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)

GRAFFITI 7, FROGS AND WHY: Two Poems



GRAFFITI 7:  FROGS AND WHY: TWO FINAL POEMS


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


1.
“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.



2.
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
04-30-12




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

SUNDAY SILENCE



SUNDAY SILENCE



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
 04-29-12



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

TWO POEMS: THE STAND-OFF and YEARNING FOR THE OTHER SIDE



THE STAND-OFF


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
 05-26-12




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






YEARNING FOR THE OTHER SIDE


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
 04-26-12




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




Thursday, April 26, 2012

HIS UNFINISHED HOUSE THERE



HIS UNFINISHED HOUSE THERE



...But for/ travel, scarcity. I am/ leaving room. I am/ willing away all that/ I do not need.---Hannah Stephenson, “Traveling Light”, The Storialist,  04-25-12



He said there was the old Bulova watch
hanging on the nail behind the door
in his room. It still works. It is yours.


He willed away a relic he did not need,
there was no pawnshop there anyway.
His turned down thumb belied his smile.


There was always his other word for away.
When I go there, I will be there awhile,
and there is no coming back there. None
.


He looked away then, pointing to a frame
on the hospital wall, Our unfinished house,
finish it. It is yours. But shelter everyone
.


He gave me time when there was none
left to finish his house so he could go there.
There was nothing he needed there. Nothing.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-26-12




This is Poem #26 in my poem-a-day project to celebrate National Poetry Month (April 2012).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GRAFFITI 6, SOLTERA: A TRIPTYCH



GRAFFITI 6: SOLTERA


1.
Those were her graffiti on the quartet
of trees atop the park hill. He saw them.


Will you marry me? That would have
sounded like a doleful plea. A dare, maybe?


Get those trees to say them. She plotted.
After all, were they not his conspirators


on those sultry nights when they would
giggle at the slightest tickle of twig or cone


on their backs? Be gentle with me, she said.


2.
She is back on the park’s toboggan hillock,
this time with the child he would not have.


Mother, she said, look at how happy they
Are. They are all, all my children now.


She could not see their faces from the hill,
but she could make their laughter out


over the din of bells calling them back
to the nursery school her brave girl built.

Be gentle with them, Maestra, she said.



3.
Soltera,* she would introduce herself ,
as she would have described her mother,


except this strong woman in her arms,
looking bravely at the stream of children


toddling behind them, would not admit
to her being alone or lonely. Graffiti on


the quartet of trees have long disappeared
under unforgiving barks. But they are there.


Be gentle with me is a warning, not a plea.



--Albert B. Casuga
04-25-12



*Soltera--alone, single.



This is Poem #25 in my poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month (April).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DRUTHERS



DRUTHERS


Snow falling faster than it can melt. Unto every one that hath shall be given, says the sky: hawthorn and bridal wreath now twice as white.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch



 If he had his druthers, he’d rather not be given:
 too little time for too much to give back on.
 A keen eye to see both sides of a magic coin?
 Be a magistrate then, look for the right and just.
 And snow falling faster than it can melt?
 What ever for? He’d rather they all blow back
 to whatever skies they’ve fallen from. Too late
 anyway for the grandkids who prayed as hard
 as the grumbling Imam now hoarse with his
 praying at the muezzin. What’s a hillock for
 if it is not snowbound for tobogganing? He will
 not suffer the little ones to miss their winter
 sleigh. On the other hand, this could be a wayward
 winter storm giving back a late wallop for having
 been given a welter of clouds and a clash of heat
 and cold. He said it’s worth a shrug, like cold tea.





—Albert B. Casuga
 04-23-12

This is Poem #24 of my poem-a-day project to celebrate National Poetry Month (April).

Monday, April 23, 2012

GRAFFITI 5, TWO POEMS: TREE TRUNK THOUGHTS






GRAFFITI 5, TWO POEMS: TREE TRUNK THOUGHTS



1. Reading Graffiti 


He thought he read it right, graffiti on his path:
Voice, Love, Peace. Then Frogs on the nursery.

How could he have missed the toboggan hillock,
At the road’s fork as the terminal for those words?

