Wednesday, October 3, 2012



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. 

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. 

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!  

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)



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): GROWING AWAY

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): GROWING AWAY




1. Away

It does haunt one’s reverie
like an old melody’s refrain,
it is a way but not away. But
where is away? A memory,
perchance a lingering pain? 

Distance-given right to know
erases world’s away, rebuilds
them only as far as a pebble
skips and skims over eddies
on roiled water: See old faces? 

Etched on beach sand, away
is a heart pierced through
by an arrant arrow called Luv
and a spray of trickling angst
named Will or blood bubbles. 

Or a nodding gran chanting
on her beads wishing shadows
on her walls at sundown might
jump out where they grow tall
and call out: Granny, I’m back!  

Maybe an unreachable land,
then, endlessly dark, no sun
creating rainbows, no showers
lads and lasses run through
naked and free, cold but happy.

2. Monologues 

When are you coming back
from the front, son? Sometime
soon, before mom fades away?
Where is this Viet Nam? Iraq?
Afghanistan, Pakistan? Somalia?  

Will you take the midnight train,
Betty, and be home Christmas?
Me and the gang, we will throw
a party at the Metro, wait for you,
gulp suds for every train whistle.

I guess he will not be around
for my umpteenth birthday, mom.
You invited him, did you not, he
and that woman in Denver? I
just have to wait by the window.  

Is grandpa going fishing with me?
Like last summer, he will drive in
on his old Studebaker, clanking
with a loose tail pipe over cobbles
on our street. Will he? Won’t he? 

I will not be away for a long time,
not too long. Before you know it,
some 10,000 sleeps from now, we
will be bowling again in St. Peter’s
Alley, cracking lightning and thunder.

3. Overture 

Come away then, come away, while
we can, let’s run through valleys,
swim the rivers with the catfish,
slalom down those snowbound hills.
Come away, Love, to some place away. 


* The poems above were prompted by lines from Hannah Stephenson’s “Away”. Throw it away, / we say, but where/ does this directive/ lead. Where is/ away. We know it/ suggests distance/ and removal, that/ the thrown thing/is no longer visible/ or retrievable. --- From “Away” by Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 1—20-11


Sunday, September 30, 2012




Giving up on giving up is a better choice,
when being sensible and clear are futile.
Words would lose meaning, ours will not.  

Where you see a vine leading its tendrils
up to a broken branch shedding a last leaf,
you make me see its undulant plummet  

to the parched pond mottled by blackened
and brittle leaves long dead even before
the end of this long hot summer. It is real. 

Is this not our faultless way of knowing
what we pretend to know when we can
no longer see the dancer from the dance? 

Would not the falling of that lonely leaf
trace the slower climb of a clinging vine?
Like seeing both sides of the wall at once.  

---Albert B. Casuga


Sunday, September 9, 2012


This being my 50th year of being married to Lourdes Veronica Lim-Casuga, I culled the few love poems I have ever written for her to celebrate this anniversary.



1. Growing Old Together



--- The female carries the male butterfly on her back while they reproduce, and then the female eats the male while waiting for the pupa to become another butterfly, and then she dies shortly after. --- Bohol Butterfly Farm Guide Felix.


How a butterfly farm can turn
an upside down imitation of life,
haunts me still this side of art as life
or life as art as transfixed visions
of what we must be now:
like the gravid mariposa luring its mate
in a flight of duty -– she must bear
the male of her specie on her back
while they consummate a dance on air
not unlike our act of mating ---
she enamouring her mate
with scents purloined from blossoms
as, conjoined, they flit from flower to leaf
tumbling on air in ecstasy
not unknown to us when wild and young
and brave with joie de vivre,
for they must breed their kind
in a chrysalis of quiescence hurriedly,
urgently, before an inexorable end
where the male must be consumed
as her victual while clinging
to bramble branches bearing her pupa
seen to us now, voyeurs of unfolding
beauty and arresting splendour,
as the preening papillon bestirring
the dry air into a flutter of magic
sprung from throes of death and dying,
for she, too, must soon perish
after this function of issuing
a magnificence that for us can only be
borne of love and loving, yes,
perhaps also onto death and dying.


