Monday, October 3, 2011



At sundown, on my hammock hour, I hum a lullaby.
And I become the magus among the cattails chanting:

O give me a home bursting with laughter and song,
O give me a nook to hide and hold quicksilver dreams.

In their crannies, I shall wrap them with sunflowers;
In icy snow chambers, I shall save slivers of sunlight
To keep them warm. I shall be the rabbit popped out
Of the magus’ cone hat; I shall jump and disappear

Into their hideaway taking the darkness with me.
In their lairs and treehouses, I shall bring dry flint
And candlesticks and all things bright and crackling;
I shall be with my wee ones and darkness be damned.

Mississauga, 1-20-11


(For Louis Martin Lalonde, nieto jovencito)

He stood on a box when he eagerly squealed
“ ‘Lolo! Come, help me build a castle! Come!”

Not the usual sulky, sullen, silence slicing
through the interloper who has come to retrieve
his doting abuela. His jaunty leap toppled
the box of Lego blocks spilling helter-skelter
amid clucking cuidado-warnings from her
who wondered what kindled the stripling elf
into this challenge that bewildered him who
seemed to dodder with the lilt of entreaties
rushing out like a burst of rainwater dammed
on a creek, now freed of flotsam and debris,
now on a lower key: Please, ‘lolo? Please?

Gingerly, the hapless dotard plugged holes
with stubby poles, while the littlest builder
yelled design demands shrieking with glee
that soon enough he will grow a castle out
of his dreams, tall on the rug by the fireplace,
and he shall have his throne, and cars galore.
Like all grandfathers before him or after,
he chuckled a praise for the boy suddenly
turned to a builder-man: Good work, hijo mio!

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.

Mississauga, Ont. 03-03-11


Real stories tonight, she says, not/made-up. Like what I did, summers when /I was her age: ---From “Real” by Luisa A. Igloria

(For Chloe and Louis)

1. Then

Something about a canopy of stars
and the darkness among the pines
must turn them into giggling elves
traipsing among the lantern flies.
Bugs with lit tailpipes, he calls them.
She stifles a guffaw, shushes him:
you will wake the hungry bear up.
Would you want to wake up inside
his swirling stomach? He whispers
under the tangled sheet: tell me more
stories, real ones this time. About
how you and abuela stopped a bus
while crossing the street, and she
gave the yelling driver her fat finger.

2. Now 

Here we are, imp of a brother grown
beyond those yarns. Will you tell
your own boy---raucously laughing
all by himself in his dimly lit tent---
the same grandmother stories?
“Once upon a time,” will not do it,
they grow quickly beyond that.
Why not lull him instead with one
of grandfather’s hammock songs?
“When you talk to these trees,
they will always answer you: Close
your eyes tightly, we will sing to you.”
Here we are, imp of a sister, plotting
lullabies by campfire, when sons beg:  
Will you tell us real grandma stories?


(For Louis)

I run my hands over the rough, dry clay,/loving best those surfaces whose cracked /veins might lead divining rods to all/the parched suburbs of the heart.---From “Dowsing” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-21-11. 


Almost like a puppy, I muttered. Something
about his rushing to be wrapped with the flannel
in my hands, his quivering wag, and what looked
like a pirouette to catch his tail, invites me to rub
his narrow back: I feel cold, abuelo, he shivers.

Would the man in Eden have protested coyly?
From the clay he was fashioned, I imagine
he would have undergone some gentle dousing
for the moulder to have pronounced: he is good.
From the rough, dry clay, he rose in splendour.

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 before or after, I 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.


(For Matthew, On His Football Debut)

Was it a random number, or did you choose to call
attention to grandmother’s sixty eighth birthday?  

She peered through her camera but could not see
you nor make you out among these gnashing giants  

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. 


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. 

(b. September 16, 2011, 10th Grandchild, a Perfect 10!)*

Mild, merciful, a small orange:
you would have to tell those
who would ask what your name
means like all tags could mean
anything from noone to someone
but pray, not anonymous. Never.  

For from this day forward, love,
when the sun is a lambent light,
when the rain is a gentle spray,
when the wind is a soft caress,
when all that is harsh is salved,
we shall call them all clement.  

And we will remember you,
Marie Clementine, like the mild
dawn that greeted you when you
slipped quickly out of her womb,
mercifully sparing your mother
the pain that birth is twinned with.

Did your laughing père not call you
a little citrus fruit, a tiny orange
wailing your little heart out when
you quivered into our tired world?
O, Marie Clementine! O clement,
O loving, O sweet mother of God.  

When angelus descends at dusk,
You become a prayer, too, Marie.



So long at work,/and teetering from one impossible/task to another. I count and recount/an abacus of spilled grain, water flowing/from a sieve: o gather me now in.---From “Orison” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 07-24-11

Sundown was always gleeful for us growing up
around abuela. It was always time to gather
the clucking hens into bamboo nests tied
on low manzanita* trees, low enough for us
to scoop the scrambling little birds beelined
behind squawking mothers into their perch.

The chore done, the handsome lady lilts
our boisterous squadron into a sudden
calm: Anyone for rice cakes after prayers?
The magical word was “cake,” not murmured
promises for a reign of peace as it is in heaven.

On my hammock hour, I replay sundown
tableaus like these radiant remembrances,
(while recollections remain tranquil and clear),
and gather my own noisy bird scoopers, all,
all of them gone now into their own little worlds.  

“Anyone for real stories on when I was young?
Some songs sung as I scooped frantic chicken?
Anyone for tea biscuits after sundown prayers?”
O, for those shadowy things to jump up alive
again from these empty walls. O for those songs
to chime in again to lull me, and gather me in.



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