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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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014



(For Fr. Francisco R. Albano)

Cierra algunas puertas. No por orgullo, ni soberbia, sino no porque ya no llevan a ninguna parte.---Paulo Coelho.*

How many more doors must he close
before he would know when stillness
has finally found its way to his door?

Doors swivel here and would not stop
for him to stay; but he dreads staying
because all wanting has finally died,
fervent desires wrinkled on the sheets.

There is just the urgent need now to run
quickly away from the swinging door
that will impale him needlessly to walls

closing down on him even as he spreads
his new-found wings to rise beyond all
this debris of meaning,  love’s carrion,

when that is all gone, all abandoned.

Who would not think of shutting doors
whence come the vultures of unfeeling
ennui, numb hearts still beating, still
blubbering about how lonely it will be

before the eager beaks have garroted
their brittle necks straining to grumble
a futile prayer that this visit is too brief?

---Albert B. Casuga

*Close some doors, not because of pride, nor arrogance, but because they no longer lead to anywhere.


Monday, April 28, 2014


NAPOMO POEM #29 (04-29-14). (National Poetry Month) Here I am, a homo viator, in the twilight of his years. Where am I? At what stage of this brief, brief life do I find myself in? Is there anything else I must do? Is God done with me yet? ...Or am I hankering for yet another 


The homo viator moves on his stage,
prompted by hoarded plaudits stored
in his hungry heart: one more bow,
and he retreats behind the curtains
to await those calls for an Encore!

No calls come, the curtains fall.

The gobbling fowl’s theatre is not off
the prompt mark: preening, hamming,
posturing, he goes through the acts
lusting for audiences who might weep,
laugh, bellow, strut, and ache with him.

When the curtain falls, and fleeting
encomiums echo only in the emptied
cavern, he wonders if the season
would end when even hummingbirds
no longer wait in the theatre wings.

—Albert B. Casuga



The Perfect Book

By: Sydney Kwan

            “What a twist!” yelled Samantha as she read the book ‘Number the Stars’.

            “Keep it down up there!” called her mom who was cooking what smelled like rotting eggs. But Samantha couldn’t help it, she just loved reading! Her shelves were overflowing with books and every day she would purchase a new one. Today she wanted to buy the most perfect book ever. She ran down the stairs rapidly.

            “Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” said her mom who was still mixing her soup monstrosity.

            “It’s okay, I can go by myself.”

            Samantha was in front of Chapters, one of her favourite bookstores. Just as she opened the door, she saw a new store across the street with books in the windows.

“I don’t remember that being there.” said Samantha. She crossed the street and dusted off an old sign that read: “Mr. Linden’s Library. Lots of new books.” Immediately, Samantha opened the door and stopped in shock.

The library was gigantic! The shelves were neatly lined with books. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, making it look like a ballroom. The top and bottom level of the library were filled with chairs and lamps for people to sit and read. An older man that had white hair and circular glasses greeted her at the front desk.

“Hello there! Welcome to my library! My name is Mr. Linden.” said the man cheerfully.

“I’m Samantha Sapphire. So this is your library?” she asked.

“Yes, it is. And all books can be taken out by people I know. I just met you, so pick a book!”


Mr. Linden nodded.

“Sweet!” Samantha sounded excited.

“But do know this, Miss Sapphire. Some of the books here do terrible things. If you fall asleep while reading an enchanted book, the words in the book become true.”

Samantha looked at the old geezer like he was crazy.

“O-Kay....” she slowly said and started to walk away from the desk while looking at all of the books, “This is going to take awhile.”

She searched through the fantasy book section and found nothing interesting. She glanced through the drama books. “I don’t want to cry” thought Samantha as she moved on to another shelf.

After ten minutes of browsing, she finally saw it. Over in the adventure aisle on the second floor, a book bound in leather and sparkling with gold trim caught her eye. Samantha grabbed the spine and pulled it off the shelf. The title on the cover was written beautifully in an old cursive style, “The Girl in the Woods.”

“This book is perfect!” Samantha yelled, holding the book up like a trophy.

An older woman sitting at a nearby table jerked her head up, “SSSSHHHHHH!!!”