The poet’s refrain, “how do I love thee”,
is supercilious here, cher ami,
it cannot match the male butterfly’s sacrifice,
nor this mariposa’s dying
to bear life, beauty, and splendour.
Alas, beauty is an omen here.

2. Coming Full Circle


--On a cruise along Lachine, Quebec

It is the river as mother to the sea
Entraps us into this womblike feeling of ease;
It is the river draws us to this discovery
Of need, our quiet helplessness.
We are the river ran its course
Into an engulfment of restless sea.
How far have we gone from our rivered Nara?
Or how long have we gone astray?
Does the river current come full circle
From the breaking waves of sea?
Do we meet each other, dreamlike,
In the endless stream of the world’s Lachines?
When do we come back as rivulets
In some hidden rock spring?
The river runs full circle, and we discover
We have not even halfway met.
When will my currents break into your rocks,
You distant sea, you entrapment of need
And engulfment of ease?
When will the sea create the river?
When will the river create the sea?
Where they meet in the trickle of a little garden,
Who laves the riverstones?
Who laps the greening shores?
The river’s rush is also our question.

3. The Dreaded Maelstrom

DIES IRAE (1970)

Halfway, between this river stone and many rocks after,
Nara shall have gone from our echoes-call.
We have wandered into a sunken mangrove and wonder:
Is it as silent there? Are there crabs there?
What quiet mood is pinching bloodless our spleens?
This is another pool –-- navel upon the earth.
Always, always, we cannot be grown men here.

After the white rocks, after the riverbend,
Nara becomes the dreaded dream.
We have put off many plans of soulful revisiting ---
We will go on re-stepping beyond the white stones,
Each step becoming the startled rising
Into a darkened city farther downstream
Where we once resolved never to die in.


Do we wake up then afraid of Nara?
But rising here is the nightmare come so soon,
Treason in the daytime, maelstrom at night:

The nightmare was of cackling frogs
And serpents rending skulls and cerebrae
Of kitemakers who sing while termite logs
Burn and children, chanting the Dies Irae,
Mush brainmatter, pulling out allegory
Like unwanted white hair, stuffing black grass
Where brain was, casting tired similes
Into dirty tin cans where earthworm wastage was:

River swells drown us where, surfacing,
We wake up knowing our days have become
Termite nights and decaying metaphors.

4. Kite Seasons We Remember


(For Lourdes Veronica Lim, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, 1962)


There is an old haunt, Im-nas,
Where I am singer and kite-maker emeritus
Trumpeting reed laughter after the wind
On the rib of delivered rice:

It is the kite season in Nara, remember?
Time for the kite-song, remember?
Blow, Apo Angin, blow,
We whistle for the wind.

For us, sky-struck or one with this bird
Loving mate and leaving earth on the wind,
Winged: ravishing the sun, unblinded,
We wingless and simple wait for the wind.

We while kiting comatose away lifting crags
That room the secrecies of mating frogs.
They hop with surprised grace angered by
Blushing by.


Veronica, you and I, child and kite,
We shall wait for the wind:
If I were the kite, fly me to the sky,
To the bird on wing.

Should I, descending, rip my fibre
On the thorns of a fig tree
Or the curse of its flower,
Do not abduct me: I perish there.

Thinking of you: Veronica-Im-nas,
And I am kite now, inured and waiting
For the wind to ravish me free.
It is the kite season in Nara. Remember?

December, Mississauga, 2009

*(From "Narra Quartet", Narra Poems and Others, 1968)
Im-nas is Ilocano for Beloved
Apo Angin is Ilocano for O Wind



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): GOING BACK

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): GOING BACK




For Guerrilla Comrades

The nape is a natural anchor; dancers
can tell how swiftly rhythmic footwork
become gyrations close enough to know
that she will not fall from his embrace.

