Thursday, March 29, 2012


Photo by Bobby Wong Jr.


We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time. ---T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”, Four Quartets

By the time we got back,
the river had run dry.
Did we not plant stones
here to mark how far we
could swing on the vines
before springing naked
into the murky mudpool
to swim with the carabaos?

Look, the boulder of hearts
is still there—with names
of the little boys who died
stealing unhusked corn
from the bursting granary
of the only farmer in town.

Before hanging himself
from the barn’s only rafter,
he singed the bales of rice
and hay covering the sacks
where they hid, giggling
as they watched maestra
wrap her clean legs around
their math teacher’s waist,
and cried endlessly for god
or gods, for she felt good.

The fire ate them all, lads
still convulsing, teachers
still locked and quivering,
tubercular farmer dangling.

If the river were still here,
it would roar with stories:
the boy who survived, he
became the town mayor,
and he had the river bend
away to parch that farm
and plant the rock naming
it The Hardest Monument
for lads who still guffaw
when comparing versions
of that tale about the boys
burning while their eyes
melted popping, and their
cheating mentors rolling
on the hay, while farmer
firebug swung his cuckold
heart away watching his
unhusked corn stock move
and his piles of hay tumble
pell-mell amid entreaties 
to the gods to make those
burning moments last.

Rain caught us munching
corn from the burnt cob
at the corner store ran by
the farmer’s orphaned girl
who kept laughing at our
raunchy tattle-tales of fire
and monuments to tickled
voyeurs watching lovers burn.

Like old men in empty spaces,
we come back here to laugh
at what meaning we could
gather from our beginnings.

--- Albert B. Casuga

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


At mid-morning, the sky grows dark. Rumbles of thunder over the noise from the interstate. A small, white petal flutters down.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 03-28-12

Sense and notion meld
where sound is sight,
and stillness is moving.

It completes an oxymoron
for the day: What crack
of thunder and flash
of lightning would slice
this mid-morning sky
when the delicate petal,
small and white, finally
reaches the black, soggy,
and grass-mottled ground?

Closer to some still point,
on mid-day, I gulp my tea,
and gather all empty cups.

—Albert B. Casuga

Tuesday, March 27, 2012



I am/  going to learn me some joy/  if it is the last thing I ever do. ---Hannah Stephenson, “If It Is the Last Thing”, The Storialist, 03-26-12

You have your paintbrush and colours. Paint paradise, and in you go. ---Nikos Kazantzakis

I will learn me some joy is as good a graffiti
as any, if I were that roving paintbrush bandit
doing what plastic surgeons do on old faces.

Rather than spew mischief and hate on walls
that could not even cringe about bad spelling,
why can’t these muffled, lonely night rogues

take their rainbow mayhem to a bravura end?
Paint themselves their paradise, walk right in,
toss a tumbler of brandy, dance a wild whoopee,

learn from throbbing sunrises and loud sunsets,
that someone, somewhere beyond the clouds,
has bested them to this arresting colour game

of crystals at thaw, verdance in spring, foliage
paintings at fall, and dry earth in summer sepia.
There are graffiti artists and there is the Artist

who has painted himself his haven, entered it,
hung himself a hammock, hued himself happy,
and guzzled raindrops washing colour away.

---Albert B. Casuga

Monday, March 26, 2012



Love is most nearly itself/ When here and now cease to matter./ Old men ought to be explorers/ Here and there does not matter/ We must be still and still moving/ Into another intensity... T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”, Four Quartets

Too late to be afraid, I have left for places
to explore,  posted my address “nowhere”
and there will be no returning. Not here.

Not now, or anywhere. I have built me
caverns of love walled with sound, echoes
really, of cathedrals of thought and feeling

neatly folded into my threadbare knapsack
of everything that is old and do not matter:
Only the love, barely the love, all the love.

What is it? Where is it? How is it made?
How long will it last? Why call it a passion?
In that hill, on that rugged cross, it was. It is.

Where I shall go, I shall be asked: How long
did it take for you to know how to get home?
I always felt the tug, but never its intensity.

