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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014




(For Chloe Dominique Lalonde, Grandchild #8)

“Adios, adios, abuelo.
Te Amo. Je T'aime! Mahal Kita! Luv ya!”
---- Chloe speaking in tongues.

A glimmer of a sylph on the gossamer bay,
She pirouettes and is gone into her chrysalis
Not unlike the sylvan truants that waylay
The wary wanderer among the trees,

Or the papillon flitting from blossom to bramble,
Hidden but always there, some surprise grace,
A magical fairy light to dispel the creeping pall
Coiled on the winter ennui of fallen days ---

O, she dandles dearly with her ragged ragdoll,
Caressingly delicate in a wistful pas de deux
Of her shadow Fonteyn caught in a sudden fall
By a prancing Baryshnikov vaulting off the shadow.

Was that his pas de chat to snatch her from disaster?
Quickly now, urgently now, hold the hapless Dame
As would a cat curl on the legs of its Master,
Dream now of a demure pas de bourree of fame,

While dreams still enthrall, while the dancing
Is still your language of love, of boundless courage,
While the arguments of your young body moving
To the beats of passion are still the true language

Of the good, the honest, and the beautiful:
Until then, mon amour, these decrepit hands cannot
Stop the deluge of fear, of hurt, and of the frightful
That would drown us all, before our windows are shut.

Even now, as you wave from your window,
I know you will be brave.





(For Louis Martin Lalonde, Grandchild #9)

1. Wiping Him Dry

Grow like the creek, as did this wisp of a boy
rising from the water, hallooing:
Look, abuelo,I can dive, I can swim!
He wiggled his salva vida floating to the edge,
his face toward the bright blue sky: I am good!
As all grandfathers would, he said: You are!

Oh, you are, my boy. And while I wipe you dry
after this dousing frolic, I run my hands over
your body, cleaning it of any tinge of dry clay,
loathe to think that if I were shaping you
from the mud East of Eden, I’d want you pure,
unalloyed, a cherubic imp of a teaser, a laughter
tickled out of a dream, a pure delight, and clean.

2. Yet Another Robot

He would build them with empty soda cans,
recycled wire, parts unknown until they move.
Look, abuelo, a robot! Whence comes this love
for all things foreign to this dotard askance
about why little lads like him would prattle
about apps and some such instead of apples?

3. Like the River

Under his breath, he also lisped a wistful
plea to the walls around him or whoever
could hear an old man’s prayer:

Please, let him build them strong, and not
destroy; and for my
nieto jovencito, to never
forget that there are grander castles in the air.
Please, let him grow like the creek,
when freed of silt will turn to clearest blue.
O let him flow like the river and find his sea.




  (For Marie Clementine, Grandchild #10)

Do you hear that rhythmic titter from the ebbtide, wee lass?
And the hiss from the sundown waves that mimics whistles
or calls of “encore”: an unbridled adoration if you ask us,
but I might just be bantering about old enchanted mortals
who have long asked whence, when, how, why, what haven,
have you come from to shower this grace on our little lives?

Dance, wee lass of all hearts. It is still the loveliest beau geste
to this sun and sea that have claimed you their own sweet child,
their bright pulsing star, their dancing laughing girl, their best
balm for all the ills of the Earth, O, our star on darkest eventides,
wee lass, to last us until the end of all that is beautiful and wild!



Mississauga, September 30, 2014


Sunday, September 28, 2014


Sydney's mock-up of a Website which she made as a class project. Just a small proof of what she can do in her art work.


When I saw Sydney perform in a recent play at her school, I was not surprised she could do an extremely good job of playing the lead part of Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” She is a natural for that role; she has courage to stand for what she believes in, but she does not fail to show compassion for others. Sydney, whom I jokingly call “Disney”, now and then, laughs readily at this, but would hasten to correct me for a misspelling of her name (Sidney, boy’s name) in my Facebook posts---a sense of humour, obviously, but someone who finds no excuse for ignorance (hence, a sensitive nature; one who can be frank and honest about calling attention to this); yet, she does this without malice, and she easily gets along with others by being adaptable to situations she could not control; at the same time, she would not hesitate to lead in an effort to learn what is good for her and her group of friends. She also displays her sensitiveness in her love for art (drawing, writing stories and poems, acting, singing, playing the piano, and carousing with her sister and cousins when they get together at family parties and reunions. My wife, her grandmother, thinks Sydney is frugal, yet generous (when her parents involve them in a family project) with money she has earned from rewards for doing chores at home, for getting A’s in school; I agree, because I have seen her offer her savings without being asked. She is caring and kind not in an ingratiating way, but even worries about her godmother, our oldest daughter---whom she endearingly calls “Mimang” (a combination of Mama-auntie and Ninang or godmother) ---who chose to remain single (Syd, obviously equates married life to a haven of happy families, which is why she  enjoys being with her cousins, grandparents (both sides), and her aunts and her uncles. Look, five sentences that could belong to a single but long paragraph; it is not enough for me, really, because I could write more as a loving and admiring grandfather: i.e., she is a good child, grandchild, niece, cousin, student, and a grateful Canadian citizen.


