Selected Works, Volume One On Sale
Jerry Prager, author of Legends of the Morgeti vol 1 &2 has published selections of poetry and prose from three of his previously published books, his blog The Well Versed Heart and unpublished works. On Sale at Macondo Books, the Bookshelf, in Guelph and the Eden Mills Writers Fest.
D'Etre Raisins

No sour grapes these,

rather the withered sweetness
of seasons lengthened
to aged fruition
chewed introspectively.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Well Being

The light fractures the room, fissures
the spindles of chairs. Long shadows reach
for the back of the cafe and lay
window-prism rainbows across hardwood floors.

Autumn falls winter in the steam and
the frost glare of the front store glass
as the waitress wipes the milk and
honey shelf, dusting sugar motes
into the air.

Late afternoon turns
mid-November evening down the street where
the red maple holds rust leaves in abeyance
while the lamp post Christmas snowflake
glimmers decorative before a farther off chimney,
smoke blown horizontal by north winds streaming
steady over roof tops.

My feet slowly warm
from a day spent re-pointing stone, the scents
of lime and mortar and earth-must mingle
with antijitos and coffee and the dirty wool
of my pullover and the spices that drift
over the kitchen divider.

The work week
is over, hours diminished, pay dropping
to the cold weather, to ice and rain and
snow from sun-hot Monday to frigid Friday,
tarped-over into a kerosene summer.

Money already banked onto my bills, I have cash
in my pocket and crafted hours of rock-hewn
wall-set satisfyingly behind me.

The clatter of dishes accentuates the chatter
from tables, the waitress thanking customers
as they go, while the stereo and a whistler
at the cash sound the coming of dusk.

The sun slips behind Victorian brick.
The heat-fogged windows begin to glow
with well-being.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


My seventy-five year old mother
has been a psychiatric experiment
since 1958, when she, suffering
post-partum depression
was first diagnosed as schizophrenic
and subjected to forty insulin-induced comas
that ended only when my father insisted
they release her from the horror-room
where she and seventeen other women
were being "treated" en masse by
the best psychiatry Stalinist Russia
had to offer, transported to Canada
at the same time that the CIA
conducted their infamous
LSD experiments on patients in Montreal.

Released in time to see my sister
into kindergarten, they put her on Mellaril
which left her emotionally quieted
for the next fifty years, minus
the seven months my father went into
alcohol rehab in the 1970's and
the nuns at St. Joseph's Al-Anon
program in North Bay told her she
didn't need the drugs and so
she stopped taking them until
my father fell off the wagon
and the worry drove her
through stresses suppressed since '58.

Anger and frustration again became madness
and so she went back into the void where she
remained until 2005 when they stopped making
Mellaril. Put on Respiradol, she went into
psychotropic zones so intense she ended
up trying to strangle a nurse
at the local hospital where she had just
been honoured for 25 years of volunteer service.

Sent to the new mental "health" centre
in North Bay she was re-diagnosed as bi-polar
because the shrink there believed
post-partum depression is a symptom
of bi-polarity, and for the next four months
she ranged through Respiradol hallucinations
among the cellars and attics of her long-lost
emotions. And now, two years later, my sister,
who has born the brunt of living in a house
and in a town with our half-lunatic mother, assures me
that the psychiatrist from Toronto who has been
working with Mum has devoted her life
to seniors but I want to know where
the scientific method went,
where is the control in my mother's pharmacy ?
Not once has anyone since the nuns
thought of trying to see what she's like
without drugs. I will not say
that this new doctor is not kind or caring,
only that science without a control
is not science. Where is my mother
unaltered, unattenuated, undistorted ?

She is at the mercy of drug dealers,
of a corporate culture that feeds off
the Canadian health-care system.
To them she is a "consumer" on whom they practice
their dark arts in the shadows of the hearts
and minds of well-meaning people who work in
an industry where even less
in known about the human psyche than
Freud discovered a century ago.

