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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, January 12, 2015




This selection of love poems is for Alma Anonas and Relly Carpio whose love for each other has strengthened them this far to carry on despite the dread of Relly's stroke that has disturbed their otherwise productive lives. I thought this is as good a Valentine's story as any, if it means to celebrate love, loving, and living. Mabuhay, Alma and Relly.**


Surely there must be a way… /…to dwell without/rancor or remorse in moments when I /might press my face against your nape/to catch that drifting note—/unnameable, unmistakable, stirring/even my sorrows into fragrance. --- From “Reprieve” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 08-02-11  

It is the way of beauty and of virtue you require,
the canon forgotten in our striving for the wind.  

Come hither, anyway, hide your pain in the cup
of my hands, find that reprieve from a judgment  

of endlessly inchoate loving, and let your heart
rest from its ceaseless running. Escape stops here.  

Should I then pledge fealty to being your gaoler?
Should I find you an open cage to freely return to?  

But these will only be tethers that must bind you
when all you pray for is to be loved and unafraid.  

Now, therefore, with all my courage, and all
that I can grant, I absolve you from this price  

of laying your life down for the countless kisses
you have given and not taken any in return. 

---Albert B. Casuga


…If I disappeared into one of the ruby-red rooms/of the pomegranate, would you stain/your fingers to search for me?---From “Each Question is Always the Same Question” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 08-11-11

You could not hide from me if you tried,
no ruby-red chambers have room enough
to shield you from my dowse, my heart’s
divining rod, I will find you. I must.  

Would stains stop me? Neither will filth.
Each question you ask will be the same
question I will always seek to answer
if this search shall take me from here  

to the last seed that would have sprouted
from dry clay hiding your eyes, your limbs,
your mouth in each branch or leaf, or twig.
I shall kiss them all, and I will find you.

---Albert B. Casuga



How long does wood need to steep,/to stay alive long enough with clay/it loves in the kiln?---From “Each Question is Always the Same Question” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 08-11-11 

I would take forever, if I were wood, to steep
in peacock colours and stand tall as a totem
pole. But I am still an uncut trunk, a lookout
point really, staying true to a palabra de honor.*  

On my word of honour, even when I am felled
to provide fire for cauldrons or heat for kiln,
I will stay alive long enough as ember until
you have been formed as that earthen jar  

to hold what we have always wanted to keep:
all the love and promise moulded in crucibles
of passion molten at last as honey to last us
to the end of our journey beyond these woods.  

This kiln fire would have long cooled down,
before the flame of this palabra de honor,
my troth and my word, would have flared out.
My trunk will be imbued with lustrous red soon. 

---Albert B. Casuga

*Palabra de honor ---A word of honour, a troth that one is ready to live or die for. 


Summer turns its coat/…sleeves out, and makes a promise the way you do:/no vows, no witnesses but for a few letters/in the sand. But I row, you row; we both do.---From “Turning” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 08-21-11 

It is what we do when we are in an open sea,
locked in roiled waters on uncertain weather:
you row like my life depended on it, I row
you away from your fears that somewhere,
sometime, in this abiding turbulence, I will
absently dive into the dark depths and stay
under, finding solace from not resurfacing,
when bobbing up for air means we have to row
into a shore of rocks, run aground, and dash
like the homing waves into a brackish boulder.  

But I am rowing back with you to that sandbar
where I etched the letters framed in a pierced
heart that has yet to be erased by ebbing tide.
Will you find time then to write your promise?

---Albert B. Casuga

* Eleven months after a stroke, Relly de Guzman Carpio hangs on with all the loving care he is getting from his writer wife Alma Anonas-Carpio. In a recent Facebook post, Alma writes about how she has so far steeled herself with courage despite a steady barrage of angst and dread. I thought that if there was a love story to mark Valentine's Day, this was it. Read Alma's Notes, 11th MONTH, "Dear Relly," in her Facebook post.

**Culled from previously posted poems in this blog.