---Albert B. Casuga

Sunday, March 25, 2012



If you came this way,/ Taking any route, starting from anywhere,/ At any time or at any season,/ It would always be the same: you have to put off/ Sense and notion. – T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”, Four Quartets

You are beautiful! An unlikely graffiti
on the park bench brushed on the seat
and the back slats must shoo parkers
away---a stalker nearby? A pedophile?

Why not a lonely chap who has no one
to say those words to? Why not a lad
too shy to blurt it out to that ingénue?
Why not a happy-feeling litterbug?

You are beautiful should go a long way
into making a homely jogger feel she
could use the stroking, no one would
run a hand over those spindly dry legs.

Why not the kindest guess about mad
men painting nice things in the dark?

---Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, March 24, 2012



Sudden in a shaft of sunlight/ Even while the dust moves/ There rises the hidden laughter/ Of children in the foliage/ Quick now, here, now, always --/ Ridiculous the waste sad time/ Stretching before and after. --- T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”, Four Quartets.

The whimsy of reading graffiti
for some hidden code or life,
is one good excuse for a walk
through the same sprung trail
of surprise budding and talk
of Peace, Love, Voice: a Frog tale,
on a primrose path not taken
for doses of silence and prayer.

I must have started at the end
where the beginning must be:
one has painted the indelible
marks on a street not unlike
sheets of disturbed foliage still
roiling with absconding wind.
Perhaps it was meant to read:
Voice Love and Peace: Frogs.

Someone, sometime, in the dark,
Must have stopped pleading
for the wounded and hapless—
no cries ever get to heaven with
a prayer, nor would tears ever work:
would a scream of graffiti on roads
sound injurious enough for a yelp
of mercy; would a whimper of pain?

While children are being nurtured
on the art of throat-slitting mayhem,
voices abroad are not for love or peace
but for the sheer annoyance of frog-
like croaking: the frogs cry Occupy!
except that this Frog at walk’s end
has occupied a Nursery School’s wall.

Is someone in the dark finally saying,
this nook will not welcome slayers
of ceaseless joy, of the brightest look
at being here. The frogs in these
tender throats are defiantly croaking:
love grows here along with origami
and doodles of family picnics; peace
flows freely here among the shared
crayons and the colours of rainbow
graffitied on blank boards. Laughter

Is still the clear language of noiseless
caring, of fondness for what is gentle
and true, and the beautiful. Frogs
voice the peace of love here when
no one does anymore, because they are,
after all the children at play in a small
nursery where the trail ends. Frogs
voice love and peace. Our happy toads.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012



What remains after/ the marks are erased? Not nothing, say the physicists. / Not nothing, but poetry— says the artist. And I pause/  for a moment, trying to look harder into the corridor/ of darkness, knowing that everywhere I go, I have/ no idea how much I am seeing… / You could be the sound of a shutter, the blank/ accordion surface of blinds turned down for the night. ---Luisa A. Igloria, “Erasure”, Via Negativa, 03-13-12

Look harder into the darkened corridor
after the shutters have gone down,  

ignore the clipped clatter of slats slapped
shut with peremptory indifference; 

blurred shadows should start jumping
through them  as lingering sunrays 

slither like paper-thin serpents flapping
languidly with the stale air. I am there. 

How else will my lost carrion incarnate
except through the quiver of hungry loins 

trembling achingly through cold nights
when your frenzied fight with the pillows 

and caressing flannel become urgent noise
echoing unsatedly needy behind shutters.

--- Albert B. Casuga

Saturday, March 17, 2012


(Photo from the Globe and Mail, 03-15-12)


The children were not always the best soldiers...He found them obedient and fearless. ---Geoffrey York, The Globe and Mail, 03-15-12 


He said he did not know where his maman
lived anymore; their last mud hut was razed
to the ground, then levelled by the monsoon
like mudpacks, maybe like half-baked biscuits
they get rationed every two weeks on the run. 

