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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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


TODAY'S POEM: Where one will find a final sanctuary. How does one get there? What kind of a refuge is it?


(For Dreamers)

Stand still. Find your still point.
You will find a sanctuary there.

All the wind you can whistle for
will run through you like spirits
hovering, pulling you through
all the small boxes keeping you
your own unshackled prisoner,
moored to fears fencing you in
like the pages of a book bound
to a rind, like a caged sparrow
perched on a bar will hop down
rather than fly in narrow air.

When you get there, that place
will not be there till you find it.
Build it from fondest dreams,
house them in open chambers.
Let the winds of everywhere
and everything rifle through
its corridors to find you free,
unafraid to roam elsewhere
because you know there is this
still point to go home to. Always.

--- Albert B. Casuga

 Mississauga, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


TODAY'S POEM was prompted by a line from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran about pain being the beginning of understanding. Is it the prize of having to wait till we get back to our final home? Where might this be? We lived briefly in a home we could not have. When we got it built, we had to leave. The pain is knowing we got a raw deal, or knowing that, we will know why and understand. Time to stop then. Time to Sum up Accept that pain is one's gain --- it can only lead us back... to a happy place we have lost but will regain.


"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. / And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief."-- Khalil Gibran, "The Prophet"

Looking for a good time to stop,
is to stop looking like slumping
on a fallen trunk or a trail rock
jagged and jutting out of the bluff.

Morning walks get longer along
empty spaces before familiar curbs
signal a turn to what we wait for:
the final bend. We are back home.

Because we have seen the clues,
because we have seen them all
already, I feel it is time to stop
waiting, sum up the bill, and go.

What was I given to bear the pain
of knowing that I did not know?
Or build a home I could not live in?
What tools must I now return?

In summing up, I will discount this,
in the game of haggling for a place
back in the Garden. Our stay here
was overpaid. We waited too long

for that room with a better view,
that terrace with a canopy of roses,
and blue birds trilling on the sill.
O, for a touch of that distant sky!

Now Albert is coming back,
make yourself a bit smart.”* Eliot,
of course, said it for me earlier.

How long ago was that, when I
read those Wasteland lines? How
long have I waited to use them?
Is this a good time, yet? I waited.

Next time around, if there is one,
I will be smart. I will settle only for
a room where I could see the sky
and the sea conspire to eat the sun.

---Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, November 18, 2014

* T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, II. A Chess Game, T. S. Eliot, The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950)


Monday, November 17, 2014



(For Luisa Igloria who Abhors “Othering”)

Is this dome of midnight stars 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?

Somewhere a wing roils the air that the other
breathes. Somewhere the tremulous murmur
of a prayer is answered. Somewhere an old
question is asked: Am I my brother’s keeper?

---Albert B. Casuga
Mississauga, November 16, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014



(For Father Francisco R. Albano)

It is what he has absently forgotten,
that he still abides in a strange gyroscope
of happenstance of giving and taking,
of coming and going, visions and revisions.

If he had his druthers, he’d rather not be given:
too little time for too much to give back on.
A keen eye to see both sides of a magic coin?
Be a magistrate then, look for the right and just.

Or a poet who sees both sides of a wall. Or mirror.
When someone sent him a throne of words,
he built cathedrals of thought no one understood.
“It’s poetry, mon ami!” He said it’s worth a shrug.

Like cold tea. He struggles in his windy spaces
to finish the promise of the Word to be his word,
that he might give back the flame he borrowed,
and say, “I kept your Fire and gave it Fervour.”

---Albert B. Casuga

Monday, November 10, 2014



November 11, 2014


(For all War Widows and Lovers)

She must go back there, one way or the other,
it is a dive into her origin. Why not a caress?
She will need one to get to the other. Knowing
them all, the smell of the brine, of pungent
sweat on the backs of the lads who carried
her into the church then floating with mud:

They held her gingerly by her thighs, ruffles
wafting in the unseasonal wind, her panuelo
lashing their faces then glistening lustfully
as they stole forbidden glances at her clean
legs dangling, kicking furtively at their sides.
Drenching her, breaking waves urge her return.

She could still taste the rice coffee on his lips
when he kissed her mouth and vowed his troth.
He left for a war, and could not come home,
cut down at some shore wading toward a hail
of sand and pebble, dying for God and country,
yet could not crawl back to live by his promise.

She must go back there, to lie on that shore
at sundown, drench herself with his tardy touch,
as waves break frenziedly on her breasts and
caress her gently with the ebbing tide, when
she goes home. Laughing, the waves said so,
as she felt them turn warm around her bare calf.

---Albert B. Casuga



For Guerrilla Comrades

The nape is a natural anchor; dancers
can tell how swiftly rhythmic footwork
become gyrations close enough to know
that she will not fall from his embrace.

This is how it should have always been:
he , being led by her wide steps caught
quickly off by a frenzy of thighs playing
the evening’s tease --- They are yours,

however you want them, if you can
catch them lithely tripping the light
--- she, a laughing Jezebel,
grown bold with giggles of an ingénue.

What they would give, if they could hold
on to that night they danced, absently
ignoring the high command’s summons
of storming Corregidor* at break of dawn.

He said it would be a brief encounter;
will be back before she digs her fingers
into some rough folds of a dancer’s nape,
and feels a strange tickle on her hands.

I shall keep my night lamp lit all day long,
you know which window to climb through
But the nights never ended, the dance did.
She now idles by her window counting waves.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Corregidor -- Philippine warfront WWII. Readers may simply replace this with any place where guerrilla movements exist. The context is hospitable to all lost love.



Thursday, November 6, 2014



1. The Other

What if this place were made only for the other?
You are yourself, but you are also others’ other.
Were you conceived for yourself, or for a specie?

Someone must extend the process of evolution.
Your first act out of the womb was to let out a cry.
Was it not to alert the birthing other you’re here?
And you will bring joy to a union forged in dreams,
but you could always be the unwanted obligation.

What if you were the inevitable happenstance
come from the aches of groin and gravid reasons?
Are you an issue of love or lust? An afterthought?
When did you start to even aspire to be yourself?

Dare you grow then to even ask: What do I want?
What do I need? Selfish angst? No. Must-ask ones.


2. Compassion

One cannot give what one does not have, operatio
sequitur esse.
Find and feed your hunger to know
what you are here for. Are you a brother’s keeper?
Or does a lover keep you? Either way, a hunger.

If you were for the other, you must be provident;
but fill your tills first before giving a ruddy cent.
Is your neighbour the village thief? Love him.
Clothe the naked, as you would with a fig leaf.

Before long, you would have guessed how little
you are without the other, and learn to whistle
in the dark, and wait, and build, and gather
behind walls, until, one on top of the other,

you begin to climb beyond your pauper space
to occupy a lost garden, a haven, as your place.


Revised November 5, 2014, Mississauga