“Sorry,” said Samantha sheepishly as she made her way to the front desk.

“This one please!” she handed the book to Mr. Linden proudly.

“Okay. Take it.” Mr. Linden smiled as he pushed the book back to her.

“You don’t need to scan it?”

“Nope.” said the old librarian in a carefree manner.

“I love this library! Thank you sir! Goodbye!” hollered Samantha as she walked out the door.

“Be careful!” warned Mr. Linden. His face had ever so slightly shifted from happy and cheerful to worried and concerned.

When Samantha arrived home, she dashed to the couch and started reading.

“What book did you get?” asked her mom who was pouring that same smelly soup from earlier in the day into a bowl.

“I got a book called The Girl in the Woods from the new library!” replied Samantha showing her mom the gorgeous cover.

“I guess you don’t want dinner if you’re too busy reading.” Mrs. Sapphire started to pour the soup back into the pot.

“Sorry mom, but I just can’t put this book down!”

A few hours later, Samantha was in her bed reading the part about how the girl ended up in the woods. She had moved from the couch to her bedroom to get more comfortable just as the story was really getting good. Even though she was excited to read on, Samantha’s eyes were getting tired and she struggled to keep them open.

“What if I do fall asleep while reading this?” she thought. Samantha pushed through the next page but her eyelids felt heavy and thick. Mr. Linden’s kind, wrinkled face appeared in her head just as she drifted off to sleep. He had warned her about the book. Now it was too late. Vines and leaves sprouted from the enchanted gold and leather tome. Branches covered the walls and grass grew on the floor. Her room looked like the woods.

Samantha woke up,  yawned, looked around and then screamed. She bolted out of bed holding the hard cover and suddenly realized she was in the woods!

“I’!!!”, shouted Samantha. She didn’t listen to Mr. Linden and now she was trapped. “The words in the book become true.” Samantha thought long and hard about what Mr. Linden had said.

“If that’s what he said, let’s see if it’s true.” thought Samantha who started flipping through the book. The page read “She saw a path of stone that led to the city of Calmo.” Just then, a pathway made of stone appeared in front of Samantha. She followed it all the way to a gigantic castle.

“Wow!” exclaimed Samantha in amazement. She kept reading, “Another girl who looked like a warrior came up to her.”

“Hi.”, said a voice. Samantha looked up at a girl. She had a high ponytail and jet black hair. She was wearing metal armour and a sheathed sword hung from her left hip.

“My name is Isabella.” The girl smiled. “Welcome to Calmo!”

“I’m Samantha. I’m not from around here. I didn’t know there was a city in the woods.”

“Only very few people can see Calmo. You are one of them.” explained Isabella.

“Oh. Well, that’s very nice but I need to get home and this book can tell me what to do to get back.”

“At least stay here for the night Sam. It’s hard to travel in the night.” Isabella started walking back to the castle.

“Wait up!” called Samantha as she caught up to Isabella. She certainly did not want to be left alone here in the middle of nowhere.

At the gates of the castle, Isabella pulled her sword out of her scabbard. In the moonlight, Samantha could make out beautiful engravings and symbols etched in the steel blade. Isabella plunged her sword between the two swinging gates like a key. After pulling the weapon out, the gates opened as if by magic. The young warrior girl smirked at Sam and started walking inside. Sam followed Isabella along a path all the way to the back of the majestic castle into a small room.

“You may sleep here for the night. I will come and get you in the morning.” Isabella told Sam as she closed the door and walked away.

The room looked eerily similar to Sam’s room back home only it was much cleaner and there were fewer books on the shelves. The bed had freshly washed sheets and when Samantha lay down, she sunk into the soft, plush mattress. As she stretched out comfortably, Sam thought “If Mr. Linden said the words in the book become true, what if I wrote my own words into the book?”

When Sam woke up in the morning, she saw Isabella standing in the door way waiting.

“Rise and shine! I’ve decided that I will take you home with the help of your book, okay Sam?” asked Isabella. Samantha thought about it.

“Okay, c’mon!” replied Sam who grabbed Isabella’s arm and headed for the gates of the castle. After they passed the gates, Samantha asked “Why do you call me Sam?”