LOLO Albert B. Casuga  J

 This is that long paragraph in her website mock-up which I wrote as part, I think , of what I happily consider my "apostolic" function with my grandchildren (in our dialect, APO, or granddaughter, or nieta.)
Below, Sydney and I on her 12th birthday, June 25, 2014.

Friday, September 26, 2014


TODAY'S POEM. I revised a poem I wrote three days ago. Which format would you prefer as a reader? Which one as a poet or a literary critic? If you don't mind, please tell me why you choose one over the other. (The more readable and simpler, the better.) HELP!
1. The Consummation of an Ecstasy

If the dreaded hurts we abandoned on the trail
were memories that needed to be closed like doors
that must not open again;

if they were cut up bodies of ghosts
whose bleeding were balm to raw wounds
we sport around as insignias of deathless lovers
guised in the defiant faces of lovelorn clowns
masked in scowls standing in for love and laughter;

if we are finally done, after all these years, with hate
as masquerades of despair and burning need;

if we swear here, now, and onto our dying days and death
that we will scrape our graves open with our fealty
to an unquenchable love;

then, let us die in this ecstasy.


 Revised, September 25, 2014 From the following version as part of two poems.

2. The Consummation of an Ecstasy

If the dreaded hurts we abandoned on the trail
were memories that needed to be closed like doors
that must not open again; if they were cut up bodies
of ghosts whose bleeding were balm to raw wounds
we sport around as insignias of deathless lovers
guised in the defiant faces of lovelorn clowns
masked in scowls standing in for love and laughter;
if we are finally done, after all these years, with hate
as masquerades of despair and burning need; if we
swear here, now, and onto our dying days and death
that we will scrape open our graves with our fealty
and unquenchable love; then, let us die in this ecstasy.


 September 22, 2014 From "The Final Conversation".
Glen Erin Trail, Mississauga


Monday, September 22, 2014


TODAY’S POEM: Love among the Shadows. "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.


(For Nicky)

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

1. Questions and Caveats

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.

2.  The Consummation of an Ecstasy

If the dreaded hurts we abandoned on the trail
were memories that needed to be closed like doors
that must not open again; if they were cut up bodies
of ghosts whose bleeding were balm to raw wounds
we sport around as insignias of deathless lovers
guised in the defiant faces of lovelorn clowns
masked in scowls standing in for love and laughter;
if we are finally done, after all these years, with hate
as masquerades of despair and burning need; if we
swear here, now, and onto our dying days and death
that we will scrape open our graves with our fealty
and unquenchable love; then, let us die in this ecstasy.

September 22, 2014, Glen Erin Trail, Mississauga

Thursday, September 18, 2014


TODAY'S POEM: They will grow strong. They will fly the coop. We have to learn how to let go. But how can love for them wean them from unending, unconditional love? Empty Nests are for the birds.


(For Katrina, the Ukrainian ...
Mother I met on my walk through the park. She was worried not only about her old mother who suffers from ailments of the ageing, but also about her own two little children {one in junior kindergarten she has to bring to school and go back to bring her warm food at lunch time]. For her anxieties and physical pains (early ageing pains at 45), I could only offer how often I miss my wee lads and lasses (grandchildren) on my dotage, but I have learned to let them go, as she would her mother and children in quite different departures, but leaving her still. Alone one day.