Part-times lucid and other times rambling
through drug-burdened incoherences,
my mother's soul has been broken open,
poked and prodded and medicated
as they shuffle her towards oblivion.
Only her spirit remains indomitable, refined in
the fires of their tortures. And I, ineffectual
against their machinations, rage and am
accused by those who love me of being too angry,
my fury erupting at times
in blazes like madness and I AM
too angry at times,
but my rage is fueled
by what they have done
and by what they keep doing
to my mother
and in the fault lines
of my childhood
I still don't know
how to form
these pieces
into a sledge
to smash my way
into the darkness
where they
keep my family,
where the demonic power
that lies in the heart
of false science
feeds on the misery
of millions.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Moflower Mornings

I give you these words, to roll all you are to me
And package it for your forty-second year of
Striding, beetling, dancing and otherwise
Making your way across the landscapes of
Your lives: student, mother, friend, loner, lover,
Dog owner, sister, daughter, grandchild, niece,
Wild creature of urban nights, companion
Of glorious days where nature strays the line between
Humans and creation, house-mate with a book,
Mistress of a smouldering immodesty,
Yearning sacred-hearted for simplicities
Amidst shadows and darkness spinning
Towards the sun or staggering after-hours
Towards dawn with a determined intensity
And a glazed look of satiated pleasure;
Listener and sensible shoulder to
A handful of us and to strangers,
Drumming evenings into spoken words
That be-speak beat sorrows
With uncommon care,
Bitter, sweet and salty on your tongue,
Tasting meaning in yourself and in others.

So, this is for you, as you make your way
Through this time and place by intuition and by reflex,
Your skin attuned to the rhythms
Of estuary rivers, a home within a home within
A corner of this Age
Warmed by mercies and blessings
Streaming through the days we share.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Canadastan Support

More soldiers die in Afghanistan
and we are told it is our duty
to support our troops because
they are willing to die to help Afghanis
and I believe that is why the common soldiers
are there, for it is not so much
they who wield the weapons as it is
those who command them, those who create policy
whose aims I do not trust.

What the Minister of Defense
wants from Canadians
is an adherence
to political, economic
and ideological idolatries
I do not share: their public policy
masks a privateering imperialism,
and conceals caves of unholy alliances,

false reformers parading their faith
behind patriotic proclamations
in unison with Bush League bunglers
and Babylonian Whore mongers:
survivors of WWII anti-fascist campaigns
in Europe where Canadian
soldiers died by the tens of thousands

while North American profiteers and
black and brown shirt collaborators
were left free to grow strong and prosper
until the day they finally seized power through
the breaking of chads and the tampering
of electronics and through lie upon lie
still emanating from the Terror war-room
in Washington.

This nation's
right wing liberals and conservatives
benefit from the sustained hostilities
that fill the coffers of
America International Incorporated and
its subsidiary principalities and powers
and despite all that, I accept the belief of soldiers
and their families that they give their lives
and loved ones in the cause of Afghanis.

As for Minister MacKay and his generals
their words are deceptions
and the utterances of the Prime Minister
are a sulfurous stench.


The Board resigned one night;
the next day the Church shut
down the youth night-shelter,
home of Change Now in
Norfolk United.

They fired the staff
without explanation,
giving birth
to a bestiary of rumours
about what sins or crimes
the staff might or might not
have committed
to warrant their fate,
serpentine speculations that made
their way through the downtown core

as the post-mortem proceeded to
the process which led
to the youth-in-crisis operation
reopening soon under the auspices
of all the proper authorities
and with the involvement of the kids.

The old staff have been told
they need not apply,
a position taken
without stated cause,
without public disclosure of
their presumed failings
or faults,
without mercy or justice
and without a protest
by the co-opted teens whose
cause the workers once defended
against all comers.

And still no one
will say what sin or crime
the old staff committed or omitted:
it's as if they have been condemned
by conspiracy, banished by a cabal;
by those who prefer the sounds
of their mutual self-congratulations
to the cadences of grace.

And the lesson of the day
for congregated Guelph
is how to sacrifice
to institutional expediency
while doing good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Elaine Campbell 1925-2007

"There is a golden summer
waiting for you,
spinning a dream by sunset
til it comes true."

Gone now the gift card notes in verse,
the long ago birth on the steps
of the morgue in the Dome, the
Northern Ontario mining town child
grown to lose her first lover
to the War as she guided bombers
onto airfields of New Brunswick,

gone now the forger of peace in the aftermath
when the survivors sought to build
a nation and a world that would last,
the friend, the stalwart of the
National Ballet Board in the days
the company stormed international dance
with an esprit de corps
sprung from the depths
of post war convictions like hers.

She strove for the mind of God
with a will of steel and a kind word
waging peace in a broken world with a gentle
intensity that diminished the darkness
as nothing more than shadows
of clouded thoughts
contrasted with Divine Light.

