Saturday, February 25, 2012



Maligned silence, milky as the swirl / at the bottom of a cup, toward which/ the face bends to drink, wanting more.---From “To Silence” by Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa,. 02-20-12 

Silencio! Por Dios! Dionisia, drive the children away,
Father must get his rest on his rocking chair before
Doctor Querol sees him today. Rapido, hora mismo! 

She had those sewing glasses on, tumbling on her
Indio nose. (They were not mestiza-nariz). Senora
Dona, Patron, however they called her. She was strong. 

Como esta, Dora?  Bien, gracias! Y usted, Antonio?
If the ailing padre de familia, somnolent on his chair,
heard her greet the family doctor with a bit of alacrity 

he would grip her now bony fingers, los dedos finos
of those schooled in the conquistador’s Cartilla, and
would have rasped: Hija, mia! Con poquito verguenza! 

He did not stir when the Madrid-trained physician
placed an unwarmed stethoscope on his rib-cage,
first on the right, then on the left, then quickly back. 

He held his pulse, he grabbed a warm lavacara
ready in the mayordoma’s hands, wiped the old
man’s face, grabbed a vial of streptomycin…Oooh. 

When he looked at her, he with the aquiline nose,
he with the manners of the caballero of olden days
before the kempetai  razed mansions like theirs 

so the Yanquis and maybe loose guerrillero bands
would not feign control in those huge houses,
the ilustrados shared a municipio as their homes. 

Aiee, Dora! Lo siento mucho, Dora. But Alejandro
has just left us! She stared at the swirl at the bottom
of the warm milk he would normally take after siesta. 

Dionisia started jumping around in manic grief,
The hired help, the Japanese governadorcillo,
stood silently. She drank the milk instead. Gave me 

the rest, from powdered Yanqui milk, while I stared
at her wrapping the absent Patron with the franela
sent to him earlier by his brothers, the Freemasons, 

together with the wall-to-wall portrait of their hero,
Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal, who seemed to stare down
at me with a stony silence I would describe in a novel 

much, much later, when I recovered enough sense
not to malign silence, even if it comes from the bottom
of an empty cup, and, why have I always wanted more? 

---Albert B. Casuga

Photo courtesy of "Talk Talk Tilaok" (Blog) Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal, Philippine-Spanish Revolution martyr and patron of the Freemasons in the Philippines of the 1900s. (

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): BESAME ME MUCHO

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): BESAME ME MUCHO

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): TA-TA TO ALL THAT THEN?

Ambit's Gambit (A. B. Casuga Litblog): TA-TA TO ALL THAT THEN?


his BlogLinked From HereHER UPANISHAD

If it were here and whole, the heart/ would think this was a nest. ---Luisa A. Igloria, Via Negativa, 02-22-12

Abuela*, dear soul and headstrong,
Asked me to bury her sitting down:

Must be where the limestones met
With the road, so I could take the bus.

The bus to where? To meet with Jose
Who has been waiting all this time.

When he left with the conquistador*
On the galleon, he would sew for them.

Even today was no different. She must
Answer her own questions. No one.

No one knows how long I waited.
There is a bench at the iglesia.* Ours.

We met there on a Misa de Gallo,*
He promised we would have Pascuas.*

As long as the pew was there. Burned.
They came, los barbaros *, burned it.

No one built the church again. No one.
I will not be buried there, hijo. Nunca.*

No lying down for me. Must be ready
to move when Jose will take me home.

She turned a hundred-three that day,
but reminded me to bury her sitting.

Lest I forget. If I kept my word, would
grandfather really have taken her home?

Would the bus have stopped for her,
terno, panuelo,* and all, quietly sitting?

On a stone grave among the limestones?
She would insist: It is my nest, Don Jose.

--- Albert B. Casuga
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Monday, February 20, 2012


Click on Image to zoom in on Text.



