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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.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Here's a brithday poem I forgot to post on April 29. Remembering an encounter. Is there a parallel world?

Oh, but they exist in a parallel world—
much like the wall seen from the other...

side. Who was that who caught me then

when as a wiggler of a baby on her bed,
I fell to some cushion of air or hands
from the nether world? The herbolario*

(who would brush away the elfin spirits
with herbs and leaves galore to ward
them off and flush the fever off my face)

traced the kind catcher in rice grains
floating in a tea cup of boiled water:
“the ghost of his grandfather saved him.”

A shaman after my heart, he gathered
the granules “into” an egg fresh off
grandmother’s layer basket, and mumbled:

“the spirit is back in his enchanted world,”
then threw the uncracked egg into a banana
grove, profusely intoning a song of gratitude:

“O father, O brother, O Great Spirit, hail,
O hail your coming to save your little boy,
lest he be broken now and gone forever!”

Turning ninety, Mother concludes all my
birthday anecdotes with her discovery of
an unbroken egg pitched into that grove:

On my birthdays now, I ask the walls:
If there were ghosts, would they leave us
guessing if, indeed, there is a life hereafter?

—Albert B. Casuga

*herbolario --- herb Shaman (or "witch doctor" for the incredulous.). Folk-healers.

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