The sister, the mother, the mother-in-law
to me, whose kindness outlasted my marriage,
the grandmother of my son, her only grandchild,
whose place in her heart was an eternal spring,

her beloved husband gone a few years ago now,
like the strains of loss on the Grand Piano
in their home edging the ravine that began as
a ravaged urban hollow returned to the wild,
bordered by gardens and music and laughter,
a quiet constancy wafting with the scents
from the overlooking kitchen.

Prince Edward Island's
golden suns and deep red earth
became theirs when the keys
to a farm home and the summer joy
of their children's youth
were hung for them by a grateful province;
the undaunted airs of a musical
staged year after year
as the core of a small island's economy,
woven beyond the commercial hawking
of Lucy Maud's orphan into
dreams of an increasingly fragile
post-war visionary,
who died as she lived
spinning hope into sunsets
to the airs of that unsilenced Grand,
melodies strung with now unsung verses
for the passion that was theirs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Twilight of the Lake

Lake Ontario stretches from Sandbanks
towards the distant smog of the Golden Horseshoe
but here on the edge of the dunes
the half dead lake survives
in traces of its former magnificence,
a wilderness once untamed, unbroken,
unbattered, an inland sea of bounty
systematically pillaged and poisoned
by the bacterial spread of humanity;

the water is surprisingly clear and
the toxic sources
of the great lake's injuries
are a hundred miles away
lost in the green shore
that fades into the loom
of endless city
and surburban drudge
that marks the north shore
of Ontario turning
towards Hamilton's unseen steel mills
and the pesticide realms of
Niagara's wine country,
heat rippling horizon mirages
like promises;

and although the lake falls into
the slip stream of the St. Lawrence
around the thrust of Prince Edward County
behind us,

and thus, undoubtedly, the currents
that wash this sand
carry the effluent
of the multi-millions
who foul these extraordinary waters
past this
blazing beach
on this summer day
as on all days

the land retains its pastoral realms
and its birders' paradises, hidden away
in coves and bays along the private shore,
where - inland - a new wine industry is taking hold
and where its toxins will eventually
lay waste to the herons and hawks,
the waterfowl and the red wings,

and yet for now, the river that cuts the beach
and turns combers' feet inland
remains a living path to nearby East Lake:

for this vast sea of fresh water
can still shake off the degradations
of human generations,
still offer up its ancient glories,
still allow glimpses
of its power, its vitality,
it's welcoming shallows
cooled by undercurrents
from its depths;

and you and I
touristing about on our first holiday
in five years,
partially protected
from the deadly sun
and the dying waters
are revitalized by the age-old ways of
the watersheds spilling their
remaining life
into the lake, and

you and I, almost alone on the beach
(or so we are allowed to feel as the weekend
hordes disperse back to the small towns and cities
from whence they came) swim and wade
neck-deep along its' sandbars;
I growl and pursue your legs
as we belly our way back to the shore
like amphibious returnees to the land,
sand in our suits, and the wonder
of the lake in the eyes of
the countless races that
make up the nation,
and those of its visitors,
the tongues of distant places
quietly alone together
as we pass the lingering
among their folding chairs
and coolers and umbrellas:
the bright colours of beach fashion are
surreal in the glaze-work of setting sun.

I am like the caretaker
of a grand estate that has fallen into ruins,
I find comfort in the little pleasures
experienced by those who travel a long
way to find the remnants of
an earlier age, I horde
their happiness against darker days,
as I horde your langour
for the night and the fire
we will discretely start
seperated by cedars and dunes
from the tents and caravans of those
who imagine themselves - with each other's
consent - as alone with their loved
ones in the twilight of the lake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Through the Bottom of A Wine Glass

Rather then speak my random desires for passing beauty
as if every woman was a sun setting across a lake or a flash
of wonder inspiring unchecked compulsions
I will commit more of myself to the page,
hold my words for the printed phrase, write my depraves
instead of spontaneously confessing my sensualist impressions,
and so temper my less than sober declarations.

For desire needs neither youth nor age to make
itself known, and urge needs neither encouragement
nor excuse to surge beyond where the unspoken
lingers. For if the greatest of lusts
is the yearning for sanctity, then the next greatest
burns only a little less complexly.

I don't hold it against me, for what man can carry
the sacred and the profane to their conclusions
without making himself ridiculous?

The knee bent in prayer
rises thigh-wise to the ways of
passion unbound, the parting of
appropriate constraint opens the lips of
pleasure, the groin feels the belly hungry thrust
to the breast where the heart races
to the pulse of neck and nape
filled with throaty exultations
that become psalms or the guttural utterances
of sweat and blood and spirit.