He pointed to the photograph I showed him,
a gift, a memento, if he told me his war story.
She will never see it anyway, even if you found
her, probably buried in that hovel, now bone-
marked grave where the firepit used to burn.
Alive, she would have to be crazy and brave
to hide this picture of me in uniform and gun.
Not allowed by mon oncle Thomas, he sneered.
What he would recount haltingly between sighs
and a raspy cough, sounds like a locker-room
tale, if he even knew what secrets a lad hid in one. 

No different here. Swings at the Mission school?
We jump into springpools here from swinging
vines when we find one or ordered to clean
our behinds and our sweat-caked uniforms,
loose boots, dirty rusty kleesneekoffs* once
or twice a month out of the camps, like school
break, you know. We are strong here, no one
cries, not even when shot by mistake as a boar
in the dark at sundowns, or attacked by huge
mother birds while we took their eggs off nests
in the smallest trees you would ever see could
grow in the deserts. Like camping in the wild. 

You know that nun teacher who taught me
how to wash my hands and pray before meals?
I did not bother asking her to lie down between
the bookshelves when I did it to her, bent, and
from behind, you know?  Oooooo... aaahhhh...
That old fart who owned the mango trees
we stole fruit from when we last saw the Mission?
I put a hole as big as his mouth on his forehead,
for the scars he gave me when he caught me once,
on a branch, hurriedly munching on his green,
lousy mangoes. We got power here. We fight
for Fatherland, Mon Oncle Thomas says. I agree.
But the picture? My maman will only hide it. 


Look, abuelo, she halloed high from her swing,
her giggle as raucous as those she would scream
when I bring her to the mock-jungle playground,
Mighty Jungle,  and she would play Tarzan to her
baby brother’s cheetah. He would slide through
the tubes singing the new French ditty learned
from the Ecole, she bansheeing like the leader
of a hyena pack, brave, tough, and strong. 

O, my children, I will give my life for this to go
on and on and on. Laugh, mon amour. Laugh!
I would rather you were in a make-believe world
than see you strong and brave, and tough, and
go home to close window shutters that hide away
your tears and a lonely, cold bed of dreams
that are not yours, nor worlds not of your making. 

---Albert B. Casuga

*Kalashnikovs---Russian Machine Guns

News Item: (From the Globe and Mail, 03-15-12)

Somewhere in Congo---Mr. Lubanga’s militia, The Union of Congolese Patriots, was one of the combatants in a vicious tribal war in 2002 and 2003 in northeastern Congo, where an estimated 60,000 people were killed. 

Some of the children in Mr. Lubanga’s militia are as young as 9, witnesses testified. Some as young as 5 were placed in training camps because they would “grow up as real soldiers.”  A commander said. “The depfendant stole the childhood of the victims by forcing them to kill and rape,” said the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.               

It was the first international criminal case to focus on the use of child soldiers, and it could lend momentum to the fight to prosecute others for similar crimes---including Joseph Kony, leader of teh Lord’s Resistance Army, the target of a wildly popular video by the nongovernmental organization Invisible Children that has gone viral in the Internet with more than 100 million viewing. 

Tens of thousands of child soldiers are still conscripted or recruited in more than 25 countries around the world, including for at least 15 armed conflicts... --- War Crimes Court Convicts Militia Leader (Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga found guilty of recruiting and using children as soldiers, bodyguards, and sex slaves.)--Geoffrey York, The Globe and Mail, March 15, 2012, Johannesburg.

(Click on image to zoom in on text. From the Globe and Mail, 03-15-12)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



...No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice/...Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehoods/ Teach us to care and not to care/ Teach us to sit still/...Our peace in His will/...And let my cry come unto Thee. ---T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday”


That would have required a lot of fences,
a lot of denuded trunks, fallen trees even. 

You would have to stare at backyards
green with revived spring grass, risking 

life and limb. “Is this your graffiti? Is it?”
But the three words I stepped on, walking 

on the trail, in dotard cadence: Peace, Love:
they were temple bromides. But Voice? 

They were sprawled on the grime, like
drunken derelicts, one did not have to look 

but be accosted by their urgent demand
on winding asphalt: Peace. Love. Voice. 

