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, June 30, 2014




Am here where nothing is everything,

where the still point of our exploration
is exploring beginnings turned into navel
gazing, a standing still on the tip of light.

                      Where am I?

Am here where mornings crack into a shiver
of twilights breaking into days and nights,
songs and echoes --- whimpers of regret
or frenzied halloing achieved after couplings
of living and dying, of starting and ending,
of suns and shadows. Endings begin here.

Am in a circle at last where the hole
defines life’s next of kin. The hole is a circle.
I have come. Am here where I am going.
Been here before. But is anybody home?

Revised, June 30, 2014

From the Author’s Notebook:

In his "Life and Death: The Burden of Proof", Deepak Chopra defines zero point: "At the moment of death the ingredients of your old body and old identity disappear... You do not acquire a new soul, because the soul doesn't have content. It's not "you" but the center around which "you" coalesces, time after time. It's your zero point."

What happens if the "center" does not hold? Will life and death still come from the same fibre? Will dying still be needed to extend the energy of living? Nothing is everything here.

"...The zero point provides the starting point from which everything in the universe springs. Since matter and energy are constantly emerging and then vanishing back into the void, the zero point serves as the switching station between existence and nothingness."

Chopra invokes the principles of physics to locate this point as he postulates that life and death are from the same stream. He quotes Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita: "Folding back in on myself, I create again and again."

One does not die, therefore. One continues the journey. The homo viator cannot come home again.

If he must come home, is there anybody there to come home to?

It is questions like this that authors like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) exploit. Some of his fellow atheists have purchased ads in trams and transits to coyly admonish: "There probably is no God; go out and enjoy yourself tonight!" The critical word is "probably". They sound unsure about their certainty.

Because we have yet no certain way of knowing, we will maintain silence in our beds.


Friday, June 27, 2014



This returning to the root is called quietness. –Lao Tzu

1. The Root

Waking up is excuse for one's return.
It is for these that leaving home
is an endless returning --
not for lost illusions
nor petty indecisions
do we return
nor for hurts our second coming,
but for grass untrod,
footsteps' echoes unheard,
where they have since then become
hollow laughter caught in domes
of running cups turned down
to celebrate our own absurd gestures
of trying to accept the virtue of dying
known to us only
because it is a manner
of returning to the root
and quietness our own
undiscovered country's

2. Wu Wei: O

A circle’s cipher shapes the sound of dreams;
it is the sound supplants what fury blood has built.
The House of Tao Te Ching makes shadows
of us all:
of our cracked voices a whimper
of regret,
of our guilt a pact
of weary visions
or indecisions to empty
our running cup
of schemes -- variations
on a theme streamed through a gloom
of circle’s ciphers.

There is no Design but the petering pattern
of wilt
on petals
or gore
on genitals.

Shadows in holes are circles.
The circle is a hole.
All things are vain given time
to mute the pain of dreams.
Time is allied with the Worm
sundering the form of murk and silt.

3. A Circle’s Cipher
“Man on the Moon!”--BBC

Dread is all there is to look for:
all fears found all found fearful
the 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.

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.
And still the end of this space is his beginning
to know where ends he whose touch is the question.

-- Albert B. Casuga

If the zero point is the point of no return but whence springs death and life and the entire circle, is it also the still point to which all energies must return? Is it the center?
If the center is also the beginning and the end, is it also the "undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns"?
In Little Gidding, T. S. Eliot wrote: "We will never cease from our exploration/ we will go on exploring/ until we come back to our beginning/ and know it only for the first time."
If the end of exploration is also its beginning, there cannot be movement where movement moves. Therefore, nothing is really everything. From nothing came everything. In Hemingway's words: "Nada y nada, y pues nada." Is this the neo-nihilism that has become the inconvenient truth?
What did you say? Nothing.
In Silence we trust.

Thursday, June 26, 2014



(For my sister Brenda Teodora Casuga-Maglaya+ on her Birthday)

How do I best remember you, hermanita?
That father would call you princesita mia
after a swig of Domecq and sarsaparilla?

You were not one to get excited by these,
nor would you bat an eyelash; you’d jump
off his lap and call out to me: “ ‘manong! "

That was always my cue for another game
of patintero under the lone lamp on our
camino; your sad eyes lit up, you’d smile.

The smile you bravely left me when you
hugged me from your sick bed, was your
own smile, nobody else’s. I will not forget.