 (For Koharu Hiratsuka, Decapitated by Tsunami, March 28, 2011)


Querulous cries of a raccoon, like lost notes from a soprano clarinet. Two pileateds hammer for their breakfast—an arrhythmic percussion.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-20-12 

It sounded querulous then before it was angry.
Even as she digs with bobcats now, her hands
tremble at the touch of every flotsam, debris
from the mud that still buries Ishinomaki. 
Koharu! Koharu! Koharuuuuuuuuuu…
she calls out even before she mounts
the oriole-like excavator she traded
with the books and pencils at Okawa
Primary School. A sensei first, she
has blended rather oddly into a daily scene of diggers, trundling trucks
carting out anything and everything that can be scraped from a landscape
rended by the temblor’s uglier sister:                                    Tsunami. Tsunami.
Koharuuuuuu….Koharu. Koharu…                                            peters out into sobs
now, and it’s been almost                                                                  a year of sunrise to
           @@@@@@@@                                                                            sundown digging.
Koharu. Koharu. Koharuuuuuuuu…I must
Make her whole again.  I must find her hair,
her eyes, her mouth. Oh, Great Otosan out
there, I will be here until the end of tomorrows
and more, and I will rouse you from your sleep,
and cry for my daughter. Will you give her back?
     Brackish tides roar in and out of the sea
          dumping black Sargasso pickled
            in oil not her girl. Not Koharu.             

“Koharu, are you there in your broken schoolhouse?
Look, from this distance, it looks like your toothless
father’s indelible grimace, he has stopped talking,
except to the tatami walls when he drowns in sake
so he would not feel the twist of this god-given
Sepuku, this knife in his gut, this loss, this loneliness. 

He is not here digging for you, Koharu, but do not
be sad, come home soon. Touch his face. Tell him
it is not a shame not to be able to cry anymore.
The onions he cuts for our sashimi at noontime
will not make him weep, he says. He has just given up
on all of Miyagi Prefecture’s ancestors and shin tao.*
Where were they when the monster wave cut my
daughter’s head and cut our lives,  he growls daily.

There is not a day he does not look at your picture,
Koharu. On the hill beside Okawa, he has built
a stone stairway where, he says, you will run toward
when the wave comes again. Not the bridge, he yells.
All our tomadachi* whose children perished then
think he has lost his mind. No, darling, his heart. 

Not I, not I, Koharu. If you don’t come today, I will
be here again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and…
I will not even give our Shinto ancestors a chance
to rest. No, not I, my love, until I see your face
once more, one so much like your grandmother’s,
your hair as dark and silky as your grandfather’s,
your lips as red as red can be, your birdlike mouth
I delighted in feeding the rice I first masticated
in my own so you would not choke on your meal
of seaweed and kane and ika, oh, and octopus!” 

Sounds at sundown not unlike lost notes from
a soprano clarinet, are blended for some time now
with the doleful call: Koharu. Koharuuuuuuuuuu…
until Hiratsuka climbs into the cab of her digger,
and starts searching for her daughter’s severed
head amidst the urgent percussion of excavators.

---Albert B. Casuga

This poem was based on Toronto Star reporter Raveena  Aulakh’s 02-18-12 story of Naomi Hiratsuka who has left her teaching job to become an excavator operator so she could recover the head of her daughter, Koharu, who got decapitated in the Tsunami disaster that hit Fukushima, Japan (Miyagi Prefecture) on March 28, 2011. She has been at her quest for almost a year now, when her search of mucking in the mud was replaced by her taking on the challenge of operating a mechanized excavator. (See story. Click on image to zoomed on the text.

*Akiramena – the one who never gives up; sensei –- teacher;  Otosan -- father, mother; shin tao – way of the gods;  tomadachi – friends; kane – crab; ika – shrimps; sashimi – raw fish cutlets;  Shinto – ancestor worship

Photo by Yuriko Nakao. Reuters.
Click on image to zoom in.

Saturday, February 11, 2012



Snow in progress: curtains that fall and fall until they become the show itself. A nuthatch like a prompter—its anxious calls.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 02-11-12

Curtain falls. The show begins.
The end is really its start.
Like small stories before this,
a protagonist struts on the stage,
his antagonist leaps unto a wing,
they quickly mumble their lines,
and like crossed swords swoon
into muffled profanities sworn
to befall the other at cockcrow. 

Nothing thickens the plot, no
act curdles to beg for untangling,
there is no climactic resolution.
The stage is darkened and bare.
No one stirs for a curtain call,
not even a stagehand to watch
a quick and easy curtain fall.
Like life imitating a theatre act,
there is no audience for this end.

--- Albert B. Casuga