29 October 2009

Multilingual poem by Albert B. Casuga

There are all kinds of variations to the saying that "we use German (or English) to talk to dogs, Italian to talk to lovers, French to talk to cooks (or soldiers), and Spanish to talk to God." For example, some old folks in the Philippines say that we use Tagalog to talk to maids, English to talk to foreigners, and Spanish to talk to God. While sayings of that sort today sound racist, they do point to a genuine theological problem: what language does God use to think (assuming that divine beings think in the way we understand the word)? The answer, of course, is that God thinks in all languages. The best way to reach God then is to write in as many languages as you know at the same time.

Albert B. Casuga's most recent poem, "Basura Days," takes the theme of Christianity as T. S. Eliot understood it and applies it to today's most universal phenomenon, namely, garbage (trash, junk, shit, or whatever you want to call it) and builds a modern parable taking off from the Biblical insight that whatever we do to the least of God's creations (animate or inanimate), we do to God.

Here's a taste:

Prophylactics and sanitary napkins, masticated fries vomited
With the arrant fish bones, newsprint-wrapped pet faeces,
Faded pictures of grandmere leering at grandpere glancing
At some tightly dungareed wench flaunting palpable haunches
Sans underpants that was last millennium’s acceptance of taste
If not coyness or even breeding in vaulted manors of delicadeza ---
Are picked up by the City Dump Meister on an antiseptic mission
To rid these fallen-leaves-strewn paseos of accidental memories,
Recuerdos de faltas pasadas, putrid waste of body functions
And memento mori gone past their memorial usefulness.

For more, turn to Casuga's blog.

1 comment:

  1. A theological rationale for multilingual literature, Dr. Cruz?

    It was a playful percolation of refuse images, then it turned pious, angry, and -- for old friends --- solicitous. Pray that I have not elevated garbage to a status of Eucharistic surrogacy.

    We might yet find a good poetic excuse for colonization. Their languages for our Weltanschauung --- fair exchange?

    It occurs to me at this point that multilingual literature could be an antidote to an inchoate Phil Lit.