It is a poet's constant dread. The poem will be stillborn. So one plays for time. Wait for the surprise that creation is. One recalls the decapitated Orpheus nailed on the lyre, singing still. There must be a song arrested in his throat. The poet plays for time, a zeit schinden. Sometimes, the poem dies in the waiting.
If playing for time is idleness regained,
a game of dunking Orpheus’ head
in a pot of boiling water would indeed
buy us the song screaming to drown
silences that are midwives to poems.
Did not the head nailed to the lyre
sing still of the beauty that was Greece?
What does it matter that limbs are shorn
from limbs in prurient violence?
A paean in darkened rooms is still pain
that seeks its balm in threnodies
muted now as dirges for the final quiver
of the song arrested in his throat,
a stillborn sigh that could have been
the dying gurgle of our descending
into a sandbox of absent games
and players gone and quietness fallen.
FABIANNE GEISMAR, 15
Shot dead for stealing mirrors.
---Headline, The Toronto Star, Catastrophe in Haiti, Jan 20, 2009, Pg. 19
While the temblor's carrion burn
in common graves unnamed,
you have a name to go by, and
will have confreres wail to mourn
your falling on brittle rubble,
mirror clutched as you would a rag doll
if you had a more innocent childhood,
if you even were a lass in pigtails
or braids or ribbons or princess veils,
and did not have to scrounge for food
or even think that a purloined mirror
is a prize too precious to die for.
O, Fabianne, would you have seen
a flushed reflection of the fairest face
this wounded city has haplessly hidden
in unforgiving debris of shattered grace?
Or would you have recoiled from scars
on scars that faces become inured to
seen through cracks of shattered mirrors?
ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, currently lives in Canada where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas), he taught English and Literature at the De La Salle University and San Beda College.
Casuga was a 1972 Fellow at the Silliman Writer's Workshop in Dumaguete, Philippines. He won the national Philippine Parnaso Poetry Contest in the 70s; First Prizes in the Mississauga-Canada Library Systems Literary Contests in 1990 (for Fiction), 1996 (for Poetry), and 1998 (for Poetry). His works were published in the Philippines Free Press, Graphic Weekly Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine (Maryland), Philippine Writing (edited by the late NVM Gonzalez), A Habit of Shores (UP Press, ed. Gemino H. Abad), among many others. He publishes a literary blog at http://ambitsgambit.blogspot.com.
Other Books by Albert B. Casuga: Summer Suns (short story collection with Cirilo Bautista), Narra Poems and Others (poetry collection, Manila), Still Points (poetry collection, Manila), In A Sparrow’s Time (poetry collection, Canada) , Songs for My Children (poetry collection, Canada), The Aesthetics of Literature (Literary Theory and Criticism, De La Salle University, Manila), Man in Search of Meaning: Literature (Humanities Series, Asia Foundation and De La Salle University, Manila), Man and His Literary Past: The Classical Tradition (Humanities Series, Asia Foundation and De La Salle University, Manila ), and A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems (UST Press, Manila, 2009) .