This is how it should have always been:
he , being led by her wide steps caught
quickly off by a frenzy of thighs playing
the evening’s tease --- They are yours,

however you want them, if you can
catch them lithely tripping the light
she, a laughing  Jezebel,
grown bold with giggles of an ingénue.

What they would give, if they could hold
on to that night they danced, absently
ignoring the high command’s summons
of storming Corregidor* at break of dawn.

He said it would be a brief encounter;
will be back before she digs her fingers
into some rough folds of a dancer’s nape,
and feels a strange tickle on her hands.

I shall keep my night lamp lit all day long,
you know which window to climb through.
But the nights never ended, the dance did.
She now idles by her window counting waves.


---Albert B. Casuga

*Corregidor -- Philippine warfront WWII. Readers may simply replace this with any place where guerrilla movements exist. The context is hospitable to all lost love.

Saturday, May 5, 2012



You wanna buy protection on that hill, old chappie?/ I knocked a girl up there one night. I got off. Pills?---Graffiti 7: Frogs and Why (from the Graffiti Series)

1.  Bench Talk

He chatted him up when the slurring hobo
with the Rudolf nose promoted his prurient
ware: Trojans, Depo-Provera, morning-afters?
Demurring, he said, his loins no longer work.

Is why you walk everrrydeh, eh? The sales
pitch suddenly sounded frightening to him.
It has been some time, since primeval tugs
like those hinted by the tramp urged him.

He did not mind sharing his bench with those
lipstick ad-graffiti-mantra: You are beautiful.
About the girl, he said, she bore my baby. Eees
why I prowl here often. I see her go uppphilll

And my babbbbeee, sssheee is headmaster
Of a nursery school, there. Lots of frogs there

2. Taking Down Notes

Why not? He said, it will be part of my notes.
The Tramp. Sounds Chaplinesque. But how?

He talks to himself when caught wordless
and unable to sustain decent conversation.

The dotard syndrome, he reminded himself.
It was the Sidney Poitier-look-alike cop
asking him if he saw anything suspicious
around this stiff  corpse of a neatly-dressed

man, red jacket, white shirt, faded blue jeans,
the stuff he remembered to give him when last
they sat on that bench. He said he liked Dean.
James Dean was my  faaavvvooorrrittt guy.

Rebel Without a Cause, Giant, East of Eden,
they almost had an a cappella. A la prochaine.

3. Death on a Bench

French for ‘later ol’ chap, he said that last time.
Now this death on the bench. There was a freshly
sprayed arrow next to the bench beauty jibe.
Sir, Sir? Do you hear me? Do you know this man?

It was the policeman again, now insistent that he
pays attention; look at the baton, he muttered. Yes.
and No. I see him peddle weed, condoms, pills,
around here. He was a graduate of Harvard

His last word jolted him. Why did he end this way?
In their penultimate bench-talk, the stiff, clean-
shaven man said he lost everything. His old folks,
his mansion, his millions, he got into the slammer

for badly invested ponzi-scam money bled out
of pensioners, seniors, his parents even. Ha-vard!

4. His Story

I tried to see her, plead with her, showed her my
bank account, I proposed to her again and again.
All she said was to be “gentle with me”, and I
thought she might forgive me. Yes, she said, she did.

It was the headmaster lady with the nursery school
who said not to see her mother again. Ever.  Savvy?
So I came to this toboggan hill every day, espying
from a distance. Every stroller with a cane was her.

But I did not forget, she told me finally, peremptory
in her tone, I am happy now, my friend, I am good.
Estoy tan llena de alegria para estar enamorado
Contigo de nuevo. Too late, my friend. Nunca jamas!*

Absently, he gingerly climbed in the direction of the
bench arrow: Seven trees with the saddest graffiti.

