Friday, September 30, 2011

THE LOOK


THE LOOK



(Mamihlapinatapai)*




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
09-29-11



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




HOLES



HOLES  



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,
mines-quarries-tar sands-reefs,
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.
 



— Albert B. Casuga
09-29-11


Thursday, September 29, 2011

STARTING OVER



STARTING OVER

The day does what it always does:/ goes away... /We need time to keep starting over. --- From “Counting Chicken” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 09-28-11



That day will come when another
will not, and there is no starting over.
Where will I find myself? How will I
strike it out of my calendar? Why?

 
Swinging on my hammock. Waiting.
No one arranged my empty schedule.
I would have to be grand and civil
then to uninvited guests? No choice.

I did not have to be born. No choice,
some hired help pulled me to an exit.
From darkness, I found light, and I
wailed till I could have turned blue:

 
“No, there must be some mistake!”
My scream was not that articulate.
All attendants at my beginning said:
“He breathes. He cries. He is alive.”

 
When that random day comes, I
will be generous with my Domecq.
Shall we have brandy, then, Monsieur?
How might I help you with your burden?

 
Ever the gentle host honed in niceties
now long gone from a trashy world,
I invite the closer of the deal to a toast:
“Long live days with no starting over.”

 
Why do I fret then about that little day,
while I sing my little Marie a lullaby?
She puckers her infant lips for a suckle
I could not provide, but settles for a cuddle.

 
Tremulously, I start singing the lullaby
over. Abuelo will be here hugging you
safe and warm though hell freezes over.
It is a covenant that has no starting over. 

 

--- Albert B. Casuga
09-28-11




Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A DIALOGUE ON LIGHT




A DIALOGUE ON LIGHT

The world/ makes room for us, we think,/ shows us where to go with/ light, walk here, live here,/ drive here. --- From “Light House” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 09-26-11


1. The Big Questions

What would it be like if there were no light?
The world, as we know it, ends with a whimper. 

If there were no sun, all things would ebb like
floodwaters into black cisterns, dark vessels 

where everything is nothing, where still points
are pointless stillness, a silence of the dead. 

Who would see the hand of God in all creation?
Let there be light, a primal dictum, would be a shot 

in the dark, a desperate plea of blind virtual lives,
cyber civilisation nowhere near a tungsten lamp. 

Denied the power of Microsoft, the hard and fast
friendships of the Facebook, when will life begin?

Sans pings, bytes, binaries, infernal halogen head
lights, movie houses, Las Vegas slot machines, 

a city that never sleeps, nuclear plants, scopes—
telescopes or gastro scopes—why would a world be?

2.  The Small Answers

For a small campfire by the sea to singed the smelt
to go with the purloined gin and tin cup of coffee.
Why? To mark the rhythm of shadows on the wall
when all one has is the warmth of frenzied caresses. 

What would this cranny in Manhattan’s holes
be like without those lamp posts? Will benches 

in the park be any better as sleepers for the tired
and angry without woodfire in those filthy drums?

Quieter that all this palaver, I guess. Certainly less
involved than asking for a light on a cold night 

when a deep and good smoke will mean a distance
between life and death: a warm mouth massage.



--- Albert B. Casuga
09-27-11



Monday, September 26, 2011

HIS FIRST DRINK



HIS FIRST DRINK



Overcast. The softly glowing reds and yellows, the hum of crickets, even the normally annoying call of a towhee all inspire nostalgia. --- Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 09-26-11



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. 



--- Albert B. Casuga
09-26-11


Sunday, September 25, 2011

A HUNGRY MEMORY



A HUNGRY MEMORY 



Sometimes the hungry, / rusted parts of memory call out for more/ salt, more tang: more time to linger. ---From “Eating Dried Fish with Our Hands” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 09-24-11


Frolic among seaweeds we would gather into mounds
not unlike this fall sundown’s first raking of the leaves:
I remember him laughing at my crown of sargasso; I
could still taste the brine on his fingers when he fed me
masticated rice and dried fish singed over our seaside fire. 

O, Father, is there any way we could go back to that sea? 

Would the long shadows on these porch walls spring you
out of my mind’s eye, dig you out of my heart? If I prayed
like I have never begged before, will you to pull me out
of this hammock, race me to the tallest rock on Poro Pt.? 

Will you then mockingly laugh how flabby I have grown,
and how I needed to eat dried fish from your bare hands
and wash them down with lemon-and-salt-spiked anise.? 

How long will this rusted memory last? Will you linger? 



--- Albert B. Casuga
09-25-11

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A HERESY OF RUSTY THINGS



A HERESY OF RUSTY THINGS

Rusty things: the wail of a cat in heat, a squirrel’s slow scold, the cry of a jay, and the black cherry leaves fading to a coppery red.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 09-24-11


Wailing while in heat, is it obsolescence,
or it is simply outright rejection? “Rusty”
could be the feline’s tag, a dirty brown
tomcat losing his prowess at seduction.
 

Scurrying to provide for winter freeze,
the dark-tailed rodent stands on its
hind legs, spits out mulch and coughs
out a wheeze sounding like a nasty scold.
 

Rusty at a chore at season’s turn?
Or is it simply its mute gnashing
over a tardy spring, and O so little time
between a lean fall and a dying year.
 