Voice love peace, frogs; frog’s peace love voice:
Reading them coming from or going to the park

Is like reading Braille with stone blind eyes. Try
Intoning them like a soloist’s sol-fa sans sound,

A mute contralto, or mimed oxymoron. Meaning
Flies in the face of urgent pleading. Graffiti must

Yell its halloo, to reach out to all those cavorting
On the grass beyond the asphalt, among the trees

On the children’s hill, (the winter’s peace offering
For lovers of slush and snow). Graffiti must punch

The heart of the numb, scare it into beating again.
Quite like a prima volta, it makes a quick return

To the melody lest it be lost in a rude cacophony
Of inadvertent refrains. Voice love and peace,

Not the vulgar croak of a frog plastered for eyes
And ears to sense on despoiled walls or fences. 



2. Re-Reading Graffiti (On Trees)


Because he craved a clear picture of the sunset,
An old man’s attempt at a silent prayer, he took

The challenge of the little hill, trudged to its top,
And found the gentle tale-end of what otherwise

Would have been a jarring sequence of useless
Graffito on the ground or up the walls. Eureka!

Four trunks facing the sun bore the last four
Words that started on the street and cross over

To the footpath of the hill that seemed to echo
With children’s laughter. A quartet of trees like

The praetorians on the Hill, basked with unlikely
Planned graffiti: |WILL| |YOU| |MARRY||ME?|

Lend voice to love and peace. Will you marry me?
Was it a lovesick lad’s supplication? Or a fearful

Girl’s who dreaded the broken troth of a sulking
Swain when told he would make a good father?

At sundown, even the glorious bravura of light
Could not distract him from an unfolding story.

Why would lovers dread the prospect of a child?
He asked the trees absently.  They were silent.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-22-12


These poems continue the Graffiti Series I started last March. As Poem #22 and Poem #23, they are part of the poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month (April).







Saturday, April 21, 2012

HIS STUDY


HIS STUDY



He said wallpapers in his study must be plain;
no flowers, trees, birds, or senseless curlicues
can match the birth-to-baptism-to-birthday
pictures that he prays would include weddings,
births, elf-looking poses of children and theirs,
grandchildren and theirs (he’d be a hundred),
framed and frozen in time, a collection of smiles
that would bind the Earth like a ribbon of glee
when knotted from-pursed-end to-toothy-end.


He said he will be the memento-keeper of long
remembrances, a Methuselah of happy times,
and he would not exchange his role for places
in havens of peace and quiet, he’d have laughter
and surprise squeals of romping lads and lasses,
infants once, gossoons and ingénues forever.


All his waking and sleeping hours are litanies
of joie de vivre: was that Marie on the turf?
How new, yet how knowing her whole-face
smile comes through like a burst of sunshine
that promises a long-drawn spring, a summer
of running across strawberry fields, jumping
into lily-mottled rivers. Was that Matthew
sprawled on the soccer green, his megawatt
grin saying: I’m okay, gramps, okay. Okay?
Was that Chloe in a princess’ veil? Did she
do that regal pirouette, and that wild bourree?
Was that Megan with her palette and canvas,
showing off a portrait of a once chubby Mikee?
Was that him needing help blowing his cake’s
Candles, and all ten grandchildren lending it?


Abandon all dread and heartbreak you who
enter this space, this paradise
, his artlessly
scribbled sign on his door warned. This place,
this heart, this parlour of warmth and love,
this refuge.
He looked at all his frames again,
Reminded the renovator: No decor. Just plain.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-20-12


*My grandchildren: First row: Michael Albert, Louis Martin, Chloe Dominique; Second row: Megan Sarah, Taylor Lauren, Sydney Alexis (with hat); Last row: Matthew Francis, Daniel Anthony, Diana Dy (eldest) carrying Marie Clementine. At the baptismal rites for Marie (our youngest grandchild).



This is Poem 20 in my poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month April).                                                   

Friday, April 20, 2012

A BRIGHT RAW WOUND



A BRIGHT RAW WOUND


There’s the sky’s bright wound again, open, gaping. And its eyes/  are bottomless wells, staring. Too naked, too raw, too much.---Luisa Igloria, “Heartache Ghazal”, Via Negativa, 04-18-12.


