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.

Monday, March 31, 2014



A graffiti artist? No, sir, I use spray cans not brushes. I paint. ---Las Vegas Street Artist

Is it any different, this splashing of colour
Behind a glass cage, from the wild abandon
Of defacing, disfiguring all walls and fences
That come between you and your pure anger
Cursing a dark and ugly hole you call home
In a jungle where tendrils are skyscrapers
And black trellises of filthy woven grid wires
Swollen like hissing, smugly snaking, serpents
Slithering swiftly after swallowing whores
Snagged and stoned inside gaols of penury,
A condition not of their making but of a city
Beyond repair, cursed, now beyond rebuke.

Where you would have been a midnight
Rogue spraying mangled rants of hate
On defenceless palace walls and mansions
Fenced off with forbiddingly harsh barricades
Of vulgar wealth and embarrassing splendor,
You chose a prison of art, a cage of glass,
Where you would rather spray raw beauty
On surfaces that scarcely know a raison d’etre
Of creating and spreading beauty now gone
where it ought to be, a quixotic task you share
With a craftsman in the sky who might just
Be smiling down on you in gleeful whimsy,
Because you, in utter smallness or madness,
Would rather shape beauty and be godlike.



Along the Strip, Las Vegas, 03-31-14


Saturday, March 29, 2014



Fancy seeing houses of prayer
called churches here in the belly
of a desert that deserted prayer
when it offered gold, wine, women,
songs, endless carousing into nights
proclaiming a paradise regained
where raucous laughter and gasps
of lust and wanton desire spill out
of parlour balconies above streets
that promise to snake into a haven
on asphalt and the promise land
of a Sodom and Gomorrah reprise
when defiant joie d’vivre was a
cackle of coupling or a lusty gargle
of wine drowning the din of anger
thrown like fists into a dark sky.
We will be happy again, we will,
or perish trying to make pretend
castles, pyramids, even churches, real.

---Albert B. Casuga

Las Vegas, 03-29-14

Thursday, March 27, 2014



(For Veronica, Ian and His Girl Friend at Treasure Island)


1. Scene 1

Her shriek was a heart stopper:
A giggling thief of a gusty breeze
Blew off her loosely held suncap,
Bounced it off a scorched pavement
Into the lazy glide of the lagoon
Circling the mocked-up pirate ship,
Tidily painted as one of the fares
Dotting the Sin City’s boulevard
(Not of broken dreams yet, ripped
Pockets maybe) of busy strangers
Agog over this melange of kitsch
And lord-knows what monuments
Of a catch-as-catch-can chance
Makes a mockery of gambling a life
For a peep at a pot at rainbow’s end
Or a naïve lust for a moment of joy,
A quicksilver dream no longer there.

2. Scene 2

Wordlessly, he climbed over the rope
Fencing off the pretend boardwalk,
Kicked off his worn rubber slippers,
Jimmied himself between the walls
Of the prop and the marina deck,
Gingerly lowering his thin, bare feet
Into the dark water, and with his toes
Pulled out old gal’s suncap (courtesy
Of Mercedes Benz but not the Benz
Of hats), now all royally drenched.
With a faint smile, wordlessly still,
He handed the dripping head gear,
Once her majestic top now gripped
By his toes, his wet sole as bottom end.

3. Scene 3

Thank you’s followed by tourist banter,
Granny asked: Where are you kids from?
Australia, he said rather curtly, little
For that broad continent down under.
Thank you, lad, her dotard of a husband
Dutifully chimed in. What’s your name?
He asked, icing his civilised gratitude.
The comely girl friend laughed stoutly,
Proud of her lad, who said, still sans smile:
IAN, as in I Am Nothing. Thank you, Ian,
Became the senior strollers’ a capella.

4. Scene 4

The lad might have been right, after all,
It seemed like nothing kind nor heroic
And gentle happened as the promenaders
Of Las Vegas Boulevard strutted on like
Blind roulettes and absently rolled off
The boardwalk rushing to lose their money
If not selves in a city where caps blown off
Grandmothers’ heads are not even a silly
Distraction, though gallantly retrieved
By lads called IAN (I am nothing) who turn
Out for these frolicking elders, a gentle,
Anonymous something, someone, from
Down Under. But You Are Something, IAN.

03-26-14, The Strip


Monday, March 24, 2014


"You and I will travel far together, You and I are growing old together. You and I may never get to heaven, but at least we try..." Words I barely remember from a song I have been singing in the shower these days. They haunt me in sleep, or... even in wakeful tete-a-tete at burger shops.


Words in their primary or immediate signification stand for nothing, but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them. ---John Locke

Are you talking to me? Are you writing to me?
Answers to questions you pitch into the dark
are meanings I assign to the questions you ask.

Always, you and I, will be at opposite ends
of a half-lit hallway where echoes are as urgent
as the tremulous confessions we burden ourselves

with each time we look at our blurred reflections
on the one-way mirrors we look into when hiding
hurts hurled like hunting knives at target trees.

When I call you, I mean to quickly hold you down,
to find your voice, to shape your feelings, to own
your thoughts, to mould you as I want to have you.

I interpret you through my own lenses and mirror
you as you would me and have our confluence
in this reflection, a dragging into a cold dungeon

of thought constructing meaning instead of finding
it, and the “You” becomes the “I” held in bondage.
Except that in this conquest, I lose everything.

Questions and answers become elusive phantoms
of meaning, configurations of troth to the other
turn into fantasy, dreams and desire but delusions.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014


“Canadian soldiers come home from Afghanistan. ---Today’s Toronto Star headline, 03-19-14

Photo by Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images From the LOOP, Site

”No one to meet this lad. So the giggling stranger kissed him. ---Caption of Kiss photo.

