencing out the drab cobbles

of a one-way street meandering through dread,
a fool’s boulevard of discarded days and dreams.


Thursday, October 24, 2013



 (For Felix and Joanna, Engaged)

It is the way of beauty and of virtue you require,

the canon forgotten in our striving for the wind.

Come hither, anyway, hide your pain in the cup
of my hands, find that reprieve from a judgment

of endlessly inchoate loving, and let your heart
rest from its ceaseless running. Escape stops here.

Should I then pledge fealty to being your gaoler?
Should I find you an open cage to freely return to?

But these will only be tethers that must bind you
when all you pray for is to be loved and unafraid.

Now, therefore, with all my courage, and all
that I can grant, I absolve you from this price

of laying your life down for the countless kisses
you have given and not taken any in return.

---Albert B. Casuga



By the time I fill up to the brim,
I‘d have coughed up sediments
Of crushed stones, jagged pebbles
And the craw-sticking bone chips...

That remain from downstream,
Sieving for the one golden nugget
That was never there. I thirst still.

But the summers of our pine city
Refuge have come and gone, too,
With our windy spaces, now left
As frozen wind tunnels when you
Abandoned the cone-strewn trails
For your will-o’-the-wisp: a full
Bowl of nectar laced with laughter.

---Albert B. Casuga

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



 The last ghost town was the one I left
when I grew up—strange requirement
to abscond when one is no longer needed,

like that bare birch tree, shorn of its foliage,
is no longer the sanctuary for that dotard
who left his empty rum bottle under the tree.

Cheek-by-jowl with the porch, it was the Ritz
with free coffee or tea doled out by a host
who talked funny with his metaphors: Hornets.

They, too, create ghost towns of hives on trees.
No point staying when leafless trees no longer
need them, no flowers to touch, no bees to kill.

I have outlived my usefulness, haven’t I? I asked.
She said: Verily. How else respond to this curt
snort, when all I really had or have is only a pack —

not even of beer, nor cheer, not even care? Zero.
Nada. End of the line. Really, all I had was a pack
of worn-out metaphors, lost love, lost coin wallet,

and a wayward heart too needy to want to betray
its anguish, its plea, to come home soon where
there is nothing but a ghost house in a ghost town.

— Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, October 19, 2013



 Is it the pell-mell debris that lingers as this dread
quietly whimpered now as end times, punishment
for the faithless and worshippers of the craven?...

Why weep then about decrepit church facades
crumbling into a heap capped by bell towers
that will no longer summon the village faithful
while they catch a little more sleep, spent and aching
from the long day’s work in fields and strange seas?

Will the gnashing of teeth stop this tired Earth
from spinning itself into this long overdue rage,
and spare these blessed poor whose sacred troth
was to inherit the earth? The gods have on cue
abandoned all who fear the wrath descending,
but now haplessly watch the statue of the Lady
(who waited on an old hill for the limp body of her son)
preside over this hill of rubble as one risen from a grave
or one who looks kindly at buried carrion strewn about,
carcasses of a temblor, yet askance in a stony gaze:

“Did not my son promise that the gates of hell shall
not prevail against this temple? Destroy this temple
and he will raise it again and again. Why weep then
over a mound of debris? They are dirt and stones.
They will not rise again. But his temple will be here.
It has risen. It will not fall again.” Temblors be damned.

10-20-13 Mississauga

Thursday, October 17, 2013


(For Julian Ashley+)
It is the Sea eats limb so life (so love)/ may not to its eternal wanting finish/ what it late started must soon deny:/ a clown’s journey through a circle’s shadow. . .
 Another fishing season would have gone by sundown,
but I have stopped counting and stopped fishing, too.
Think of all the bass that got away and the crayfish
dried brittle on rocks laved clean of seaweed and brine,
ebb tide marking rhythm and time when breaking waves
drown the homeward hallos of fishermen pulling empty
nets and ruined mesh dragged off by rotting catamarans
whose relics now jag brackish breakwater boulders
when low tide retrieves stray shells wrapped in flotsam.

It is my hammock hour. Come swing yourself
on this final refuge. Don’t take too long, hijo.
We have groupers to grill, oysters to chuck!

Echoes of your shrill shrieks and laughter startle me
still when I cock my ear to catch them filling rooms
and spaces that I would have shared with you if you
had only given me the chance to teach you how to fish.
But you left without saying goodbye. At sundown,
though, on my hammock hour, I still hum your lullaby.



Last October 2, Julian Ashley Casuga-Dela Rosa, my first grandchild, would have been 29, but he succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome four months after his birth. Con amor duradero, hijo mio.

Monday, October 14, 2013



How her strut becomes her, a wee lass on the hill.
Hands in little pockets like grandfathers walk,
she must get to the other side where there’s a wall
she needs to climb over only because it is there.

Toddling among the leaves, she lets out a shriek
like diving seagulls make, taunting the raucous
fishermen to let some catch off their bursting nets,
sharing the joie d’vivre only drunken sailors home
from the seas are full of.  Aiieee… Aieeeeeeeekkkk!