How much of a pain is too much?
Is it a bottomless wound, gaping
like the sun when the dark sky
ought really to be shroud of gloom?

Must it cut through every layer
of lost time blurring remembrance?
It will not scab over, it is forever
like all sunrises and all sundowns.

Those haunting eyes that follow him
from the picture resting on a wall
now peeled off its once bright colour,
is the shape of that unending heartache.

“I will cut my heart out before I forsake
you, madre querida,” he promised her
at his father’s deathbed. Like that bright
gaping wound in a naked, blackened sky,

it is a raw sunburst that makes her smile
on the stalking picture a piercing sneer.
How much of pain is too much?
Not as much as her silence even in pain.


---Albert B. Casuga
04-19-12


The white sky’s bright wound slowly scabs over. A groundhog’s head emerges from the hole under the bedroom, its eyes as bottomless as wells---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch prompt.



This is Poem 19 in my poem-a-day project marking National Poetry Month (April 2012).  Thanks to triggers found in Luisa A. Igloria’s “Heartache Ghazal” (which was her response to Dave Bonta’s The Morning Porch prompt and published in his literary blog Via Negativa) , our poetic collaboration continues. Both poets have largely encouraged this writer to top his poem-a-day work by more than 400 after a year and a half of collaboration. Ohio poet Hannah Stephenson is likewise owed for inspiring this writer to create poems out of triggers in her The Storialist, her daily poem blog.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

FEET OF CLAY

Photo by Franco Patricio, New Jesey, USA

FEET OF CLAY


Cool and overcast. The soft thump of a bird side-swiping a window. An ant walks with exquisite slowness up the side of the house.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch



Abuelo had a stock warning to the family cochero*
which was also his daily mantra: "slow down, hijo,
we are rushing." That was probably his pet peeve,
because he would walk  most times to town, white
gabardine suit and Barcelona cane, ramrod clean,
chin unnervingly up, eyes alertly espying greeters
from morning porches: Hola, primo, como esta?
Estoy bien, querida. Donde esta su esposo guapo?*

Conversation stalls, she casts her eyes down, exits
to a shuttered room, and waves him hasta la vista.*


Cool and overcast mornings like these prompt me
still to consider how quickly a sweet-bird of youth
perishes hearing whispers of furtive assignations,
quite like the fractured sparrow crashing through
the windowpane trying to snatch the bulky red ant
still exquisitely inching its way beyond the shards.
An Icarus to his Daedalus, I was enchanted by him
to adore all he stood for. I did not imagine myself
plummeting, even as he walked slowly away letting
my hand go when all I wanted was to hold on fast.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-17-12




* Abuelo--Grandfather; Cochero--driver; Hola,  primo, como esta?-- Hello, cousin, how are you? Estoy bien, querida. Donde esta su esposo guapo?--I am well, dear girl. How is your handsome husband? Hasta la vista.---Till I see you again.


This is Poem 18 in my poem-a-day project to mark National Poetry Month. It was originally posted in Dave Bonta’s The Morning Porch, My Facebook Notes, and http://ambitsgambit.blogspot.com




Photo by Franco Patricio of New Jersey, USA

Monday, April 16, 2012

A PENNY FOR HIS THOUGHTS



A PENNY FOR HIS THOUGHTS



Breezy and cool. Small white moths—or are they flower petals?—flutter against the grey sky. A field sparrow’s ascending notes.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch



Because it looked like an unwashed navel,
The penny had no pickers, until he found it.


He said it is either the day’s lucky coin or it
Is a token that his thought was worth one.


First thought: the moth in the sparrow’s
Beak could pass for a small white petal.


Why would that be a strange image?
These windshield defecators scavenge


For wrigglers or anything small and alive,
But flowers? Birds will not prey on beauty,


Random as it may be in this unlikely garden,
They would rather chew on moving things,


Like wrigglers, dumpster maggots, scooped
Dog or cat poop still warm in grocery bags.


Final  thought: Why would I prefer to keep
The dirty coin instead of leaving it there?