---Albert B. Casuga
Revised, June 26, 2014

*Brenda Teodora B. Casuga-Maglaya, is a younger sister, who was also my best childhood friend. She would have been 70 today, June 26, 2014. She died in her middle 40's, a few months earlier than her husband Renato Maglaya while she took care of him during his final year.




Saturday, June 21, 2014



How efficiently convenient it would have been
if we were born with erasers in both hands:
ones which could quickly rub out anything
irrelevant or inutile to a life made in the stars.

Would one miss the struggle that colours days?
Would one etch a restful stroll under the palms?
How easily could a hammock be hung on walls
when weary of a senseless shift of acts, and rest?

The start and stress of little lives is enough
to wish for all-purpose equipment to work life
out just as we want it. Aren’t we our own masters?
Why let others outside mould our lives inside?

Are we not free to sculpt our haunches, paint our
portraits, pare our own earthen jars, exist as us
regardless of them? Why not use those erasers
to blank out every misstep, every dread, and live?

How conveniently efficient it would have been
had we been able to erase the ineffectual lines
that make us shadows instead of bright forms
exact on the blank sheet we were made to draw on.

---Albert B. Casuga


Photo by PICCOLA DOWLING of Denver, Colorado. This was a silhouette photo of her daughter while she herself was taking pictures of tthe amazing sunset in Colorado.


Keep your eyes wide open if you want to dream---Paolo Coelho

The ones we talk about or ache to recall
the morning after, we call nightmares.
A love-sick, maudlin, slobbering goodbye
in the tight-pillow-hug tearjerker dream?
It was not a dream. It is a stifled desire,
a constipation “devoutly to be wished”.
Shrinks shrank these into Freudian blots
on the balance sheets of love and hate:

You want to run as wildly far away as you

could, id permitting, haunches allowing.
One needy life is enough torment; free
yourself then from this strangled trellis,
where hanging like a wanton leaf is not
the twin of hanging on but dangling still
until hurts can no longer wound you,
nor gentle caress save you. You are a stone.

No fall can sever you from tangled vines

that summer burns, nor frost cripple you;
you would not even pray for the spring
to bring sunrises and sunsets to heal you.
Open your eyes and dream that loneliness
becomes you; you are strong and alone,
omni soli, semper. Will courage redeem
you then from the stupidity of being brave
and alone? And when you sleep, will you
remember to open your eyes and dream?

--- Albert B. Casuga

Friday, June 20, 2014


Time by Salvador Dali
"Nothing will change for the better until we do that." Why do we need time to think before we act? Are we mistaking speed for productivity? Let's "take back the time" to think. It is a unique equipment of man.


When Time equals Being,
That would be the End.

Nothing would get past
The edges of ephemera.

What would the end be,
When Being equals Time?

There will not be a bang
Anywhere, nor a whimper.

There can only be trumpets
Of the winged proclaiming

An arrival in a regained
Haven where Death is dead;

At which time, no time
Marks being on time. Ever.

All will be late for the birth
Of God on Judgment Day.


A response to one of the Big Questions posed by Simon Blackburn in his The Big Questions: Philosophy essay on Time and Being, "Does Time Go By? The Strange River of Time." (pp.115-123), Quercus Publishing Plc, 2009, London UK. This is an attempt at using poetry to pin down knowledge and truth about the big questions of existence.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014



(For all my Wee Ones* wherever they are or will be.)

1. Here is There

Here is where there is: Do you hear the murmur
of the seawaves laving this shore? It is her caress.
Mother titters gently with her romping children
among the sundown shadows, a flushed horizon
meeting, hugging the sea, Father’s sunburnt face
gleaming ruddy with laughter’s heat, His brows
still etched on crinkled clouds in the waning sky.

The little shadows taunt the limb-grasping tide.
Raucous, when doused at last, their screams
echo their surprised delight drowning whimper

of ebbtide waves now turned to gentle laughter.

2. His Faith

O, that this cacophony of sounds
becomes the noise of a lifetime
this old heart (from all distances)
could hearken to, leap up to  ---

Velvety notes of a joie de vivre
this place was built for, made of,
has grown by, and remembered by.

Is this not, after all, the paradise
he thought was lost in time past
now visited upon his coy dotage
when he still hankers for some joy,
a little life left, while there is time?