I told her she has her husband to grow old with, travel far with, watch the evening star together with, while they try to build their heaven together. She managed a smile, thanked me for the empathetic conversation, but I also brought tears to her eyes. I like to believe this repays the kindness I have encountered with the besieging "angels" I have met:

--- Wee children laughing with me; a happy ICU nurse laughing about how now that I am up and about after heart surgery I am blocking customers from shelves or produce and checkout counters; a kid who broke his leg and waiting for his mom to pick him up from the infirmary whose ambition is to become a policeman ("will your leg be healed enough then when you become the police chief of Brampton", I joshed Dante---a black lad---and he laughed aloud for the fist time in our waiting conversation, stuck two thumbs up before limping into their car (he was shy); and a happy bubbly cashier who gave my wife a chocolate bar when she found out from the banter it was the Goddess' birthday and that she has put me to work by bagging our groceries---

All of them my wife and daughter simply described as "nice people who are still around" (not your "imagined winged cherubs and seraphims, Dad," the wizened daughter says).

"Amor con amor se paga". (Repay love with love) I hope Katrina is happier now having unburdened herself with her fears. I listened quietly. She kept on talking about her dreads. Introduced herself and addressed me by my name. Then she left with her daughter sleeping in a pram with a smile and a warm wave of her hand. "Hope to see you again. You're so nice," she said in parting.

I waved back "goodbye" but also murmured "hello" to a smiling although beleaguered mother and daughter. From afar, she waved good-day but not goodbye..

I dedicate these poems and all the angel who "besieged me" when I needed to feel I am still on the good side of Our Lord.

1. An Uncertain Quiet

They will discover strength on their wings,
and, soon enough, they will find the sky,
and they will abandon these nests to fly
wherever their questions bring them.
However wild they are, they will ask them:
How far is the sun from this burnt branch?
Soon enough, even their needy nesting sound
will give way to breast-beating flutter of wings,
and they will be gone with the strangest wind
that scoops them off from an unsteady home
of inadvertent chances, and catch-as-catch can.
Icarus-like, they must test their flaccid wings
against the sinews of a wild summer wind. O.
Is this uncertain quiet an augury of mourning?

2. Her Vigil

It will not cease, nor will the smell of grass
supplant the scent of brine from this sea,
this angst from absence that was not worth it.
I must keep their plates on the table. Keep vigil.
They will come home, even as hints of shadows.
I must keep their beds warm, however cold they
left them. They will come back from the storm.
It will soon be over before they know it. I know.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SNAKES OF LIFE (John 3:14-21)

SNAKES OF LIFE (John 3:14-21)

Influenced by cultural beliefs and perhaps by experiences of being bitten, many people dislike snakes, fear them even. Snakes are associated with mythological Medusa or Valentina who had disgusting snakes for hair on their heads. For many people snakes have come to be symbols of evil, of temptation, and reminder of “man’s fall from grace” in the garden of Eden. Today we call traditional politicians, human rights violators, traitors snakes. Pity the snakes!

In some old cultures snakes were worshiped. For the Aztecs and some tribes of Africa and India, it was a heinous crime punishable by death to kill snakes. For them snakes symbolized Life because they spring from Mother Earth, the giver of life. The snake/Life protects or harms depending on how it/Life is honored. They got that right! Today, two snakes coiled around a staff is a medical symbol of healing and life, reminding all that medicine was discovered in ancient Greecewhen one Aesculapius saw a snake applying herbs to heal the wounds of a fellow snake.

In the Old Testament God rehabilitated the snake as a symbol of life (Num. 21:8ff). When the Israelites spoke against God and Moses in the desert, and made it clear that they preferred Egypt that had exploited and oppressed them, God sent venomous snakes to bite the people. Many got sick; many died. When the people regained their senses and repented, the Lord said to Moses: “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” And so a bronze snake, life from Mother Earth, was put up. Life was restored to the Israelites. God’s message was: “Prefer life, even if it be in the desert, over death disguised as life in Egypt!”

Later the Israelites forgot God who cured them, and adored bronze snakes instead. The priests destroyed the graven images of snakes. But when the people felt God had abandoned them, they simply shifted allegiance to other idols worse than snakes.

So that people would honor life and not make the mistake of attributing life to snakes, idols, science, state power, industrial and financial superpowers, or to themselves, Jesus asserts himself as the giver of life, nay, as Life itself. “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life”, he says. (Jn. 14:6) For spiritual and even physical healing, of themselves and their institutions, people are to look to Jesus and be born again. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that every one who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:14) The snake as symbol has been replaced by the reality of Life itself. People are to prefer life in all its forms to death in all its forms, specially illusions of life.