5. Seven Graffiti Trees

“Will| You| Marry| Me?|” and “|Be| My| Wife?|”
They formed a coven of seven pine trees, sprayed
barks on their trunks, looking hoary in the late
blaze at sundown. Downhill, children’s ditties echoed.

Sir. Listen to me, Sir. Sidney Portier called out now.
You will have to give me your home address, phone
number, and show me an ID, right now. Please
He arched an eyebrow, and said: In a minute, sir.

He thought he sounded unctuous like Peter O’Toole’s
Don Quixote de La Mancha. Under his breath now,
he gobbled: I will be glad to write a novella about him,
and his lost life and loves
. Pentecostal, it dawned on him.

Those last three trees on the toboggan hill were his last
graffiti: Will you be my wife? But he died. The bastard.

6.  A Sylvan Prayer

He came down the hillock with a weary smile for Poitier.
His hobo was being bundled then into a wailing ambulance.
Bring me to wherever they bring his ice-cold, rock-hard
carrion, and I will tell you all I know in your cop car, son

Before he entered the annoyingly blinking (G.I.)* police car,
he looked at the hill rather tiredly; there were children
gawking at this weird bier-ceremony, two women herding
them, a handsome lady with a cane, and a fetching woman

crying havoc to the nattering, wondering, puling, yelling,
little children. She ordered: Back to the nursery. Now!
He gently refused the protective palm of the black cop
covering his bald pate; he charged Quixote-like into the car.

Sir, what did you say? Poitier asked impatiently. Praying,
he said. Praying she will never see the seven trees again.

05-04-12/ 05-05-12
Mississauga, Ontario

Estoy tan llena de alegria para estar enamorado/ Contigo de nuevo. Too late, my friend. Nunca jamas!*---I am so full of joy to be in love with you again. Too late, my friend.  Never ever again. (G.I.) – government issue.

This concludes the fictional element in my Graffiti  Poems which I posted earlier in my literary blog. I am delighted to have gone back to that hillock to find an additional graffiti “Be My Wife” on the seven pine trees atop the toboggan hill at Glen Erin Park, on my neighbourhood on Fifth Line West, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Next: Photos of the Graffiti prompts. (New fangled cell phone cameras permitting.)

These are May Poems #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, and #12 in my poem-a-day exercise to keep Poetry alive online. “Sonnets manqué,” because they use the 14-line format sans the rhymes in the first three quatrains and the “volta” couplet as a final strophe.---ABC

Thursday, May 3, 2012



Black sign, gutter-level./ White-lettered, centered,/ CLOSED FOR GOOD..../Squat beige building./ Street number placed /over the door, tastefully.---Hannah Stephenson, “For Good”, The Storialist (05-02-12)

How about if there are no/ children, not/ human children, just life/ forms that/ they are the stand-ins for/ who, sighing, / think, I want the old dark/energy star back.—-Hannah Stephenson, “Life Forms”, The Storialist, 05-03-12)

1. Closed

After the tsunami, the school
house on the hill is closed.
At the border ration centre,
supplies are gone. It’s closed.
No funds found for a village
orphanage? It will be closed.
Lean-to clinics for refugees
have been torched. Closed.
Mosques sheltering rebels
are collateral war damages.
Places there remain closed.
Even skies close. They’re dry.

2. Open

Elsewhere, in a busier world,
abortion abattoirs open 24-7.
Cathedrals rise with Sabbath
rake-ins, coffers remain open.
Here, infirmaries are business
opportunities, hospitals open
for insurers galore; pharmacies
at every street corner stay open
for motels that endlessly require
pills, rubbers. Banks, too, open
ATMs for gangland transfers
and late night cash. Here is open.