Revised, June 18, 2014

*Julian Ashley +, Diana Patricia, Daniel Anthony, Matthew Francis, Taylor Lauren, Megan Sarah, Michael Albert, Sidney Alexis, Chloe Dominique, Louis Martin, and Marie Clementine. Forever infants jumping on my walls at sundown while I lie in my hammock.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Diana Patricia Casuga-Dy, Grandchild #1

(For Diana Patricia Casuga-Dy, Grandchild #1)

1. Lover, Healer, Daughter

A milestone, or a millstone. Her search
For passion and fun requires a distinction.
One negates the other. Knowing her need
And finding what fulfills it---touchstones.
From these turnpikes, she will find home.
Her joy is to serve and heal all afflictions
As she has done to all that drag her down,
And she is happy now. She needs to love.

Did she, will she find her one true passion?
If she has not, she has shaped a millstone
To pull her into yet uncharted dark holes,
The abyss whence she has pulled anchors,
Cast aweigh so she could fly in a span of sky
Gods have assigned as endless corridors
For her flights as lover, healer, a daughter.

2.  A Crowning Milestone

Here she is, scarcely departed in my eye
As the restless infant playing sleepover
At Lolo and Lola’s ocean of a sandbox bed,
Laughing at the start of a quiet lullaby,
Frantically wailing: I wanna go mommy.
Home. "Love," the tired abuela hugs her.
"It is two in the morning. Still sleep time."

She would fall back sobbing, but mornings
Would find her yammering over pancakes
How when she grows big, she will take care
Of  her, Lola and Lola, Sleep in your big bed
and make you good, and strong, and happy.
How can this not be her crowning milestone?

3.  Finding the Dream Patient

Leave-takings are longer now with a healer
Hugging this dotard of an old man: Lolo,
Have your heart repaired again, this time
With a bovine’s valve; the porcine’s tissue
Gave you a good decade and more. Quizzas,
You might even make the century mark.
I will take care of you. I will be with you.

Like that night when she wanted to go home
To her mommy, he kissed her gently again,
And whispered: “Why, Love, I did not know
That I had a bright nurse who is also in search
For her dream patient. I am yours then.
Dream patient or not, I might even ask for soup.
O, you can also cup my heart, hush it, heal it."

Mississauga, June 17, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014


Grandchild #2, Daniel Anthony Casuga-Dy


(For Daniel Anthony Casuga-Dy, 21, Grandchild #2)


1. The Lolo’s Side Show

Protesting , “I am not a side show”, he ran off to his room
Half-naked in his kindergarten pants: I got him! A mantra
I will haunt him with all the rest of his best days. Dan Man.

Would I ask him to sing maybe? Dance? Say twinkle star?
I did, that one time I needed to see my little Danny Boy,
For that one joy grandfathers hunt for: a fishing buddy boy.

But no, he is not a side show. Not for a jig, nor for a song,
Not even for the call from those pipes from glen to glen:
He is not the little show. Not the unheard. Not merely seen.

No, not a little show. No, not the little show. The Big Show.
The littlest rebel did not take long to prove he’s got mettle:
Junior Senior High did he not work at cooking fries? So?

2. Making Up with His Ace Philo Essay

Homework is easy stuff. Home Work is the tough stuff:
Dad got the better of his worn-out ticker; I took an apron.
And wrote that essay which Mom rushed to my sulking Lolo:

“A Gift Outright” the Grand man called it on Father’s Day,
And I remembered Frost had that Inaugural Poem for JFK.
He must think it’s great then, (Mr. Simms called it my best),

The gramps I did not sing for, nor danced for as a “sideshow”
When I was that nude toddler he coaxed as his lump of joy,
Now this pubescent grandson he thought he still knew.

3.  The Essay as I Recall

Daniel’s essay is so like Daniel. Here is that puling little boy
who stormed out, when doted upon by this dimwitted dotard:
“I am not a sideshow, you know!” He was just a wee lad of two
or three then (not even in kindergarten?). Was he not then?

O he was voluble about things he thought he knew, he knew.
An impressive thesis: “One will never truly know whomsoever
we think we know.” (Or "one is forever lonely?"). Filosopo?
Not that kind of charlatan. He is the real thing. Philosopher.

