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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (01/31/2016):

(For all the old friends)

Why is growing old gracefully the measure
of what we look forward to when we write
each other these days? How old can we get?

Will our little rose gardens occupy our days
like we always did, lancing out thorns from
their trembling hands as they grew away?

Why can’t we have them snivelling around
instead of listening to our mumbled curses
as the thorny branches whip our wrinkles?

Where is the grace in pining at sundowns
for those shadowy remembrances when lads
were boys and lasses were screaming girls?

When will those album pictures, grown faint
now on brittle pages, jump out of the plastic
binders racing to kiss our hands at angelus?

Where, what sunlit places, would I see them
frolicking free from fears, writing love notes
on some clean sand before tides take them?

Who will bring that cold glass of lemon tea
while we rock our tired backs on chairs
perched on porches made for these sunsets?

What grace, what balm is left, growing old
and feeling gray, shall be our final measure
for how gracefully we have received the end

of days, of answers to whispered questions
of why, when, where, and how have hearts
turned cold in old houses no longer home.



MY POEM TODAY (01/30/2016) 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. @ (Andre Gide's idea of a happier life when one if ready to die, and a remembrance of "Wasteland' by T.S. Eliot)


"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

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY (01/28/2016) WERE PROMPTED BY A QUOTE FROM DEEPAK CHOPRA posted in Minnie Roiles' Come Out and Shine.



"This returning to the root is called quietness."--- Lao Tzu

Memories are needs reshaped as still points,
if they could just be pinned down to stay
whole before falling like shattered mirrors
that recompose as harlequins of fluid faces
struggling to remould beyond the shadows
and the strange masks that fears and dread
now wear as they strut about as tall desires
we pray would remain longer than a mirage
of remembrances perishing like the carrion
of dreams and endless longings to be here.

There are no signs nor arrows on this path
that could retrace those gentle and happy
days when we owned the place where we
could not get lost even if we heroically tried.
We mean to rename these streets and mark
them indelibly so we could come home again.
But those still points are never there nor still
when we need them steadier than chameleons
that we are born with, where our zero point
is neither water, nor dirt, nor fire, nor air.


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.


Saturday, January 23, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (O1/23/2016) was prompted by a post on a Harvard Neurosurgeon coming out of a "brain-dead" coma (after he succumbed to bacterial meningitis) and he confirmed that there is an "afterlife" (via SPIRITSCIENCEANDMETAPHYSICS.COM by Steven Bancarz as shared by Philippine Poet and Court Magistrate Simeon Dumdum Jr.)

 @What, indeed, do we know about eternity? Has anyone come back from the other side to tell us what we have known by faith or what we can hope to know before we kick the bucket?


Has anyone come back from this defiled form
and mapped out ways to get back to that eternity
we claim as heirs to, where days are as chartless
as the river stream that must flow to an endless,
ceaseless fountainhead which has no beginning?

There is no other way back except by destruction.
When every rampart has been carted away, we
do not pine for them like those we cannot lose
because we store them in vaults of our memory:
they are our milestones of an afterlife we choose
to build from achieved desires, fulfilled dreams--
these chambers of a heart that will not crumble.

What, indeed, do we know of eternity? Save this:
We are never away from it. Until memory fades.


Friday, January 22, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (January 22, 2016) is one about coming home when it is no longer what it was meant when time and memories allowed it. "I have come home, but I cannot stay./ My room is now full. And empty."


It is the room we dread to open
when we go back home because
we have to. You can bunk in here,
nothing has changed, you sleep
well in familiar places, don’t you?

Except that this room is too full
of everything I might have been
running away from: you will be
back for the summer holidays,
won’t you? Mom would like that.

I did not catch the train back,
nor did I try that summer when
father said he was ill: come home
as quickly as classes end, your
father would like that. Come home.