The most important thing in life is Life itself. And in the logic of faith, if Jesus is theLife, then he is and should be the most important being in life. We are invited to be one with him – to be born again of water and the Spirit to have life here and in the hereafter! (Jn. 3:5); and to let his humanity and divinity coil around us that we too may be symbols of life like a caduceus. All are called to be born again into the life of Jesus. What does this mean?

What is to have life in Jesus? It is to be born into his mode of thinking and have the life of his mind beyond mind (“metanoite,” he said), appreciative of all creation, appreciative of the world of neighbor, appreciative of the knowledge of the Father and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit; appreciative of the ways of sin and grace.

One must be born again into the truth of Jesus. And this means rejecting the lie that life is absurd; that I am not loved; that the past hopelessly repeats itself with its injustice and sufferings; that there is no future, and that history ends with capitalism; that a globalized capitalist world is the paradise-end of history. The truth is that God has declared all life good; that he so loved the world that he sent his only begotten so not to condemn but to save it; that in the desert of my loneliness and absurdity his word is manna and light; that in the deserts of exploitation and oppression, of martial rule and states of national emergency, snakes of life are lifted up all over the world: the snakes of progressive people’s movements and organizations, renewed democratic local communities and churches for healing, inspiration, and replication; that the past opens to a future of a new heaven and a new earth in time; that with us with God all is possible.

One must have life in the way of Jesus. This is the way of his ministry: to proclaim the good news to people, institutions, and all creation, and to heal these if they are spiritually or physically sick. It is ministry in our respective ways and stations of life to “preach good news to the poor… to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Lk. 4:18-19) It is the way of struggle for justice and peace; for salvation and liberation. It is the way of the cross, but one that leads to resurrection.

Being born again into Jesus is sharing his Being-with-the-Father. Jesus prayed: “... that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (Jn. 17:21) As sure as God is God, his prayer will be granted; is being granted. We share his being by being in his grace, in his word, in his love and in his love of God and neighbor. We share his being in prayer with him, in him and through him, in union with the Holy Spirit.

And so Jesus is lifted up like the snake of life of old. He looks down on us in love and mercy, and draws us to himself -- that we might have life and have it abundantly. But we must be at the foot of the cross. Else, we miss the gift of Life, or it misses us.

Choose Life! (Deut. 30:19) #

Rev. Fr. Francisco R. Albano
Diocese of Ilagan

Tuesday, September 2, 2014



(For Father and Mother)

1. His Heartache

How much of a pain is too much?
Is it a bottomless wound, gaping
like the sun when the dark sky
ought really to be shroud of gloom?

Must it cut through every layer
of lost time blurring remembrance?
It will not scab over, it is forever
like all sunrises and all sundowns.

Those haunting eyes that follow him
from the picture resting on a wall
now peeled off its once bright colour,
is the shape of that unending heartache.

“I will cut my heart out before I forsake
you, madre querida,” he promised her
at his father’s deathbed. Like that bright
gaping wound in a naked, blackened sky,

it is a raw sunburst that makes her smile
on the stalking picture a piercing sneer.
How much of pain is too much?
Not as much as her silence even in pain.

2. His Heart’s Wound

When he droned his last tone-deaf hum,
he also threw the blood-stained scalpel
like a squashed fly off his ruffled sleeve,
pronounced his work a thing of beauty,
and snapped off his drooled-on mask:

“All done. Great cut. Clean up, please.”
He patted the thinly heaving body’s chest:
the wan poet “etherised upon a table”,
he smirked, knowing  then who his patient
was, a wordsmith at the school on the hill.

Yeomanly, she quietly salved the wound,
“a nurse of my heart, O, my nightingale,”
he flirted before submitting to the knife;
surprised, she stammered: “A Crucifix!”
Etched deftly under her gentle fingers
was a tree on the Hill of Skulls at an angle
bright and ruddy on his mottled breast.

“Hence forward,” he said, finding the cut
staring at him the days after,  “my cross
to bear, a troth to Mother and Father,
lest I forget that they waited for their son
before they left.  But I was not there.”
How much pain will this Cross be? Pain?
Not as much as their silence even in pain.
Mississauga, September 2, 2014