4. The Big Show: A Prelude

Graduation day.  How he regales his audience of lovers.
He laughs, squints, flirts with the damsels, too. Handsome.
College education was a breeze after all. After the struggle.
Moving on, he said, work, graduate work, more capitalist
Ventures on his plate. He is the consummate host to relatives
Godmother, Abuelo, Abuela, Aunts, Dad Nash, Mom Nicole,
Cousins, nephews, nieces, the college and workplace gang,
His sister Diana Patricia, and, he whispered to Lolo: The girls.

He is not a sideshow, all right. I did not misread your essay,
Danny Boy. How little I knew you, mettle and all.  O Dan Man,
Before curtains fall on Lolo’s show, and dotage robs you
Of your victory, I must concede: You have become the Big Show.

Mississauga, June 16, 2014


Sunday, June 15, 2014


The last time I saw my father alive, I was drunk. He snapped at me from his sick bed to stop my snivelling – I was unnecessarily disturbing the other hospice patients. It was past visiting time, anyway.

Before leaving him with my tail between my wobbly legs and pain-numbing inebriation, I ridiculously intoned: Do not go gentle into that good night,/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas must have sneered from his grave. Were they still around in their matriarchal imperiousness in 1975, both maternal and paternal grandmothers would have lashed:
Basta ya las barbaridades! Sin verguenza, Borracho! Donde esta su respeto para su enfermado Papa?
I have never been able to live down this embarrassing moment with a father who was by nature reserved. Not prone to show emotion, it would take him a bottle or two of Cerveza to open up. That also meant, he could be ragingly mad or be quietly sad.

(Inset left: Francisco "Paking" Flores Casuga, (1921-1975)

The one time I saw him truly angry was when he slapped me one for making the entire family panic by not getting home until three in the morning --- (I had to finish the page dummies of the school paper and clean up all the stories for the monthly La Union Tab, our high school newspaper of which I was the chief editor. I wanted to win the top prize for best edited public school paper at that year’s National Secondary Schools Press Conference, after all, the TAB was the pioneer school paper in the islands.) –-- without leaving word that I would be at the La Union High School’s student paper office late into the night.

He roused our school principal, his uncle the vice-principal, the police sergeant neighbour, Mr. Calima, from hard-earned slumber; made expensive long-distance phone calls to relatives in Baguio City, in the northern Philippines, hoping I had gone there with my favourite teen-age cousin for the weekend; even disturbed the much-needed sleep of my school paper adviser, Miss Cleofe Bacungan, father’s high school classmate, their class valedictorian. “Where is my son?”

From a distance, I could espy his furious gait. There he was, my father, at three o’clock in the morning – right in front of the mayor’s house, his cousin, and about to rouse the mayor, too, to invoke Tio Antonio Ferraren’s assistance.

“Dad, Dad, what are you doing here?” I called out.

He turned around (after remonstrating with the mayor’s sentries to gain entry), and with jaws taut and eyes in an angry slit, snapped: “Punieta! Where were you all this time?” and I felt the sharp sting on my nape. The mayor came down in time to save my skin. He held my Dad’s second whack, and said: “Easy, Primo. That’s my scholar. (He promised to lend Father some hefty dollars for my fare to the United States as an American Field Service Scholar.) “Take them home,” he ordered the house guard.

When we got home, I had another harangue from a furious but relieved mother. “Where did you go? Why did you not send word? You, you…” Father held me on both shoulders and simply said: “Go to the bed. Explain tomorrow.”

For a while, I considered running away from home (Why not? Wasn’t I a typical teener?). I was too tired to even cry, and was afraid, if I did, I would get the old man hopping mad that I am not taking all this (my great undoing) like a man (which I pretended to be, anyway.)

“What did you do to him?” I heard my mother ask him. I heard him sigh one of those deep, prolonged ones he would take after controlling himself from throwing a punch at someone who has just peeved him. Silence. (Yes, I saw him hit an uncouth young man yelling profanities at a weeping waitress, one time that I was asked by mother to fetch him from his favourite watering hole. The police took the half groggy rogue to sleep off his gin-induced inebriation to the municipal jail, and apologized to my father for the disturbance!)

I asked my uncle, his younger brother, how he could do that with one punch, and he told me Father was provincial meet amateur flyweight champion boxer when he was in high school. He was quick because he was also a shortstop in the high school baseball team that won that year’s championship because he caught a fly ball that could have edged them out, but caught it with his nose and glove, blood and all, and that’s the story behind his “less-than aquiline nosebridge” looking more Japanese than his Spanish-mestizo-looking siblings who had more patrician nosebridges!