No choice can be made between a coin
And a petal; I’d have all or nothing at all.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-15-12





This is Poem 17 of my poem-a-day project to celebrate National Poery Month (April).  It is a response to a post of Dave Bonta in his The Morning Porch.



Sunday, April 15, 2012

HIS PRIVATE GRIEF



HIS PRIVATE GRIEF



...Fall, turn, and now,/ what to do.  Feel it. You are hereby given/ permission to fail. Let us be led together, / all fall, hands swallowing each other’s hands. ---Hannah Stephenson, “Permission to Fail”

Even so, I keep creating, I am capable./ I will calmly allow its heaviness/and stand when it goes. It will.---Hannah Stephenson, Pressing Ghosts



Dread is all that is left to fear.
How fearsome can dreadful be?
When pounding the writing pad
will not work, and periphrasis
shrouds the shape of feelings,
you are there. Have you lost it?


Have the empty spaces taken over?
Nothing devours as quickly as holes
that make up a mind’s sinkholes,
unforgiving vortices not unlike
the death of remembrances, temps
perdu
gobbling life like corn off cobs.


Where have all the pieces gone?
Even the sundown shadows dancing
on empty walls  are now chimera,
spelling nothing, nor are ideographs
from crude outlines of senseless
Rorschach designs any help now.


When have they conspired to eat
language up, leaving cobbled blocks
of fancy aspire toward the nadir
of fearsome nightmares and silence,
where meaning is pure confusion,
where a heart throb is an aching itch?


Dread is all there is left and courage
is a mocking harlequin proclaiming
power to move on, go on, write on,
bleed on, live on, creating the cipher
known only to absent phrase hewers
who pretend a hoarse hem is a song.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-15-12




This is Poem 16 in my poem-a-day project celebrating National Poetry Month (April). Ohio poet Hannah Stephenson's project to study the core of writers' fears. and how they goad or stymie their creativity,  provided the trigger for this poem which I had to finish beyond midnight, fearful that if I did not sit at my writing desk, the Muse will bring the poem instead to a more courageous "hewer of phrase" or "a periphrastic expression"of thought and feeling.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE RHYTHM OF MIRACLES

(Click the image to zoom in on Text)


THE RHYTHM OF MIRACLES



Baby found alive after 12 hours in morgue.... “Mama, you came for me.” ---Toronto Star, 04-12-12 headline.  Associated Press report in the Star quoting a TeleNoticias interview .
And yet,/  night will not touch this cargo.---Luisa A. Igloria, “Fire Report”  Via Negativa


1.
Bare hours between them happening,
Will it spell the rhythm of miracles?
The maw of a bay and its clean beach
Would have been a an easier grave
For a wayward plane soon jettisoned
By its airmen, but it fell on dwellings
Instead, razing homes and lifetimes,
But could not kill one baby in its crib.
No casualties, media reports around
The globe, not this child in his arms
As he chokes on his stuttered TV words:
Can anyone survive this helluva fire?

The village folk quickly call it a miracle.
Children cut down in war need one, too.


2.
Oceans away, where there are orchids,
Music, dancing, and wine, the gloom
Of doctors decreeing to quickly inter
What they pronounced a still-born child,
Rocked the stillness of a semana santa,
When from its wee coffin in the morgue
She cried in a tiny but jolting whimper
Only mothers can hear from their wombs.
When she fell to her knees at that vault,
Her mother said: “... as if she was saying:
“You came for me.” Te vuelva para mi.*
No, Luz Milagros, you returned to me.

Elsewhere, countless children will never
Go back to their villages. They cannot.




---Albert B. Casuga
04-13-12






 *Te vuelva para mi: You came back for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

SHRUGS: TWO POEMS



SHRUG FROM ABOVE, SHRUG FROM BELOW


The Carolina wren goes from querulous chirps to full-throated denunciations from the top of the dead cherry tree. But the snow continues.---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch


1.
Did the wren say “Occupy!”? Sounded like a cackle.
So much depends upon full-throated protests
where no one listens except the panhandlers
looking for the best spots to put their coin pots in.


