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.
Is it a kind of joy mingled with such/ wistfulness, a feeling of being taken up/ and embraced before goodbye? Who/are you? / ---From “Without Translation” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 09-28-11
You did not say it then, but I saw those unspoken
words in your hands, your eyes, your half-smile
when I bade you goodbye the night we would rather
forget but will always remember as our surest bind.
You had the children with you; flying off to give me
space, and for the children, and for the best, and…
There is no best, I said, we will know when we need
each other again. Until then, find yourself. I will.
Did you want to embrace me then but were afraid
I would not give it back? Did you hope I would say:
Stay, do not go. Let us try again. Let me try again.
I did, and that airport parting remains a nightmare.
When I came back to you, did you want to say:
I forgive you; please forget that past; forgive me,
if you can. But we stood apart between the children
running to hug me. I saw that look, but did not know.
I have been trying to come home since then. Did you?
--- Albert B. Casuga
Prompt: * Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is a word from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the “most succinct word”, and … one of the hardest words to translate. It refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to do.”---From “Without Translation” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 09-28-11
Tiny holes riddle the leaves of a heal-all plant, turning it to orange-tinged lace. What small creature requires so much medicine? --- Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 09-28-11
There are holes and there are holes:
these are almost delicate patterns
seen against the punctures on her
face—wellsprings of solace, bliss,
warranty, trinkets, pecking order
symbols, insignia’s of heft on Wall
street—greed, vanity of vanities.
What picayune creature needs all
this panacea, this balm for ennui?
The caterpillar crawling on the leaf,
gives back a mariposa’s glorious
colours, a leitmotif of magical dabs,
to show for those holes. Maggots
on the fallen leaves become fruit
flies, dump flies bound by ordained
duties in this woods’ give-and-take.
Green fodder from those holes
are miracles of growth and beauty.
But those holes on the side of hills,
entrails of ruptured caverns, dug
geysers offshore and spring caves,
abandoned common graves in gold
and coal mines moistened by blood
and congealed sweat— are diadem
vaults of stones, silver, myrrh, gems,
uranium, plutonium, plosive grit—
all, all molten nosegays to crown
the smallest creature of them all,
fig-leaf-covered man and woman
still in bad need of blandishments
of comfort, power, and lust to cure
his inchoate, eternal smallness. Pity.
Poro Point....., that's where to go,.../....Picked and collected half empty, shiny shells,/ abandoned by their unsated occupants / seeking for a better habitat to live in/ and like her...seeking for a place where to grow.---From “Wanderlust” by Perla Patricio, Facebook 09-21-11
who could have been the drooling babies not so long
ago. She lets out a gasp of delighted surprise
when she espies you on the zoom. How do you
zoom in on his face? She asks; I plead ignorance
with a dinosaur’s shrug. From afar, she still sees
that little boy who could not even throw a ball.
Omigod, look at him barrel through that lad blocking
his run! He would hurt the boy or get himself broken!
I could not help but look for that’s what 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 that pigskin to Lord knows where, oh yes,
pitch the first blocking body, too. Bloody idiot, he
would snap, but if he were within hearing distance, she
would upbraid him: Matthew Francis, your language!
She watches him through her tear-stained lenses,
sighs, and stifles a cry: My little boy is a big man now.
At sixty-eight, myself, I felt suddenly old and weak.
---Albert B. Casuga
At 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.
…kapirasong guhit ng buwan,/kay layong anino ng haplos. (Translation: that sliver-stroke of moon, / its distant illusion of a caress. ) --- Panalangin (Prayer) by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negative, 09-18-11
Lakay Tuangan* looks away from the terraces
after a deep gulp of rice wine, shakes his head
weakly, and lets out a quiet cry: O watch over us,
God of good harvests, Apu Init, Apu Angin,* Father
of these mountains that feed our children, hold us
now in your hands, big winds have taken our grains.
Wrinkled beyond his years, he stretches his sunburnt
back after picking up his yawning bamboo basket
still empty but for half a root of wild potato sticking
like an eye torn off from its socket. A beaten warrior.
Even the field rats have no use for the shorn stalks,
maybe the lumbering water buffalo pulled his final
plow, it will have to do for the slaughter to gather
urgent sacrifice for the angered gods, whose anito*
may have absconded at the first blast of disaster.
Subdued, he empties his earthen jug into his dry
throat, retches at the sting of the wine on its lines,
looks at the slice of moon, a smile from the sky
that has darkened quickly to ferry a tent of stars,
a sliver-stroke of moon, a distant illusion of caress.
Shivering from the gust of wind, he folds his arms.
--- Albert B. Casuga
Translations: *Lakay Tuangan, Old man Tuangan;Apu Init, Apu Angin, Sun Lord, Wind Lord; anito, angry soul, animus.
A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems (2009, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House)
The Aeshetics of Literature (De La Salle Univeristy Publications, 1972)
Narra Poems and Others (San Beda College Publications, 1968)
In a Sparrow's Time (Infocom, Canada. 1990)
Still Points (Selected Poems), 1972, (Flores & Associates, Manla)
Songs for My Children (Selected Poems), 1996, (Infocom, Canada)
A. B. Casuga's works are anthologized in A Habit of Shores by G. H. Abad (UP Press), Introduction to Poetry by Edith Tiempo et al (Silliman University), and has been published in journals and magazines in Philippines, Canada, United States, and Australia.
Summer Suns (short story collection with Cirilo Bautista, Manila UST Press 1962); Narra Poems and Others (poetry collection, San Beda Publications, Manila 1968); Still Points (poetry collection, Flores & Asociates, Manila 1972); In A Sparrow's Time (poetry collection, Infocom, Canada 1990); Songs for my Children (poetry collection, Infocom, Canada 1996); The Aesthetics of Literature (Literary Theory and Criticism, De La Salle University, Manila, 1972); Editor: Man in Search of Meaning: Literature (Humanities Series, Asia Foundation & DLSU Textbook Committee, Manila 1970); Man and His Literary Past: The Classical Tradition (Asia Foundation & DLSU Textbook Committee, Manila 1971); A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Manila, 2009).