“I call you Sam because I have a feeling we are going to be close friends for a very long time and I want to have a nickname for you.” Isabella gave her a warm smile.

They kept walking for hours and hours. Samantha got tired and sat down on a large rock. She started to read what will happen next.

“What is a lomer?” asked Sam.

“A lomer is a monster. Why do you ask?”

“I ask because my book says a lomer is coming!!!” shouted Sam in a wild panic.

Just then, a hideous creature sprung out of nowhere. Isabella drew her sword. Sam shut her eyes, covered her face with her hands and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. She opened her eyes and saw Isabella stroking the creature’s fur. Suddenly, the feeling of cold steel pressed against her neck.

“What...a...twist.” Sam whispered under her breath.

“Sorry Sam. Looks like you won’t be going home today. Or ever!” Isabella had an evil smile on her face. She pulled her sword back ready to slice when Sam felt something in her pocket. A pen! Quickly, Sam scribbled out the words in the book with the pen. Everything froze except for Sam.

“It worked!” Sam wrote in the book “This never happened.” She blinked and found herself standing in front of Chapters holding the door while looking across the street. No new store was there. Sam breathed a sigh of relief and went to find a new perfect book.


 My granddaughter, Sydney Alexis Kwan, during the recent Easter Egg Hunt. Sydney is 12, in Grade 6 at the St. Valentines Catholic Elementary School, and is the youngest child of Mr. Alvin Kwan and my daughter, April Veronica Kwan-Casuga.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


A painting by Danny Castillones Sillada


(For Danny Castillones Sillada)

Nothingness, therefore, is the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem of human freedom because nothing before or after follows the human inactivity and indifference, but the will to feel, the will to reason, the will to ponder, and the will to live. …Man is nothing until he unfolds and lives his nothingness with value and meaning.---Danny Castillones Sillada

Dread is all there is to look for: all fears
found all found fearful. An undiscovered country
touched for moments of eternity not there
pour between fingers, time watching time

colour blind’s grey Journeyman’s carousel
among the stars. Still an undiscovered country.

Between the egg and the sky or whatever space
is allowed between them, heaves the Tension.

Surely, between whatever binds everything to nothing
and the trace of distinction between life and dying
is nothing’s extension. Still the end of this space
is his beginning to know where ends he whose touch
is the question: Am I everything or nothing? I am?
Let me shape myself then. This time, in my own image.

---Albert B. Casuga

Revised, 04-27-2014


Friday, April 25, 2014




What is your magnetic north?*

A mantle of oak leaves lifts with the updraft
like an unguarded skirt billowing to reveal
gnarled and spindly trunks, brittle leftovers
of the season’s turn, not yet rid of frost marks.

Nothing to look at from where I sip my tea.
Flapping vulture wings lend the fall wheeze
a healthier sound, their cackling a strangely
dismissive sneer as they fly towards tundra

where they might yet find carrion of seals left
after the hunt. Done with the hoarfrost, done
with the hollow whistle of the woods, done
with the walling-in poplar trees. Like nomads,

they fly north now to store meals heftier than
rodents and sparrows. Will they Occupy winter?



What is your magnetic north?**

Where we positioned our beds last spring,
She would be my north. She moved my bed
To the haunted study, cobwebbed now, sleep
Not coming by easy, wall-cracking snores
From my south are driving her silently crazy.

“Now. Now. Now. North. West. Please. Now.
Give me some peace and quiet. I shall share
Your bed before you salivate into deep sleep.”

Come to bed then, come now. Come now, Love.
I swear those words were the night’s screams
Not the pleading prayer I lisp quietly, slowly now.


04-26-14, Mississauga, Ontario

*NaPoMo Day 26 prompt offered by Norfolk VA poet Luisa A. Igloria **Prompt 26 by Luisa A. Igloria


Tuesday, April 22, 2014



A pile of fresh dirt at the woods’ edge: a groundhog has dug a den under the roots of a poison ivy-throttled maple. Will he itch all winter?—Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 11-23-11

Places shape us if we let them, like a dug den
at the woods’ edge would define the hog’s
winter under maple tree roots, poison ivy
wrapping its trunk at ground’s access points.

