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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.

Monday, May 19, 2014



1. A Shawl on a Pine Tree Branch

You left that shawl on a pine tree branch
where I etched your name so you will return
to see it grow with the tree. But you did not.

It does not matter. You wear that old city
on your shoulders like that green shawl
I still keep in a wood chest carved in Ifugao.

Its ridges, its sunsets, its clay soil, the rocks
shrouded now by sunflowers jutting through
cracks and crevices lining the zigzag roads,

the halloo of the terrace gleaners bursting
into song at sundown, all sounds echoing
through those mountain rims and alleys

in the city, the Indian bazaars, the roadside
bars, the cathedral overlooking the city like
a muezzin singing from his minaret, its belfry

our lighthouse, a beacon from the lowland
refuge of white beaches and emerald seas,
are still redolent of evergreen pine leaves.

I know you keep them now in the eyes
of your children, in their laughter, and sighs
when you draw the city’s face over your heart.

---Albert B. Casuga

2. Heartaches Among Windy Spaces

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.

By the time you fill up to the brim,
You’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. You thirst still.

Poems Revised 05-19-2014


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