She said he looked alone and bewildered:
Wives and children kissing their husbands,
Dads crushing stiff hair on yammering boys’
Mohawk heads, a weeping mother hugs
Her plump lass back home from the Marines.
No one to meet this lad, she muttered. Why?

There was that picture when WWII ended
With an Allied victory sealed with a kiss;
That’s what will be remembered. Always;
Not the Nagasaki and Hiroshima massacre
With Enola Gay’s monster bombs. The Kiss.
The lad and lass in a tango swoon. The Kiss.

Weakly wiping his now scraggy shaved chin
After a swig off his canteen (buddy at war),
He leapt to catch her who jumped wantonly
Into his arms to give him the Afghan Kiss
That will now be a pin-up of peeping gigglers,
Each lad wanting to enlist in the next war.


“My boys ain’t comin’ home.---Iqaluit Dad

On my hammock hour, I watch shadows
jump off my porch walls, talk with them,
and watch them grow tall at sundown.

Dusk and the quick sunset swallow them
into a night I hope would not be bivouac
cold. My boys are too young to be cut down.

I don’t need medals or a flag if they come
home at all—there’s a law that says I could
not use them flags for blankets on cold days.

Nor give them medals to their dear mother
who has gone ahead to happy hunting grounds.
Medals? I’d rather have tin mess cups for mugs.




Monday, March 17, 2014





(For Martin, Teaching Marie)

Will you grow older than these lessons,
Mon chère? Will you gather pictures
Like dada-abuelo peppers and papers
His dusty study with his world’s magic?

Papa will no doubt pin this on his wall,
I wager all my left-over memories,
He will: it is this lesson of love and daring
That he will always remember, repeat:

“Go, chère, find your slope and subdue it,
Ride over all the covered snow lumps,
Leap over the stumps, swerve and stomp.
No dreads, brave girl, this glide is yours.”

Down there, in yet another world, prayer
Is passé; that comes only after a striving,
Not after the wind, but a hankering for power
You must dig out from your heart when sliding.

Down there, when you have grabbed your slope,
Eat the snow on the ground, it is your prayer.
Lick the pine cones on your way off the trail
They are your trophies. Each one, my prayer.




For Father (Francisco F. Casuga+)

How much of those happy times
would you bring back, like the waves
ebb but must always rush back?

It is the sea that returns you intact
into my now empty days, windy days,
your laughter always a raw memory.

You threw me into those restless
waves, cried out a challenge: Swim!
Kick hard, swing your arms! Swim!

And I never stopped, not for hurts,
not for lost dreams, nor for losses.
You warned me never ever to cry.




(For Father, Who Never Felt Snow)

Yet all the precedent is on my side:/I know that winter death has never tried/The earth but it has failed;.../It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak. --- Robert Frost, The Onset

I would run down the slope and catch myself
a rolling ball of snow before it falls into the ravine,
but walking through the silently falling snow
at the trail is a choice for these creaking knees---
no more gossoon games defying gravity for me
or flying off the hillside edge into fluff below
among the stiffened bramble and wild apple tree.

There’s warmth in the silence of falling snow:
I feel his gentle hands on my nape, I hear him,
I ask him if he would drink a pint with me
if I had reached beer-guzzling age before
he’d make his final trek, before he’d leave,
but I hear his whistling for the wind instead
and tug at his wayward kite now puncturing
some sombre summer sky in San Fernando.

O, how I’d run down the barren slopes to catch
his fallen kite among the burnt logs of the kaingin,*
but these are flakes I find myself catching
and whipped out twigs that break the silence
of falling snow. O my father.



*Clearings made by burning forests

 With Father, Martin, Mother, Adele Frances Casuga, and siblings Chloe Dominique and Louis Martin (in goggles)
Her Father, Martin Lalonde, and Marie Clementine, In Her Time

Sunday, March 16, 2014





Look and mark this well:
A flower grows inside one
nurturing blossom.

Much like a mother
would glow while she gently bears
a seed sown, now grown

to yet another
bloom, a heart that grows alone
to bear a flower.

---Albert B. Casuga   


Saturday, March 15, 2014



I've got me the best excuse yet for all this snow:
She giggles through it all, slopes and shadows
On a cold blank mantle that would send old men
Screaming for a bit of sun in their withering lives.
"In sand or in snow, or meadows, too, abuelo,
I've got them covered, because I can. Just watch me."
She sloshes down with such aplomb I forgive this
frozen mayhem and wish for her to cover the length
between fear and wonder of how winter in her eyes
has brought spring and sunshine quickly into mine.



Saturday, March 1, 2014


It was a revolting site to say the least. Wee lads sleeping on the pavement. People rush by. The bakery owner leaned indifferently on his counter. In Church, I heard the young priest quote from Paul's Letter to the Corinthians today: Trust ...the Lord, He is Forever Faithful. 


They slept soundly on the pavement
right next to a bakery. Or was it an act?

Two lads lying like leaves left where they fell.
Shuffling quickly away, even mothers ignored them.

Little boys. I would not even call them beggars.
Nobody will pick them off the cold bakery cobbles.

Have they run off from home to fend for themselves?
Did they ask to be born? What loins expelled them?

Whence they spring, was there not some beastly lust
akin to that of prowling dogs? They are just boys.

What bitch abandons her pups in this penury and pain?
Where was the hand that caught them from that hole?

How would these lads grow old enough to hear the priest
intone at the mass nearby: Trust in the Lord, He is Faithful.

If I felt bad enough, why did I not pick them up?
Why could I not have called the city hall? The Church?

Or wake them up and feed them bread, clothe them,
give them shelter. They are the least of our brethren.

We were rushing to church, we were a tad late; I took time
to finish my noodles and hot soup on a cold evening like this.



by Waqt News Photo