Wednesday, April 11, 2012


A Photo by Bobby Wong Jr., Ifugao Rice Terraces, Philippines


What would I give to be a vein on the side of the red maple whose leaves tremble in the wind? I want to be plucked like that again, tuned to singing....Every now and then I crave the iron taste of swamp spinach, the thin scraps that tether marrow to the inside of bone. Something true, unapologetic; something that doesn’t merely settle into the background, fade into the atmosphere, trick you into thinking this is all there can be, and nothing more.---Luisa Igloria. “Lament”, Via Negativa

The lilt of a noseflute over the farthest reaches
Of the valley is an echo of sundown orisons 
You long for; it is as true as the joy of a harvest
Dance, and laughter over who finds the longest
Marrow inside the butchered offering’s bones,
Or cull the biggest bowl of buffalo’s ligaments
That could float or sink int0 the vats of caldo,
Keeping us all warm and raring for jars of basi
While we sing or even howl carousing songs
Known only to this edge of the terraces where
Endless sunsets will mark the birth and rebirth
Of the fondest and happiest remembrances
Of a time gone by that villagers thought was all
That can be, and nothing more. Thus, a sacrifice.

You grew beyond those magical full moon rituals,
And discovered your own necromancy elsewhere
Where dead worlds are decreed alive again from
Your throne of songs and words, where finally
You feel the throb of these mountains in your
Veins and wish they were plucked like strings
In your heart and make you sing as the happy
Child that must return with the sun, again and
Again, in glorious bravura over these blue hills,
Unapologetic and never merely a background.

---Albert B. Casuga

*Caldo -- bone soup; Basi -- Sugar cane wine

This is poem #11 in a poem-a-day celebration of National Poetry Month (April). Triggered by Luisa A. Igloria's "Lament" published in Dave Bonta's Via Negativa. This marks a year-long poetic collaboration with the poets who have worked hard to resuscitate poetry appreciation.

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