When he was sad, he was lachrymose.

That time he was called to an urgent emergency meeting with our school principal, he learned that I might not graduate valedictorian of our class, because I led a fight outside of the campus to beat the daylights out of the banker’s son who was the student chief of police in our Junior Government, where I was Senior class Governor. The late Santiago de la Cruz and his assistant, Andres Oreiro, thought I was the gang-leader of that out-of-school mayhem. What would the banker say?

My father asked for an investigation. It turned out, I was too late in joining the melee against this much-hated boy police chief (he would push boys and girls alike to create straight lines during Monday convocations), and was nowhere near the fight. My teachers rallied behind me, and my school paper adviser staked her position to vouch for my being a more “responsible student” than that. The Pre-Military Training teacher said, he would resign if I was disqualified as “valedictorian.” My woodworking teacher told my dad over beer that even if I could make only a crude semblance of a hanger and bric-a-brac for my woodworking projects, he will come to bat for me. And plotted to get drunk and disturb the graduation ceremonies, if I did not graduate valedictorian.

Enter my grand-uncle Abuelo Jose “Pepe” Apilado Casuga, then the provincial auditor, and he asked if the harsh punishment for say “a first offence, if offence it was – you will have to prove that” – is warranted. “My grandson has proven his worth to this high school,” he told the well-meaning principal.

Did he not win interscholastic medals for your school by getting the gold medal for Best High School Newspaper at the press conference? Did he not on his own win medals for his writing the best editorial and doing the best copyediting? What about winning first prize in the oratorical contest during the provincial speech contests? The American Field Scholarship grant, a first for this high school? Would a fistfight, typical of boys—and boys will be boys—negate all this? I ask for your enlightened consideration, Mr. Principal, as your respectful provincial auditor.

In later years, I would hear my Lolo Pepe recount the incident, and he would shake his head. “Budget time for high schools occur every year. I would see them there whether they like it or not pleading for their budgets from the scarce provincial coffers.”

When he came home from the meeting, my father told my mother that I might not graduate valedictorian because of the fight. I saw them enter their room, and I heard my father’s muffled sobs (my mother said much much later after his demise on December 5, 1975, he sobbed into their pillow, and she saw him punch his pillow in frustration. No remonstrations from him that evening.)

I graduated valedictorian eventually. When father and my mother came up the stage to pin the gold medal on me, I asked them not to cry. He stroked my face with half-closed knuckles, and mother pinched me in my arm. There was a prolonged ovation. I looked at my “gang mates” – those who fessed up to their role in the fight. They, too, were graduating. My school paper adviser who delivered that grad day opening remarks as adviser of the senior class of 1958-59, stood silently to my father’s right, winked at him, and hugged me. She whispered: Be a good boy, or I’ll come after you, and your father.

What did she mean by that? I asked my father later that night. He smiled and said, she was the classmate who shamed us boys into stopping a fight at the old library building. She said to shut up and study for the final examinations, or she’ll start pinching our ears. We were all gentlemen, then, son. We obeyed our brightest classmate. Look at how she saved your honours, too!

Miss Bacungan left for Manila the following year to become Director of the Philippine Science School. LUHS’s loss, the nation’s gain. When father died, she sent me a long letter of condolence and a copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, all the way from California’s Stanford University where she would finish her Science Doctorate.

My father asked me to explain the following day after the “incident”, what I was up to by coming home in the wee hours of the morning, creating a disturbance in the entire town which will not be forgotten soon. I said, I was sorry, it will not happen again.

The mayor lent father the money to pay for my fare to the US to join the AFS program to take up a final high school year at the New York Free Academy. But my grandmother died that March, and the money went into her burial expenses instead. My father said, I should look at it as a year saved to go to university where my girlfriend was also going, and what kind of a scholarship is that anyway where they would not have to foot your travel fare? After all, they were interested in getting a Filipino live in an American home to learn more about their former colonials? My gain, AFS' loss?

Lolo Toning, the former mayor, never asked for father to pay the loan back. I got to thank him profusely years later when President Marcos’ Executive Secretary Jacobo Clave and I, as members of the President’s Civil Service teams travelling the entire breadth and length of the country, went to San Fernando, La Union, to campaign for the leader's 12-year Development Program.