It has been some time since I last
dusted off the cobwebs and dirt
from the sill and the pictures
in this room. I stare at them longer
now praying they would talk back:

You’ve come home at last. Stay,
stay longer, we would like that.
There’s catfish to hook at the river
a stone’s throw from home. There’s
black berries to gather for wine.

They stare back at my wan face
from the confines of the ornate frame
and the bursting memories in sepia:
Father in white gabardine suit,
Mother in her white traje de boda.

I have come home, but I cannot stay.
This room is now full.
And empty.

--- Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by poet Rita Gadi's poem on the displaced Lumads. They have been as quite as the venerable mountains in the valleys they called home. Wounded, they must now go back the same mountains with their kris (swords) unsheathed. These, too, are as old as these mountains. (This was earlier included in an anthology of poems protesting the displacement of the Lumads edited by Philippine Graphic editor Joel Pablo Salud)


(For the Displaced Lumads)

Listen to them whimper with the wind:
“We were here even before the hunters,
Scorched dry even before the rivers
Have caked into mud, molted into mire.
We will be here till time decrees our end.”

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de los ladrones;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas."

Not all the lust for life, gold and its lustre
In this pretend paradise-regained matter.
They were there even before hoary time
Stood still currying to man’s sad fantasies
Of earning back his purloined happiness.

"Estábamos aqui antes de oro
En las casas de las malditas;
Entonces, según de principio
Y vergüenza, vamos a sierras;
Porque no? Ellos están Viejas." *

Arid now, the mountain bent at its knees
Will turn to desert yet, and its hunger
Will be fed by sand clusters ripped by wind
That has brought fire burning their homes
long nurtured by mute mountain valleys.

* "We were here before the gold
In those houses of the evil ones;
Of course, as a matter of principle
And shame, we go to the mountains;
Why not? They have become venerable.”

"So have our unsheathed kris. They are as old."


Monday, January 18, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY are poems of the tired explorer. Is it time yet? How healthy is it to hold on? Hold back? When is it a good time to go?


1. The Pasture

Olden days as a pasture---an expanse
of growth and green alive to laughter
and song---that’s where I am going.
Where windswept bramble rustles
with grass, you will find me there.
I can’t be rushed to skip off beyond.
I have time to paint a collage of faces
I have known in the deep mosaic
of a past now graffitied on these walls.

2. Hoarded Memories

Isn’t this why we hoard our memories?
We carry them like playing marbles
in pockets over our hearts, an easy draw
when the game is called, a quick toss
into holes dug on dirt we crawl on like
the kids we were, rolling them to dusk.
Olden days are there to sieve through
to find markers along obscured paths
once brightly lit now lost or darkened.

3. Will Keep in my Knapsack

A smile after a first kiss would help me
remember there are caresses there
as indelible, as urgent, as when first
given or surrendered by the one lover
whose courage saw me through times
when absconding was an easy way out.
A rollicking hug from the boisterous
son, a lonely issue, my only boy, recalls
a hesitant embrace for my dying father
who whispered from his rocking chair
my schoolboy snivelling was poor form,
he needed a man’s goodbye. Goodbye.

4. I Do Not Want To Go

The litter of olden days strewn like dry
leaves along my walk home holds me
back, awake again: I do not want to go.

5. Show me the Way to Go Home

What is it about gloom and an overcast sky
that calls back from buried remembrances
shadows of a discarded past folded like linen
tacked neatly into closets, camphorated, and
forgotten in dark attics until the next funeral?
Small consolation that these leaves transform
into a bravura of rainbow colours before fall
claims them from their trembling branches.

Blown off with the winds to places unknown,
would anyone recall how they sheltered birds,
worms, held nests in the fork of twigs, even
wayward kites? A fanfare of cricket songs,
however cacophonic, forms part of a memory
when even the bark of a whimpering mongrel
or the monotone of a midnight owl remind
us of walks in the dark trying to get home on a
drunken tune whistled and yelled to the moon:

“I got a little drink, it went to my head. Show
me the way to go home!” I did not get there.
I won’t go yet, I still have time. Time is still.