A hop and a weak chirp from a jay
that has strayed into a rusty bird-feeder,
is a clean shot at “rusty” except that its
cry betrays a failing in its warbling job.
 

When the black cherry leaves are coppery
red, is that not a vision of what is truly
rusty? The flaccid branches would soon
see these brittle foliage break away… 
 

but could not stop a quotidian plummeting
when winds rattle them into a quavering
that can only look from where I sit like
trembling hands gripping a rusty trowel.
 

Perhaps the yeoman in the sky has become
rusty in a doddering way, he/she/it/they
could no longer command blind obedience
from settlers who have learned to brandish
 

their rusty plows like rusty swords against
all that is slow in their earthly impatience.


— Albert B. Casuga
09-24-11




Friday, September 23, 2011

TO CATCH A DREAM




TO CATCH A DREAM 



At the woods’ edge, the yellowest birch seethes with small birds—kinglets, I think. But by the time I fetch binoculars, the tree is still.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 09-23-11




The yellow birch tree quivers
from the sudden ambush
of twittering kinglets flitting
noisily from fenced-in trees
at the wood’s edge: it relieves
me of an ennui I have nursed
with the frigid gust of an early
equinox. I shrugged: Leaves
returning to shorn branches. 

The moving colour burst jolts
me out of the gloomy confines
of a hell I created out of cabin
doldrums and infernal rainfall.
How can all this beauty waylay
this grim desire to find a still
point whence I could abandon
a plague of hoarded loneliness? 

I must get out to catch myself
a dream: Where has it gone,
that bright touch of memory?
How can I lead it out, set free?
A hapless Orpheus who must
not look back at my Euridyce
come back from doom? I turn
around to look at the birds,
but the tree is still and green.


--- Albert B. Casuga
09-23-11


Thursday, September 22, 2011

PORO POINT


PORO POINT

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


That’s where to go when you ache
for a piece of that elusive paradise,
it is a stone’s throw from there
where languid sunsets play tricks
on squinting eyes, a will-0’-the-wisp
laved by ebbtide, a sundown bravura
of rainbows, a Wagnerian grandeur. 

Here I am, picking up abandoned
shells. Could their quondam settlers
have required more wiggle space,
find ease where there is nothing
left of free and unbridle growing?
I, too, have bartered for lost dreams
but like Orpheus I looked too closely. 

Have I turned around to size up my
trophy coming out of struggles
to recast quotidian days into happy
residues of life and love? Did I lose
what I endlessly return to, where
coming back is also coming home?
I look back for shells that I had lost.


--- Albert B. Casuga
09-22-11


"The Beachcombers" is a prize-winning painting of Perla Patricio which served as a prompt for her poem "Wanderlust", the above poem's prompt. This painting was based on a photo taken by her husband, Franco, in Cannaoay, Poro Point, San Fernando City, La Union, the Philippines. (Photo first appeared in Ms. Patricio's Facebook post.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

NUMBER SIXTY EIGHT



NUMBER SIXTY EIGHT 

 (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. 



---Albert B. Casuga
09-21-11


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.








Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A SHOWER OF GRACE




A SHOWER OF GRACE



Now, I have to reckon with myself/ that in a while you'll be out of my sight. ---From "Till Next Spring" by Perla Patricio



1.

It is fleeting, but I had my fill
of their company and songs.
Sometime soon, my hummers
must fly off to other gardens,
but I would not be there.  

Strange shadows will linger,
Like rhythmic throbs haunting
my nights, heartbeats of pain
that never leave, overstaying
guests waiting for a last drink. 

When will they leave? Hurts
hold on like geckos on the wall,
they must be pried off. Cut off.
Still their curt staccato echoes
through eerily empty rooms. 

Quiet voices I have heard here
are other voices in other rooms.
I do not hear them bouncing
off these blinds darkening my
windows, hiding a wilted garden.


2. 

Will this longing for the warmth
of a gentle caress, when nights
and beds are cold, find its answer
soon---a knowing touch on my
back, before despair breaks me?  

Tomorrow, I will walk through
an abandoned garden in the rain:
I will tilt my face to some grey sky
like an agape earthen jar, catch
myself some nourishing rain. 

Must I, on my gnarled knees, beg
for these hurts to set me free?
My hummingbirds will fly off
leaving me this mansion of joy,
but oh, a finite hint of eternity. 

Sometime soon, I must frolic
in this uncertain weather, dash
through this shower of grace,
sate my parched throat in the rain,
drink myself delirious but happy. 



--- Albert B. Casuga
09-20-11




Sunday, September 18, 2011

FAMINE


FAMINE


…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 Negativa, 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
09-18-17

Translations: *Lakay Tuangan, Old man Tuangan;  Apu Init, Apu Angin, Sun Lord, Wind Lord;anito, angry soul, animus.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MARIE CLEMENTINE



MARIE CLEMENTINE

(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.



---Albert B. Casuga
09-17-11


* A description only an excited grandmother like Lourdes Veronica (Nicky) Lim-Casuga could muster. Marie Clementine, our 10th grandchild, is her parents' --- Martin Lalonde and Adele Casuga-Lalonde --- unmatchable gift for abuela Nicky's birthday on September 17.