3. Closed for Good

What place was that with a sign
that promised it was closed for
good? Was that the dispensary
for pain killers crushed fine
into dust-looking opiates for
run-away kids? In this church-
going parish, was that dainty
bungalow a village whorehouse?
If the pastor was found castrated
there, why, pray, close it for good?
All things above and below close.
Is that for the common good?

4.  Happy then; now closed

He passed by again to make sure
he had the right house: a chapel
at season’s turn, now it’s foreclosed,
I miss the carousing of the children
singing La Cucaracha under lamps
while they tag each other under
a recondite moon with nary a river.
La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar!
Porque buracha, porque buracha,
Ya no puede caminar.* The street
is dark here and there, the lamps
burnt out, but the crabgrass grow.

---Albert B. Casuga

*La Cucaracha—the cockroach; La cucaracha, ya no puede caminar! Porque boracha, porque boracha, ya no puede caminar!—The cockroach can no longer walk! Because it is drunk, because it is drunk! It can no longer walk! (Old Mexican Band song).

These are May Poems #3, #4, #5, and #6 in my poem-a-day exercise to keep Poetry alive online. These will also be posted in and My Notes Facebook, as well as Pinoy Poetry Circle

Wednesday, May 2, 2012



Here come the waves, scrolling their bluegreen pages. The carriage rolls back at each interval:  return, return, return.---Luisa A. Igloria, “Rotary”, Via Negativa, 05-01-12

1. The Imperative

Return. To where? An imperative loses its urgency
when challenged by an aimless interrogative. Huh?
Whence come the gumption of a little boy when he
Gives his mother “the lip” at the command: Time out!

Why? What did I do? Don’t you love me anymore?

A triptych of a query, but gets shut down: ‘Coz, I said so.
Thus the impenitent lad goes to his corner, sulks
the better part of the threatening stare of the mother,
but wins the day, when he is told to go wash his hands
and get ready for dinner before father comes home.

Much like the waves scrolling wet pages, they roll back
a carriage of flotsam at ebbtide, return to an open sea
and lose what fury they need to deliver an imperative.
Return. To where? Wherever. Whenever. However.

2.  A Lingering Ache

He traces the trailing colours of the sundown hiss,
and shrugs at the lingering ache twisting in his gut:
he knows there is no going back, when no one there
would no longer care to ask who you are or from where.

There is no old country for him who had left his corner
sullenly injured for dreams that cannot come true or
questions that will never  be answered: Why have you
quickly forgotten me, when all I wish is to return
and be forgiven for wondering if you don’t love me
any more than a prodigal son who still longs for you

But like the waves, she scrolls worn-out pages forever,
and these do not return; unlike the waves, she’ll never
return to an old shore, nor care if the sun rises again
from distant horizons. She locked her doors. She’s certain.

---Albert B. Casuga

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): THE GRAFFITI POEMS (1 TO 7)

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): THE GRAFFITI POEMS (1 TO 7)



She is back on the park’s toboggan hillock, / this time with the child he would not have. ---Graffiti 6, Triptych

“Frogs” was never meant  for those happy children
toddling behind her whistling like the pied piper.
That sultry night on the hilltop, she whispered:
You will make a good father. I carry your child.

How? Why? We were careful. We had Trojan!
Did you not use the morning-after pill I gave you?
Rather frenziedly, he slalomed down the hill
on his bare belly like a frothing madman. No!

No! He whined. I am leaving for Harvard soon!
Left alone on the darkened hillock, she called
out to him:  Will you marry me?  The night
quickly swallowed him, even as he sprayed
FROGS! on the nursery school’s walls. FROGS!
On the hill, she said, her frog test was positive.

Tracing the beginning and end of graffiti
on his path, the old man said: Voice, Love,
Peace. Why should it end in Frogs on a nursery
Had he seen the quartet of trees with the tale-
end of those street graffiti, Will you marry me?
he would have guessed Frogs was never for those
happy children toddling behind her, a pied piper.