Did Wall Street listen? Will child labour cease in
Bangladesh? Brave hearts will yell, some get jailed.
Most curse the dark, but would not light candles.
What else is new? That’s what mouths are for, eh?


The wren on top of the dead cherry tree shakes snow
off its wings, skips on to a larger branch, cackles,
and flies off to a garbage bin at the Seniors Home
where even that is sheltered from revisiting snow.



2.
She looked out of her frosted window,
saw the scavenging bird peck a hole
into one of the handsomely-lined bags,
and screamed: get the damn bird off
those garbage bags, shut its cackling up!


The building superintendent looked up
at her, shrugged, and sipped his cold tea.
It is a wren, missus, and it’s better off
in the dumpster than on the dead tree.
Better for it to eat dirty than fly hungry.


The wren stayed silent, missus cackled.
Healthy worms wriggled out of the bags.



—Albert B. Casuga;
 04-11-12



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A DIVE INTO ORIGIN

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

A DIVE INTO ORIGIN



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
04-11-12



*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.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WHAT THE WAVES SAID



WHAT THE WAVES SAID


(Bataan Day, April 9.  For the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor and their widows)


...What did/ the jeans say to the woman’s calf when/ she stood near the ocean./ What did the wave say to the woman/ when it drenched her.--- Hannah Stephenson, “That’s How I Roll”, The Storialist



She must go back there, one way or the other,
it is a dive into her origin. Why not a caress?
She will need one to get to the other. Knowing
them all, the smell of the brine, of pungent
sweat on the backs of the lads who carried
her into the church then floating with mud:


They held her gingerly by her thighs, ruffles
wafting in the unseasonal wind, her panuelo

lashing their faces then glistening lustfully
as they stole forbidden glances at her clean
legs dangling, kicking furtively at their sides.
Drenching her, breaking waves urge her return.


She could still taste the rice coffee on his lips
when he kissed her mouth and vowed his troth.
He left for a war, and could not come home,
cut down at some shore wading toward a hail
of sand and pebble, dying for God and country,
yet could not crawl back to live by his promise.


She must go back there, to lie on that shore
at sundown, drench herself with his tardy touch,
as waves break frenziedly on her breasts and
caress her gently with the ebbing tide, when
she goes home. Laughing, the waves said so,
as she felt them turn warm around her bare calf.



---Albert B. Casuga
04-09-12



Monday, April 9, 2012

SABADO DE GLORIA: THIS TOMB IS A WOMB






SABADO DE GLORIA: THIS TOMB IS A WOMB


"What misery to be afraid of death./  What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven."---Mary Oliver



He chafed at the two-and-a-half-hour service,
And at night yet: a vigil, the pastor called it.
Why a vigil? Who are we losing early sleep
Over? You should not have come to church


This evening with a sour heretic’s spleen.
You put the heathens to shame, his spouse
Now sounding like his shadow-self, would
Most certainly scold him if he dared protest.


Why this vigil? We have lived with this truth
For centuries now.  Why behave like we have
To prove that He prevailed over crucifixion
Unto death? That grave stone moved during


The centurion’s watch? Not even his twelve
Comrades could do that. This tomb is a womb.
What in the name of the saints did you say?
His wife would madly bellow. A womb tomb?


But he would sheepishly answer: Am poetic.
I mean all types of dying or death entombed,
But this was the true womb of life and living.
In this cave, all the world’s hideous hate died


So that it may become the womb of a Rock,
Of enduring love, against whose ramparts no
Malice, mayhem, nor vicious evil shall ever
Prevail. She said: they do rhyme, don’t they?






---Albert B. Casuga
04-08-13


This poem in the 8th in our poem-a-day celeberation of National Poetry Month this April.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

BE (WHERE YOU ARE)


BE (WHERE YOU ARE)


When you are sleeping, sleep./ Be where you are..../ Don’t wonder when/
the bulb died. Fix it./ Or tell someone else to.
--- Hannah Stephenson, “Moondust”, The Storialist



Or why dream at all? You will kick the flannels
off, thrash the sheets, strangle faultless pillows,
moan or giggle between snores or wheezing, or
perhaps whimper your saddest fare-thee-wells
(goodbye-cruel-world sobbing), or call a name
you caught across a crowded room, some such.
Beware the nightmare lurking as a wan wraith
of your most cherished dreams: they will skew
reel-like slowmo runs through verdant meadows
into frenzied train-chasing pleas for love’s sake.