MY POEM TODAY was prompted by Author/Editor Elmer A. Ordonez's post "Red Poppies on the Road" (see earlier shared post below), who wrote this post last year, remembering his Elenita in their sylvan refuge. (This was published in the Sunday Times Magazine, January 17, 2016)


(For Elmer A. Ordonez and his Elenita+)

“…Wither is fled the visionary gleam?/ Where is it now, the glory and the dream?/ Though nothing can bring back the hour/ of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,/ we will grieve not, rather find/ strength in what remains behind.” William Wordsworth, Ode to Intimations of Immortality.

Here you are asking if something is left behind
from those days and nights of heat and splendor.
The nest under the springhouse eave, the errands
to bring the birdling feed to gaping hungry beaks,
is this all that remains? What will bring back glory
to this arid field of clay? But it has never left you,
not when you still cup your ears to the murmur
of ebbtide, the trill of children running after kites
blown wayward in the hills, or feel the quick flush
on your face when you recall the warmth of nights
we lay on our backs counting our canopy of stars
knowing we could not but dared to recount them
from inconstant starts and lost our count anyway.
But that was once upon a time. It won’t come back.


Friday, January 15, 2016


MY POEM TODAY (January 14, 2006) was prompted by an Aeon Ideas Post on how "It seems paradoxical that sad songs can make people feel good and dissonant music can be pleasurable, but new studies have revealed why. (See earlier post below). This poem is a father's lament that while he will not see his son again, he has powerful remembrances of him that will never go away.


I want to gather the fragments of shadow /they’ve left on the green, the sad, sweet/ imperm...anence of their flickering. ---From “Marks” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa

On some mountain terraces I had whiled sunsets
away at when young, gleaners stretch their brown
backs at the end of their day’s toil and burst into song:

"I must gather them while green, must gather them.
I must gather them while ripening, must ripen them.
I must gather them on my back before sundown."

Shadows grow tall on the red rocks on my trek home
to join the roister of the hunt, to boil camotes in vats
and cauldrons of goatmeat for the day’s harvest feast.

That night I asked Mag-siya to be mother of my sons,
a long streak of light roamed the skies like a cowlick
on a boy’s forehead, and the night stars swallowed it.

Hayley’s comet was the augur for the war that ripped
through the huts and burnt stilted houses on the terraces
and dashed the dense dreams of delivering baskets

of fruit and rootcrop to my woman on the river washing
stains on the blanket that wrapped our newborn son,
he with the cowlick on his forehead and the howl

of a hunter whose eye for the coypu rushing through
the terrace falls would have been unrivalled in the valley,
would have been the mark of all that was alive and loved.

O, how these shadows torture me now at sundown
when I hold on to trees, leaves, flowers, or roots to trace
that cowlick that burns bright still on my gnarled palms

and echoes still like a hunter’s hallo for the wild boars
culled for the harvest feasts. The shadows are long
in the valley. I have only my unsung songs of that mark.


Thursday, January 14, 2016


MY POEM (For January 13) WAS PROMPTED ABOUT A POST ON "CONSCIOUSNESS" as the brain describing itself to itself. Can we know what we really claim to "know: or is it just a construct (however inchoate or incomplete) in our brain to explain what we sense or even perceive? Science still has a lot to explain before it claims to have arrived at the invention "artificial intelligence." Or are we simply using a portion of the "force" we have primordially? May the force be with you. I...s that it?


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

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 into our 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.


*This poem was prompted by Simon Blackburn's "Can We Understand Each Other? Treating Words Carefully," The Big Questions: Philosophy, Quercus Publishing, London, UK, 2009

Monday, January 11, 2016


MY TWO POEMS TODAY: Remembering My Mother, NENITA BUENAVENTURA CASUGA on her birthday anniversary, January 11, 2016. She would have been 93. I miss her. (Father and Mother rest now beside each other in graves atop a hill overlooking San Fernando Bay.)