The former mayor asked me if it was true that the President was going to replace him under the martial law dispensation – and that he was going to be replaced by a certain Albert B. Casuga.

I said, there were petitions from the market vendors sent to the President asking for my appointment vice Mayor Antonio T. Ferraren. Apparently, the instigators were other relatives who were not happy that the mayor has not paid attention to them like he did relatives of his wife (who was then cornering the tobacco business in La Union).

I have no ambitions toward that end, abuelo, I said. I kissed his hand in the old and traditional sign of respect and trust, and turned to walk to the stage to deliver my speech. The electric current suddenly conked out – and my speech and the Executive Secretary’s were called thereafter as the best speeches that were never delivered.

As a practising writer and professor at two leading Catholic universities established by the Benedictines and Christian Brothers many many years later, I finally wrote a final valediction forbidding mourning for my father:

Returning to the Root

“Will courage Redeem stupidity?”
-- Nick Joaquin

There is a manner of returning to the root
that explains the virtue of a hole,
its quietness the petering circle:
The canon of the cipher indicts us all.

And you, rocking yourself to an eddy,
drown the death wish: O that grief
on sons’ faces could tell you all.
“Will courage be visited upon my children?”

It is this cut whittles the tree down,
not of consumption but of fright
that bereaving is one’s splintering
of children’s bones. Death is our betrayal.

They are sons gaping as grandfathers die
shapes the gloom of the breaking circle.
They who knew the frenzy of the bloodcry
must never return to find sons become spittle.

That year, after his death, the poem was adjudged the Grand Prize Winner of the first Philippine national Parnasso Poetry Writing Contest. A handsome trophy sculpted by noted Philippine sculptor Edwin Castrillo and a princely sum of a thousand pesos made me happy. Father must have returned the favour. But he was no longer around to applaud. I would not even have minded a slap on the nape.

On this Father’s Day, June 21, 2009, many summer solstices later, I remember Father.
When he died after his 40 days stay at the hospice, his last words to my mother were “I am sorry. Forgive me.” They could have been my own farewell words, had I hastened home to San Fernando to kiss his hand and bid him goodbye. He did not wait for me, could not. He knew I must have been involved again in another “earthshaking” project like that school paper; only this time he knew I was working for the Ilocano’s pride: President Ferdinand Marcos at the Malacanang Palace. He liked that. The community would ask about me. He would simply smile.

Yes, Father. I remember you again today, like I always do, every day of this ageing life:
“They who knew the frenzy of the bloodcry,
Must never return to find sons become spittle

If you return in some flight of the spirit, like I always feel you do, in dreams or remembrances, mark only, dear father, that I have not become spittle.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Matthew Francis Casuga, 17, Grandchild #3
Matthew Francis with two friends from St. Joseph's Catholic Secondary School. No, they do not play football.


(For Matthew, Grandchild # 3, On His Football Debut)

Was it a random number, Matthew?
Or did you choose to call attention
to your grandmother’s 68th birthday?
Why not the next naughty number?

She peered through her Leica camera
but could not see you nor make you out
among those sweaty gnashing giants
who could have been the drooling babies
not so long ago. She yelped out a gasp
of delighted surprise when she espied you
on the zoom: How do you zoom on his face?
Zoom in on, I lisped a feigned idiot’s shrug.

From afar, she could still see a puling boy
who could not even throw a ball. She yelled:
Omigod, look at him barrel through that lad
blocking his run! He would hurt the boy
or get himself broken! It sounded like a sob.

I could not help but look for the mayhem
I came to watch his football debut for:
Who will dare bump him? My little boy,
all bulked up, war-primed, brute strong,
could throw a  pigskin to God knows where.
Oooh yes, pitch the first blocking body, too.
“Bloody idiot”, he would snap a growl, a snarl,
really. But if he were within hearing distance,
she would upbraid him: Matthew Francis,
language! He would snicker but curl away.

She watched him through tear-stained lenses,
and stifled a cry: My little boy.  A big man now.
Strange. At sixty-eight, I, too, felt old and weak.

Revised, o6-13-2014

09-21-11: When he was 14, Matthew Francis Casuga, third eldest grandchild, was an instant choice by a drooling coach when he applied for his high school’ s football team. A little while ago, he was just our little boy who would weep at the sight of a fly on his arm.