Either way, dreaming a nightmare into a haven
of glorious lifetimes, a plenitude of joy and love,
remains the refuge of the fearful and defeated.
Be where you are: warm, asleep, under flannels.



---Albert B. Casuga
04-07 -12

This poem, an experiment in  marrying  elements of a sonnet and sweetelle (a la Alison Joseph and Luisa Igloria), is our seventh in April (celebrating National Poetry Month). Thanks to Ohio poet Hannah Stephenson for her poem "Moondust" which triggered this poem-a-day effort.

Friday, April 6, 2012

ANOTHER WORLD



ANOTHER WORLD

When things get bad, remind yourself, there is another world.---Luisa Igloria, “Retreat” Via Negativa*


1.
Where is the other world?
Why is it the other world?
Sounds like a spare tire,
doesn’t it? Don’t worry.
Blow your chances here,
and you will get another.
It is a quick visit anyway,
you would not regret it.
It is the ration store across
the abandoned churchyard.
You will even find an extra
heart there, when yours
turns callous and blind to
all that it was made for.


Was it for love? Don’t worry,
there’s an overstock of that
in the other world. That is
what is in that other world.



2.
Is that not what Good Friday
is all about? God took back
His son, and hoarded it there
in his unreachable warehouse,
beyond the magic of flowers
and the ardence of caress,
because our vouchers would
not guarantee enough supply
just as it always ran out here,
when kindness and courage
were all we needed to protect
the world we know would take
us when no one wants to pick
us up from where we have fallen.


Where we have fallen, where
we could no longer get up from,
why not have another world
instead, rest and be at peace at last?



---Albert B. Casuga
04-06-12




This poem is my response to Luisa Igloria's "Retreat" (another sweetelle) published in Dave Bonta's Via Negativa as part of the National Poetry Month celebration. See http://www.vianegativa.us/2012/04/retreat-2/

Thursday, April 5, 2012

WAITING FOR A SHADOW



WAITING FOR A SHADOW*


I watch the muted hue/ of a five-o-clock shadow dapple in the window light/ and marvel: what brings you back, persists, so often, despite? ---Luisa A. Igloria


Pain is a truant seeking for its origin,
it jumps off  walls like sundown shadows,
hackle-raising and intimate, seeking balm
where nothing is offered,  penitently quiet
as some persistent window-tapper pleading
to be let in, where there are no doors to open
nor window sills to lie vigil on waiting, hoping
to come back when there is no longer any home
to grow mellow in, nor a place to leave a threadbare
duffle bag in, stained, empty and won’t be filled again:
this shadow-self might be true only because of  his pain.


 

---Albert B. Casuga

 04-04-12


*A poem response to Luisa Igloria’s poem published in Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa which uses a new form called by its author Allison Joseph “sweetelle” (see VN for explanation). This is poem five in April to celebrate National Poetry Month.



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A LONG QUESTION




A LONG QUESTION



An old strand of caterpillar silk at the wood’s edge shimmers in the sun. A crow keeps saying something urgent in four syllables. ---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 04-03-12


 It must go back to more magical times,
 when the sun rises like a fiery blossom
 over the ridge, and a lone crow croaks
 its monotone: kah-kah-kah-kah! Could
 it be the one lingering note, a sad refrain
 of awe and reverence for the sun god
 cut down since to a constantly ho-hum
 yo-yo motion over ridges, lakes, or bays,
 it must now be invisible like the wild
 dandelion cut wantonly off manicured
 lawns, even its shimmer on gossamer
 silkworm strands glistening on twigs
 attracts longer glances than metaphors
 that have lost their lustre in the hands
 of some inept moulder of words, crystal
 jars that could have held those sunrays
 at a standstill and lit the dark hallways
 that needed to warm-over the frigid
 goodbyes of lovers who have loved and
 lost, but know that mornings are new
 days with new sunrises at the wood’s edge?