The darkening sky lets out a funnel of fall wind,
roils the crackling leaves blanketing the hillock.
She stumbles on a heap, swims through the mound
of sienna and fallen foliage, but her coy laughter
makes him tremble now, her pensive grandpere:

“Mon dieu, let her laugh, let the pall of transience
pass, that she may be defiant with full laughter
through all the autumns of her life. O, lift her up
whence she falls, cradle her caressingly. Forever.”

---Albert B. Casuga
10-14-13  Mississauga


Sunday, October 13, 2013


"Earth is the right place for love" says the late Nobel laureate Robert Frost in one of his poems. Is it? With all the natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, global warming, meltdown of the Poles, the Artic), war, violence all over the planet, droughts, wicked winters, fires (forest conflagrations, killer fires in homes and working places, Dhaka), oil spills, crashes (planes, trains, etc), man's inhumanity to man, mothers and fathers drowning their babies in bathtubs, children slaying their parents, rapes and tortures (still a regular weapon in wars, the latest chemical warfare killing children in Syria)...Signs of end times? Physicist Stephen Hawkings says these are the last thousand years of the earth. I thought I would repost these culle and revised poems published earlier (20l0) in Asia Writes, and make like Cassandra or Tiresias, or one opening Pandora's box. Voila: I told you so. Yes, the wrath of days descending. Poetry as lament, dirge, omen, and an unhappy rant --- Why not?

Thursday, October 10, 2013



1. Big Questions

What would it be like if there were no light?
The world, as we know it, ends with a whimper.
If there were no sun, all things would ebb like
floodwaters into black cisterns, dark vessels
where everything is nothing, where still points
are pointless stillness, a silence of the dead.

Who would see the hand of God in all creation?
Let there be light, a primal dictum, would be a shot
in the dark, a desperate plea of blind virtual lives,
cyber civilisation nowhere near a tungsten lamp.
Denied the power of Microsoft, the hard and fast
friendships of the Facebook, when will life begin?

Sans pings, bytes, binaries, infernal halogen head
lights, movie houses, Las Vegas slot machines,
a city that never sleeps, nuclear plants, scopes—
telescopes or gastro scopes—why would a world be?

2. Small Answers

For a small campfire by the sea to singed the smelt
to go with the purloined gin and tin cup of coffee.
Why? To mark the rhythm of shadows on the wall
when all one has is the warmth of frenzied caresses.

What would this cranny in Manhattan’s holes
be like without those lamp posts? Will benches
in the park be any better as sleepers for the tired
and angry without woodfire in those filthy drums?

Quieter than all this palaver, I guess. Certainly less
involved than asking for a light on a cold night
when a deep and good smoke will mean a distance
between life and death: a warm mouth massage.

Except that these answers are smaller questions.
Why answer questions with yet another question?

--- Albert B. Casuga


Wednesday, October 9, 2013



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.---T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Little Gidding

Sunrise on a highway ridge baffles us.
This could be sundown elsewhere
by the bay in Poro Point, a merging
of origins, east or west, a cycle of living
and dying on the reef, a coming and going
on the harbour of fishing boats and war
machines, a pot of stirred calm and tempest
really, where remembering and forgetting
are sides of the same coin---memories
made, buried, raised, extinguished or
lived again in a string of moments, a nest
of surprises that defines the journey
of a man as symbol of a moving object,
wandering back and forth (willy-nilly)
from nothing to something, something
to nothing, being-non-being, body-mind
soul---all in one simple brownbag
of wonder and questions: Why is there
something when there could be nothing?

Quite like that silly white-tailed squirrel
wandering, wondering where it last buried
a nut or a memory of one, as its quaint
prompter of an imitation of life:
a movement here, a movement there,
all really meaning a stillness of finding
where the end is also his beginning,
a circle at last where a hole defines his
next-of-kin. He arrives home only to ask:
Am I here? Is there anybody home?


Sunday, October 6, 2013



That dead oak leaning on the towering pinetree
is a postcard image for the season’s turn. Dead
things are cradled still in the limbs of the living.

There is not much of this anymore, anyway, in the woods
or in the occupied streets of New York, where the withering
would rather take down what stays green. Green as money.

This is the way things end: crash crack crawl curse or cry,
no one will open the windows for you. You might just be
the ghetto prowler robbed of his savings, body and soul,

his mortgaged house foreclosed, his drugs in mob market,
his kids in foster homes, his wife back on striptease poles,
his fingers itching to squeeze a trigger, to put some holes

into the temples of “others” who revel at dinner tables
over glazed Thanksgiving ham and turkey, bright homes
heated cozily on winters, instead of his throbbing temple.

The mumbled dread of class wars in the city is not yet here
in the woods where dead oak trunks still lean on limbs
of towering pinetrees whose leaves remain green as money.

On my porch, while I sip my tea, I feel it is too late to pray.

— Albert B. Casuga