How much life can be eked out of this place
when boundaries throttle the explorer’s
spirit before one has started his exploration?
Not in my backyard, you don’t. Verboten.

There is poison in the air, water, dirt, or fire
from the bellies of the earth to the fusion
chambers of atomic energy plants; death
in coal-fired stations belching black smoke
to ozone distances, drought in global warming.

Seas gobble up atolls and resort isles; diseases
even sprout from infirmaries, and hospitals
become hospices for the dying and the dead.
Why must digging the dirt out of a den
start with the handicap of poison ivy?

Why plant genius and courage in a man
when his unbridled enterprise and struggle
can only lead to disasters that make burial
grounds his enduring, grandest monuments?

There is fresh dirt on the ground: An Occupier
will be buried among the tents in the park.
He could not restart his life; he took it instead.
Like that itch would do the groundhog in, I bet.

— Albert B. Casuga
04-22-14, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada


Sunday, April 20, 2014



“Why on earth do we have Easter Egg Hunt?” --- Grandson in University

What’s inside the egg, little one?
You said you have to break it.
“There, abuelo, it is just a chocolate.”

You parted bramble to find them
Sparkling with colours only mothers
Can imagine. “Anything else in the egg?”

I knew grandmother put some coins
In them, too, because it was a surprise,
Not unlike the thirty pieces of silver.

Why Easter Egg Hunt? What’s to hunt?
She said, impatiently brushing shrubs,
Abuela said, Jesus is there in the egg.”

How the pagan ritual has transformed
This annual revelry into the mystery
Of the Cave I also call a womb tomb!

What’s inside your new egg, this time,
Little one? “I told you, Dada: Jesus.
When we break the egg, he comes again.”

Like a womb tomb, I said. “Not tom-tom.
Only Jesus coming out of the egg, ‘cause
He likes children to hunt coloured eggs.”

Among the bramble, I prayed quietly:
Into your tomb, Master, we will march,
Saving all the world’s suffering children.

04-20-14, Mississauga, Ontario




Friday, April 18, 2014



(For my wife, Veronica, and my Mother, Nenita+, who also had only one son each, Albert Jr. and Albert Sr.)

When we lost you at that Jerusalem festival,
For three days and found you at the Temple,
I knew you would give me more impatient kicks,
This time not in my womb, this time on a cross,
This time from your most cruel embrace, my son,
A carrion of the proud lad who said: Mother,
I am not lost, nor mad, I am about my Father’s
Business. O, if he were there, your father Ioseph,
O, if he were here now, he still would not weep.
He would be mindlessly angry that you had me
Worry, and that now, now, you have me weeping.
What is left for me to worry over? What joy
Would you have brought me despite father’s
Annoyance? When you brought me to banquets,
Did you not make me smile like a worried mother
That water would not turn to wine however drunk
You were? Did you not make me beam with pride
When you saved that harlot from stones? Cast
The first stone if you were sinless, you had dared
The Pharisees who did not know how good she
Was for the rich Sadducees who lusted for her,
But you knew; you, who would not tell me much
About your disciple Mary, now hurt and crushed
That you must leave her mocked in the shadow
Of your having kept the company of even thieves
Whom your Father will keep with you in paradise.
O, my Son, my Iesu, is this death also your Father’s
Will? Is this also why he is taking you from me?
Why then did you cry in desperate despair: Abba,
Father, why have you forsaken me? Let me know
How I should understand how you could regain
A lost paradise when you would no longer be here?
O, my son, why have you also abandoned me?

04-18-14 Mississauga, Ontario


Thursday, April 17, 2014


"Cock Crow", Digital Painting by Alfredo "Ding" Roces, 1997

He is the one that I shall kiss: Jesus of Nazareth. ---Judas Iscariot

Who will do it, that His will might be done?
Not he who would deny him before cockcrow,
Nor fearful fishermen scrambling in the dark.
There must be a clean way, hidden from them.

Pilate will not hang him; look, he washes hands
Much like the whore who has just pleased him,
That he might not decree a wicked judgment;
After all, did I not choose the fairest of them all?