 The crow on the branch must know a more
 urgent omen, it cackles its warning quite
 like the staccato of a grumpy tetrameter,
 as if it were demanding an answer to its
 question: What if the sun does not rise again?
 Or another: When will the sun not rise again?




—Albert B. Casuga
 04-03-12



Out in time for the second sunrise, when the sun clears the near ridge and appears among the trees, an impossible blossom. ---Dave Bonta, The Morning Porch, 04-02-12



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AN ALLEGORY


AN ALLEGORY
 

…We dangle/ thoughts above ourselves/ like fishing lures to draw out/ a response and end up/ feeding our feelings. We want/ to be helpless to their strength.---Hannah Stephenson, “Strong Feelings”, The Storialist, 04-02-12

 

 Even that nutty rodent stops short
 Of its kamikaze threat, twirls, jumps,
 Lands on the feline foe twice its size,
 Snarls for all its worth, but the fancied
 Bully glides gracefully away, wagging
 Its dismissive tail: she does not do nuts,
 Besides, pipe down Squire, your guess
 Will choke you yet. How much thought
 Is required to burn this side of the woods?

 It took a rock-hard crock of a lie to kill
 A 100K in the Iraq War, no weapons
 Of mass destruction could kill that many
 In a cranky year; it should not take this
 Buck-teeth nut its fear to lay its throat
 For early-spring rending. Yet, it is grand
 To flex muscle where there is none
 To feel towering, herculean strength
 Ooze through grass-like veins awhile
 And fade away into a quivering branch
 With its purloined bud of cherry…

 Mayhaps, guessing still how dread
 Becomes a dream, becomes a reason
 For quartering all those Taliban, Syrian,
 Maguindanao, Kampuchean children,
 Old and injured beyond their time
 When strife that maims and murders
 Are still a monopoly of learned men
 Who play and sleep with napalm bombs,
 And stridently yakking presidents
 Who ask not what your country can
 Do for you, but ask what you can do

 To vaporize old women, old men, children
 And their poultry, too, and hope mankind
 Can also make a playground of the moon.


 Ah, how we think we can make our hearts
 Love, and suffer the wounds and tears
 That come after.
I think, therefore, I feel.
 I feel, therefore, I may be alive. Or happy.
 I think.


 The rodent on the twig stares at the cat
 waiting under the tree, and quakes. I think.

---Albert B. Casuga
 04-02-12
 

Monday, April 2, 2012

OLD WOMEN IN VACANT LOTS



OLD WOMEN IN VACANT LOTS


Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;/ The worlds revolve like ancient women/ Gathering fuel in vacant lots.---T. S. Eliot, “Preludes”, Collected Poems 1909-1935


1.
Debris around the empty schoolhouse
have been cleared, gathered into motley
piles neatly lined on where the road was
before that too crumbled with village
life; only the old women stayed longer
than any of the taut-jawed rescuers now
back in cities where Ishinomaki is just a
dot in the grids pressed upon the brittle
maps. The temblor and the tsunami
are still everything to them: raw feelings,
ceaseless nightmares of weeping men
picking up limp bodies of children dug
out of the rubble, still tightly clutching
their shredded books and broken crayon.


2.
Their gnarled fingers and weary faces
stick out like bookmarks at the last light
of sundown, clipped between pages of rags
flapping in the uncertain weather, while
they move in little circles like crayfish
clambering over what remains of the yard
that once teemed with laughing children;
they would stop to talk over the muffled
rumble of the excavators, and bend quickly
to glean more rubbish or gather briefly
to touch and bless a tear from a blouse or
a piece from a muddied shirt they would
gently put away in their bamboo baskets.


3.
Other times, other seasons, they would
be here picking up ripped twigs dried
on the banks of the river at the foot of the
hill, fuel for the vats of the sweetened
yams they would boil to regale the boys
and girls gathered around them at school
break, laughing as raucously as the wee
urchins, while wiping their caramelled
lips with shawls they would wrap their
heads with when they walk down the hill,
to wait for another daybreak of fuel
picking,  praying for a kinder season. Soon.




---Albert B. Casuga
01-04-12