Nor would he have thought this bedraggled tramp
selling him condoms and contraceptive morning-
afters knew what on earth he was babbling when
he said: Frogs croak in positive frog tests because
they are toads that kill all lust, all love, all life!
You wanna buy protection on that hill, old chappie
I knocked a girl up there one night. I got off. Pills?

---Albert B. Casuga

These are the final poems, Poem #30 and #31 in my poem-a-day project to mark the National Poetry Month (April). It is also the final graffiti poem (Graffiti Poems 1 to 7) that unravels the mystery behind Graffiti on the path of a stroller that ends on a quartet of trees on top of a toboggan hill and mistakenly thought to terminate on the walls of a nursery school. Some poet friends thought it would be interesting to follow the narrative thread behind the Graffiti poems. This accommodates their requests. ---ABC

Sunday, April 29, 2012



Fragments of sky are still visible behind the haze of new leaves. The cattails are shedding; tufts of down drift by. That Sunday silence.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 04-29-12

 It’s been some time since I heard that Sunday silence.
 Grandfather saw me tiptoeing away from his chair,
 his eyes half-closed, I suspect now, and he called out
 weakly, but that sounded like thunder to me then.
 Ven aqui, hijo. I had to toddle to his rocking chair,
 having been caught sneaking into the kitchen where
 grandmother grated coconut flesh from its shell.
 He stroked my head, closed his eyes, said nothing.

 One other Sunday, at the hospice, I must have roused
 the bejesus out of the elderly residents when I puled
 like that little boy again, seeing my wan Father in bed,
 a bedpan half-filled with cathetered urine on a chair
 where the harried attendant must have left it absently
 when he prowled for someone to lift this limp man
 up so he could fulfill his sporadic ablutions. Silence.
 He rasped: Go home, you are drunk. Don’t scare us.

 It’s another silent Sunday. I stoop out of bed, look out
 to a fragment of sky beyond the finally sprung leaves,
 and feel like a thousand more years than my sixty-nine.
 Someone from the kitchen said it was my birthday.

—Albert B. Casuga

This is Poem #29 in my poem-a-day project to celebrate National Poetry Month (April). My penultimate poem for the month, it happens to be my birthday poem, too.

Friday, April 27, 2012



Watched by a chipmunk at the end of the stone wall, I hold a mouthful of coffee in my cheeks, do my best to look as if I know how to live.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 04-26-12

 What does he know about being alive
 that the chipmunk would not know?
 Would laughing at his misadventure
 be one of his given talents? When he
 mimics the nutcracker with puffed-up
 cheeks worked out by a mouthful
 of caffeinated brew, might the rodent
 hysterically guffaw (in its own style),
 when he chokes on the mis-swallowed
 coffee, coughs his lungs out, spins
 out-of-body in a near-death episode?
 Betting odds: Who gets to laugh last?

–Albert B. Casuga

Here’s Poem #27 in my poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month.


Don’t add my name yet to the names of the dead on the wall. Don’t carve their letters edged in gilt on a crypt.---Luisa A. Igloria, “That shore from which we first pushed off, how far away is it now?”, Via Negativa, 04-25-12

 When death and dying are lumped together
 as “kicking the bucket,” there seems little
 reason for a lachrymose ritual that will cost
 a lifetime’s nest egg. And yet, and yet.

 A send-off at sea is as good as any–one
 is flushed off the starboard to become part
 of whence life came, or where it ends. Debris.

 Do not send for whom the bell tolls, some
 tired man holding a ready bucket of waste,
 warned the unready, unprepared, or untidy.
 Inexorably, inevitably, the bell takes its toll.

 Like a confusing game, kicking the bucket
 is nothing but a tiresome waiting game.
 Let the jasmine bloom where they may,
 when they may; no one has yet come back
 to say if they, too, were enriched by manure
 from the overturned pail, nor say, when the day
 the game ends, they had no bucket of waste.

—Albert B. Casuga

This is Poem #28 in my poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month (April).