(For Mother*)

But there is silence now at the phoebe’s nest–-/ the fledglings have flown–-Icarus-like must test/ their wings against the sinews of a summer wind. / Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning? ---From “Gone: A Weaning Song”, A. B. Casuga, 06-10-12

Is this uncertain quiet also an augury of mourning?
It is a cool, bright, and clear but silent morning,
what should move have not, even the gentle breeze
ruffling foliage rampant now on the crowns of trees
seemed to have gone still like the stale pool of mud
that must have caked in the warm night and seized
around the trunk clinging, child-like, on Mother’s
knee wailing: Don’t go! Don’t leave me! Please stay?

But she could not; she has waited for this clear day
to take a trip she must have wished for among others,
all dreams gone stale then, but she must go and meet
Father somehow where he has waited along a street
where they were to see each other again on a cool day,
eager to wrap each other in arms that pleaded: Stay!

---Albert B. Casuga

*Nenita Buenaventura Casuga, b. January 11, 1923 , d. June 11, 2012)+ R.I.P.

(Remembering Mother)

"Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form." ~ Rumi

Lo siento, mucho. I am sorry. Sympathies,
thoughts, and prayers.They are staple;
when the loss stings, these do salve pain.
But is sorrow eased somehow by these
when in the gloom, they are only able
to shape and reshape, as only niceties can,
into dread that they will not be there again
when mornings jolt the stricken and unable
into a stream of emptiness, a hollow niche
where totems people the blank memories
that must fill in the gaps like this candle
melts into a candelabra to hide what it can
about the abyss of oblivion, a gaping solace,
when the dead are interred in this dark place?


Sunday, January 10, 2016


MY POEM TODAY IS FOR MY littlest grandchild, Marie Clementine Casuga-Lalonde, who has learned how to ski in a mere year or two, she has been badgering her parents to go to the hills which she now loves. This poem was prompted by a video of her siblings and her going down the slopes. She did not even have a tether. She could stop at will. She is a MAHVELOUS DAHHLING.


(For Marie Clementine, My Wee Lass on the Ski Slopes)

Will you grow older than these lessons,
Mon chère? Will you gather pictures
Like dada-abuelo peppers and papers
His dusty study with his world’s magic?

Papa will no doubt pin this on his wall,
I wager all my left-over memories,
He will: it is this lesson of love and daring
That he will always remember, repeat:

“Go, chère, find your slope and subdue it,
Ride over all the covered snow lumps,
Leap over the stumps, swerve and stomp.
No dreads, brave girl, this glide is yours.”

Down there, in yet another world, prayer
Is passé; that comes only after a striving,
Not after the wind, but a hankering for power
You must dig out from your heart when sliding.

Down there, when you have grabbed your slope,
Eat the snow on the ground, it is your prayer.
Lick the pine cones on your way off the trail
They are your trophies. Each one, my prayer.

January 10, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016




(For Father, Francisco F. Casuga+)


“Will courage Redeem stupidity?”
-- Nick Joaquin

There is a manner of returning to the root
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.

1971 Manila, Philippines

(This poem was adjudged the Grand Prize Winner of the first Philippine National Parnasso Poetry Writing Contest (1971). 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.)


How much of those happy times
would you bring back, like waves
ebb but must always rush back?

It is the sea returns you intact
into my now empty days, windy days,
your laughter always a raw memory.

You threw me into those restless
waves, cried out a challenge: "Swim!
Kick hard, swing your arms! Swim!"

And I never stopped, not for hurts,
not for lost dreams, nor for losses.
You warned me never ever to cry.

11-03-11 Mississauga, Canada

*Culled from "Poesias Para Los Muertos" (11-01-11). I was not able to say goodbye to my Father when he passed away at the Bethany Hospital in San Fernando City, La Union Province, the Philippines. Just as well. He is still with me.