Like four-letter words, they surprise one
whose habit is to look down in timorous 

gait, troubled by daily lust, greed, and lies
dreading mayhem from a gaze at the sky. 


Peace. A span of walls for a five-letter word,
perhaps havoc among the mansion lords 

writhing in the spasm of murderous oath:
“Let me not catch the spineless vandal!  

Or heaven forbid, I will sever both his arms
from his bastard shoulders. No piece spared 

among his vile fingers. I will pluck his eyes
from their sockets. Paint “PEACE” with blood 

oozing from hollowed holes in his crushed
face, across his torso, down to his dirty groin!” 

I wonder at my walk’s anguish over the murder
of children, old women, and decrepit men 

in the hovels of Kandahar by a calculating
American Marine, Rambo-like, making a target 

practice out of frightened children, burning
their lean-to homes, maybe urinating, too, 

on corpses like those cut-up Taliban lined up
by YouTubed U.S. soldiers in nasty whoopee. 

Is this hurt, after all, not a misplaced dread
that peace is nothing now but a dying dream? 


Love.  Like a four-letter word, it could not
have been used nor even abused in Homs 

where Syrian fathers, brothers, and armed
kin mowed down children, more children, 

dismembered children and all who could not
escape the carnage  at Karm el-Zeitoun to call 

down a leader beleaguered by an Arab Spring
blazing like fiery poems as flamethrowers. 

“Disarm the shabiba* or arm village defenders.
This is our civil war! “As if war could be civil. 

As if love were a filthy four-letter word thrown
at the askance who ask: How could you love 

your country when you butcher your lovers
and plead for arming your rebels to wage war? 


Voice. Ah, the avant-garde call to general
quarters. From a challenging cry of rebellion, 

is it perhaps rapidly withering? Voice your pain.
Occupy! Voice your anger. Occupy! Vox populi 

Vox Dei. Occupy! Wall Street, Bay Street, or
even streetcars name Desire. Occupy! Occupy! 

From the stupor of a languid walk, one recalls
a Via Dolorosa, a lonely wounded walk up 

the Hill of Skulls, a golgotha presides over
a cacophony of voices, noises: Crucify! Crucify? 

Is this not, somehow, the direst of oxymorons
when the spread-eagled, nailed, pinioned man 

counsels love for neighbours? You will be with
me in paradise; forgive them, they know not 

what they do. Yet, did he not shout out his pain:
Father, why have you abandoned me? Why? 

The people must have their Voice. It is the Voice
of God. Soon, in the British Parliament, learned 

voices will argue why the Crucifix should not
be worn on stewardess’s lapels, or civil servants 

yearning for the equivalent of a tolerated turban,
or even a recondite dagger, all symbols of faith. 


I step on these words graffitied on the sprung
trail. I mutter: Peace, Love, Voice. I did not fall. 

He did, got lashed, mocked. Kicked to stand
with his burden, he insisted on loving even 

enemies, even those who cried: Crucify Him!
On my quaint walk through a new spring on 

Glen Erin trail, I shrugged the lingering cold off
and whispered: Here is my empty heart. Occupy it.


*Shabiba --- Government thugs

Friday, March 9, 2012



Even when things are true or false, they are true and false. (True or False)---Hannah Stephenson, The Storialist, 03-07-12

How much truth is there in wooing?
I shall but love thee after death?  

When they are earnest, are they true?
How much more hyperbole is needed 

before protested passion turns false,
as urgent only as desire must be sated? 

Quite like a mirage, what is seen now
is unseen on the other side of a wall: 

everything can become nothing here.
They were never there to start with. 

What then is reality? Why even accept
that either one is true or it is false? 

The long shadow at sundown is there
on the porch wall, but was it also dread? 

It is a magic scarcely accepted or used.
Being here assumes not being there 

but has always been a place where
things cannot be here or there without 

your insistence that these are true
or false because you are there to name 

them what they may be or why, as you
have always done since you ran away 

from home to flex newfound power
to call false true and true false, and let 

things live or die where they may,
because you assigned them that meaning.

---Albert B. Casuga