The one he has fished out to warm his cold bed
On bivouacs, clean his dirty toes with perfume?
I had to earn the pieces of silver for myself.
Must hie away from this wasted hole of wastrels.

The thief on the other tree proclaimed him ally
That he might be spared by those rabid rabbis.
Fool, he must perish like jackals before him,
Used like rags to wipe these asses’ behinds.

From my filthy ruse then, shall his promise
To save man from perdition become flesh, blood
Of the havoc that shall destroy Satan’s dominion
Over the Paradise that he said he will regain.

I will join my Master then, hanging from this Tree.

04-17-14, Mississauga, Ontario

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



This shall not perish from the earth.
That dark tree would. It’s ransom?
Why, the crown of thorns, of course.
And this valley of fear, this gloom?

Unlike the old wounding diadem,  

They will be there again at sunrise
Unlike His Tree and prickly Crown.
They will not be there to save them.

His blood shall be on their heads.

Yet, they too, will know redemption.
They, too, will find their good cure:
The vile and the cruel shall be gone
When He comes to live next door.

But how often do we need redemption?

---Albert B. Casuga

04-15-14, Mississauga, Ontario


Sunday, April 13, 2014


Ecce Homo by Alfredo Roces, 1952


This gloomy day ushers in (an embarrassment
of fronds and a donkey) an entry of a warrior
proclaiming Love, exited as a prisoner of war
into the Hill of Skulls, spread-eagled as a thief
on a ragged cross, crucified for a killing
fit only for the those mocking Caesar's due,
while invoking forgiveness for his assassins
who stripped him naked in front of his wife,
mother, and brothers, wailing in stark despair
to a darkened sky: Why have you forsaken me?

A dark cross casts its shadow over the valley,
but the blown rain breaks buds burnt like ashes...
on the forehead of the land---this is a desert
where fear and pain thrive---only these twins
will grow out of the oases of blood let out
by blades broken into each brother’s bones:
crosses have lost their balm here, where houses
are better off without porches anymore.

 —Albert B. Casuga
Revised 04-13-14 Mississauga


Wednesday, April 9, 2014



It’s 36C outside, let’s take that deferred swim at the resort’s pool.” She said. “Yup,” he said. But the water was still cold from the cold spell in Nevada. He cursed.

 “We have known them all already,
known them all”. Thus, we measure lives,
abandoned hopes, laments, even sighs.

We have heard them all already,
the prayers that remain unanswered
behind bolted doors, darkened rooms.

This anguish over being here and not
here is all too familiar, but like innocent
children, we still look toward times

when we eagerly open holiday boxes
and find surprises no longer there,
but manage to smile anyway, bottle up

a “No thank you,” and move on to other
boxes, only to find feigned familiar
joy that those are still the wanted toys.

Like a dip in the pool on a beastly hot day,
that turns out like a party-pooper’s retreat
from a douse of frozen water in a cold pool.

Thus ends a holiday in a pretend paradise,
in this defiant desert of dystopian dreams:
Not with a sigh of bliss, but with a shiver.

Like uncertain weather marked in the sky,
we move on, unchartered, with the flux,
like all things plotted must begin then end.

—Albert B. Casuga
04-09-14, Las Vegas, at the Elara

Tuesday, April 8, 2014



The play of lights on the dome is what gathers them to Fremont. Moving lights, in the dome of a pretend sky, not unlike the lights and tinkles of a slot machine.

It is what we have absently forgotten,
that we still abide in a strange gyroscope
of happenstance of giving and taking,
of coming and going, visions and revisions.

Or there simply is nothing to remember
from the darkness whence we came except
the pain of pushing or pulling out of a hole
into a yet more fearsome cave of struggle.

Is it dread then that is left in our satchels?
This journey has neither maps nor diviners
to guard against a free fall into an abyss
of irreducible gloom and cold desert silence.

Is this dome of blazing lights also a strum
for a quiet waking into a space of loneliness?
Or are these spaces our own echo chambers
where ripples of our calls are heard by others?

In the Beginning was Light, and we go back
again and again to understand the shape
of the spark that was left undefined in hearts
that recreate it in brief outbursts of that Light.

---Albert B. Casuga
04-08-14, Las Vegas, Nevada