There is a scampering of grace in the dry woods
and a pulse upon some soliloquy:
it is the rain come as a smooth and forbidding lace
upon the cup of the dead and dying weather.
It is past the season of the grub.

The flirt of the monsoon upon the arid lap of Nara
is caked on the thick napes of children
dancing naked in the mire of the fields,
gaping to catch the fingers of the rain,
slithering like parched serpents guzzling raindrops
cupped in the hollow of gnarled father’s palms.

There will be no songs. The ritual is not of birth
but of death as summer dies in Nara
and with it every titter bursting from a child’s mouth.
The rain becomes a bloody plot.

June 2009. Mississauga, Canada


We re-buried Father’s remains on a hillock overlooking the sea.---A Letter from Home

Tanqui’s supreme conceit is its dread
Of withering grass in the month of the frogs
When rain, like fingers in the night, tread
The lesions gangrened on a hillock’s carrion,
Carcass of a season mourned
As the briefest of them all.

“The rain is on the hill, the dry pond
Is red with clay, the gods are back!
And so must I --- shadow of a past long gone ---
Weeping, running through these deserted streets,
Crouching now in mud pools of childhood fun
When songs were chanted as songs for the dance.
A dance for the grass! My limbs for the grass!
I must dance for Tanqui’s singéd grass!”

He dances hard, his body clean and gleaming,
But Tanqui’s rain is on the ashen hill.
Neither his dancing nor his lusty screaming
Will stop this dreaded withering.
Tanqui’s conceit is stranger still
When songs are sung not for her lads and lasses
But for this stranger who, dying, has come back
To dance for black grass, dance naked
For Tanqui’s withered pantheon grass.

Canada 2009


"Yet all the precedent is on my side:/I know that winter death has never tried/The earth but it has failed;.../It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak."
--- Robert Frost, The Onset

I would run down the slope and catch myself
a rolling ball of snow before it falls into the ravine,
but walking through the silently falling snow
at the trail is a choice for these creaking knees---
no more gossoon games defying gravity for me
or flying off the hillside edge into fluff below
among the stiffened bramble and wild apple tree.

There’s warmth in the silence of falling snow:
I feel his gentle hands on my nape, I hear him,
I ask him if he would drink a pint with me
if I had reached beer-guzzling age before
he’d make his final trek, before he’d leave,
but I hear his whistling for the wind instead
and tug at his wayward kite now puncturing
some sombre summer sky in San Fernando.

O, how I’d run down the barren slopes to catch
his fallen kite among the burnt logs of the kaingin,*
but these are flakes I find myself catching
and whipped out twigs that break the silence
of falling snow. O my father.

2013, Mississauga. Canada

* Clearings made by burning forests.
+In Memoriam (b. January 9. 1921 d. December 5, 1974)

Friday, January 8, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY ARE ABOUT BUILDING HOUSES --- TREEHOUSES. These were prompted by a KarmaTubeOrg. post on an artist who builds mini-houses for the homeless from salvaging recyclable house and machine parts piled on the weekly garbage around his city's curbs. He expresses his art in his building designs and loves actually building the mini-chalets.


(Voices... from Three Generations)

(For my Grandchildren)

Come summer, we will build
another treehouse on an oak
overlooking the creek, there
is more of you now to gather
remnants we can put together.
Nothing bigger, but higher,
maybe closer to the clouds,
nearer to the stars, away from
the giggling girls next door.
We will see less of the world.
Or more of it below: yelping
dogs lining up for the lift-leg
tree astride our river bank,
are easy slingshot targets off
stouter, steadier branches.
O, and there is soldier-boy
doing it with the wife round
the clock since he came back
wounded from Iraq, Libya,
and all on the eastern crack.
Shush, buddyboy, that’s not
what treehouses are for. What
are they for, gramps? To espy
on sparrows, robins, jays, owls
talk to each other on sundowns.

So, if we build it a bit higher,
we can also build a treehouse
for God, can we not, gramps?
Why ever for, laddie? He is
everywhere. But nowhere near?
Cool. A treehouse for God on
the river bend. Then, maybe,
just maybe, we can visit him
anytime, gramps, ask for help
for starving kids in Somalia.
Hook him up on a telephone
line, strings and cans and all,
and maybe Dad can provide
Him with a Bell Internet link,
alert Him on the Facebook!
So he can stop all killings and all,
and punish priests who molest
altar boys and girls, and...Whoa!
Whoa, boys, we are building a
treehouse, not His jailhouse.
Could we build one for God,
anyway, gramps? We got boards
and plywood and shingles and
nails, and...borrow mom’s cross,
to protect Him in His treehouse.


Thursday, January 7, 2016


MY OTHER POEM TODAY is also on kindness. It is the root behind the question as old as Eden: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Like the earlier poem, Finitude Unbound, it asks: "Or are these spaces our own echo chambers where ripples of our calls are heard by others?"

"On the other's back, we rise from our pauper's space..."---from an old poem I wrote years ago whose title I can't remember. Senior moment. <3 p="">

It is what we have absently forgotten,
that we still abide in a strange gyroscope
of happenstance of giving and taking,
of coming and going, visions and revisions.

Or there simply is nothing to remember
from the darkness whence we came except
the pain of pushing or pulling out of a hole
into a yet more fearsome cave of struggle.

Is it dread then that is left in our satchels?
This journey has neither maps nor diviners
to guard against a free fall into an abyss
of irreducible gloom and cold desert silence.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


MY POEMS TODAY: A stab at defining what it means to be happy. That is our business while we are alive, isn't it? Let's work on it.

(For All My Love Ones)
I never said I’d stopped playing. /… your turn now/ to guess which one is hiding the sun. ---Luisa A. Igloria, “Letter to Fortune”, Morning Porch

1. Game One
“Quick, guess where the pebble is,
and if you do, you will be happy!”

What if this were the only wager
in a game of chance of opening
and closing a cup over a rolling
pebble, not unlike the hide-’n-seek
the sun plays now with clouds
darting hither and thither with
winds blowing from all directions?

Will you take it? Will I dare?
What have we got to lose,
one way or another? I hold
your hand and you squeeze mine,
a signal to choose the arrant hiding cup,
and voila: I miss it. Happiness, too?

Happy is as happy does: you are
with me to roll the dice. Would I care
willy-nilly where happiness lies?
Under the cup where the pebble
has custody of nothing, least of all
my joie de vivre — you, my love,
who will be my ransom should I
lose this game of chance?

2. Game Two (After a Letter to Fortune)

“Quick now, guess now: high winds
rearrange the clouds, having learned
too about this game of chance.
Which one is hiding the sun? Which?
Mind the wager: if you fail this test,
should you pin the tail on the wrong
side of the donkey, or choose poorly,
you will keep on guessing all your life
whether or not you can be happy.”

Happy is as happy does: you are
with me to roll the dice. Would I care
willy-nilly where happiness lies?
With you, my love, neither wind nor
cloud will hide the sun. You are my sun.
Should I choose madly, choose badly,
what of it? I never said I’d stop playing.

—Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by an Aeon Magazine essay on "Cyborg Dreams" of technology liberating man from the shackles of the body. Even Steve Jobs, bless his departed soul, did not think so. He dreamt with open eyes.


(For Steve Jobs+)

Dance a digital dream, and spin a web
around this globe where everyone knows
if you floss your teeth, or pick your nose,
if you still venture out of your craven cave.

Did you earn enough to buy a paperbook
that made you a little prince of a pauper,
when learning meant to read or to hunger
for that leftover burger, or die in a nook,

coupling with a book, ranting of a stable
boy, romping in hay, dung, and cackling
hen with the Lady of the Manor, stripping
bare all that is noble, her drawers on a table?

Dance the jig of the devil astride the tombs
of the slovenly, slothful, and obtuse writers,
who bartered their dreams with publishers
stuffed with ducats, scribblers with crumbs.

Dare you now liberate these dumb brothers
who dream with closed eyes, sing rhymes
like drooling mutes, or untinkling chimes?
Internet, iPad, Kodo, Kindle, their druthers,

you dreamt them with open eyes and saw
that nightmares are only for the blind,
all who dream with closed eyes, the kind
who cannot see behind walls grass also grow.

--- Albert B. Casuga

Monday, January 4, 2016


MY POEM TODAY was prompted by my envy of an artist who can work under any pressure---the street artist. Not the graffiti artist. The one who works on a painting for under 20 minutes and sell it, too. Met one at the Strip in Las Vegas. We chatted while he painted furiously. I bought his painting.


A graffiti artist? No, sir, I use spray cans not brushes. I paint. ---Las Vegas Street Artist

Is it any different, this splashing of colour
Behind a glass cage, from the wild abandon
Of defacing, disfiguring all walls and fences
That come between you and your pure anger
Cursing a dark and ugly hole you call home
In a jungle where tendrils are skyscrapers
And black trellises of filthy woven grid wires
Swollen like hissing, smugly snaking, serpents
Slithering swiftly after swallowing whores
Snagged and stoned inside gaols of penury,
A condition not of their making but of a city
Beyond repair, cursed, now beyond rebuke.
Where you would have been a midnight
Rogue spraying mangled rants of hate
On defenceless palace walls and mansions
Fenced off with forbiddingly harsh barricades
Of vulgar wealth and embarrassing splendor,
You chose a prison of art, a cage of glass,
Where you would rather spray raw beauty
On surfaces that scarcely know a raison d’etre
Of creating and spreading beauty now gone
where it ought to be, a quixotic task you share
With a craftsman in the sky who might just
Be smiling down on you in gleeful whimsy,
Because you, in utter smallness or madness,
Would rather shape beauty and be godlike.


Friday, January 1, 2016

POEMS: ART AND BEAUTY (For Willy, Jun, and Al+)

A painting by Philippine National Artist Fernando Amorsolo


Transfigured, we come
Back to old haunts like the wind
And give back beauty.
---Albert B. Casuga

Poems for the Exhibit of Jun and Willy


(For Willie Buhay, Jun Alday, and Al Manrique +,
My San Beda College Students as Artists)

On the canvas, still life remains still,
but for the ravages of neglect and time.
For a little while, movement there will
come from light thrown off like mime
from palpable forms that are frozen
inexorably, dictates of chiaroscuro,
ideographic demands, or even unspoken
meaning jutting out of dashed impasto.
Will their narrative then lend them light
like the moon borrows from the sun?
How luminous will faces shine in sunlight?
Will flowers glow, will river streams run?
When these happen, will all the sparkle
Bound by bastidor* speak or mumble?

*Bastidor – frame


Imagine if all of us were caterpillars,
all inching toward that one branch
or leaf whence we spread our wings
to carry out a bounden duty of flitting
from one rose garden to a hillock
smothered by a rainbow of pansies:

Would we race to the highest branch
and shed our cocoon shackles quickly
to fulfill this raison d’etre of spreading
beauty where it is scarce or now gone?
 Imagine if all that we lived for were a
task as gleeful as this godlike whimsy.

Would we not scale beyond this boot,
and swing beyond this silken thread?
Or tear through bramble or grappling
gossamer webs that drag us down
even as we crawl toward sunlit fronds
to spread our wings and get beauty done?

Wherever beauty is, we will be there,
And if our troth be true, we will all
Be stuck there, too, spinning webs
of words, music that will outlive us all.

Canada, Deccember 31, 2015