The imagined and the possible
are contoured by muscle and flesh,
by taste and holding and by
the rhythmic entering of inner urgency:
goodness and sweetness become salty from
refusing to speak because wisdom has had enough
and because the love that infuses intermingled senses
knows where defilement lurks and how sublimation
traces the sear of beauty and longing
to its source.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

20 Year Old Honeymoon White Pants

I don't remember when I decided to work in my white, honeymoon pants
but it was summer, hot; and the thought of wearing a white shirt with white pants
seemed suitable for landscaping, but today, my pants tore on the job,
and throughout the day ripped down from my thigh like a leg-wound opening
to below my knee.
So I wear them with that one leg rolled up, the slit in the open thigh parting each time I kneel, causing me to remember that I had owned them for 20 years.
Last week, we would have been married two decades, the last ten years of which we lived apart, divorced. Last week's forgotten anniversary was remembered today, when the pants tore, when I remembered where they had come from.

As I kneel and rise I make the tear worse throughout the day.
And as I do, the loss that my ex-wife and I still share lingers.
She and I speak frequently but haven't yet spoken of that forgotten anniversary, and nor did she remind me of it at the time, she, who never forgets.

My mind negotiates its way to our 17 - nearly 18 - year old son who is
mourning a love withdrawn by a woman in his own life.

I take the scissors to my honeymoon pants and cut shorts out of them.

Tomorrow I will wear them while digging post-holes by hand,
and my knees will remember white linen lost to circumstance
while my bare thighs glisten in the humidex,
soil becoming dirt in the cool earth touched
as I lie with my ear to the garden bed.

My down-stretched hand scoops the ground within,
and I pull up clenched sand,
surrogate beaches walked newly wed twenty years ago
while pelicans flew sentinental over jetties
as we dreamed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

After the Deluge I Sing

As the heat deepens and the dews and mists
of the cool of the night are
vapourized into humidity
they mix - during the long simmer of the day
with emission particles and with dust
- to create a roux that
thickens the air into a toxic stew
stirred by breezes
and the brewing of thunderstorms.

The sky cracks and fragments
in cacophony and torrential pour
as red-eyed lightning rampages
and the Earth rebels against the outrages
of distempered time.

Only in the de-ionized aftermath
of the tempest does nature
reduce misbegotten man and
his defilements:
air-molecule vitalities
regenerate us
cell by cell;
the possibilities
of living well
on a planet no longer
holding its breath
allow each
inhalation and exhalation
to bring wonder into being.

Reminders of nuance
become as immediate as
fragrances sensed,
ways forward revealing
in counterpoint.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Not Dead Yet

Mortality lingers in the accumulating aches
of week long labour,
the left shoulder stiffens and the knees
accommodate begrudgingly,
and the sun baked pate slips out of time
into a two lane stupour that
allows comings and goings as the mind shifts gears
with the sudden memory
of water and blood sugar and rejuvenation.

And I know full well that I am a relatively easy-paced self
free from Third World
wage slavery and earlier era employer indifference,
allowed to care whether
I live or die on any given day, but I'm there anyway,
on the continuum of
fardel-bearing sweating and grunting under a weary life
enlivened by the joys
of being, the pleasure of the plate and the singing cells
of caress and kiss and
linger and the wiser growing realizations that impetuosity's
consequences can be
tamed or left wild, like an English Garden, an Eden of knowing
and wonder run riot,
stilled by reflection and the body's strength remaining,
the proof in the aches,
a measurement of existence stretched to the limits
then breezed cool
in the heat of a hard day:
the utter gladness of rest and the sensation
of vigour's return.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heresy's Wordsmiths

In the heresies of daily reflections recorded
the word turns to note the way the mind
dissociates from custom, and plays infidel
while casting bread upon waters,
the quick tongue and the casual glance
and the falling light
of the skin sweet breath held in camera sight
beckon, like temptation understood,

for all paths are as narrow as the foot takes
to cross and uncross the sacred and the profane,
the desire and the yearning pale before the contention
of the final lust, piety insistent, denied,
refuted, held off, while the possibility of sense,
hair and voice and taste and smell and feeling
conspire to stray the line where gray shadow
merges with dark urge and cannot comprehend
the way the light slips cracks to find
the soul untangling from spirit
like bodies caught undressing
in a half open door by
a lover betrayed,
knowing too much
to do anything else
but remain the truth
when the words cannot even begin
to say what became of the life
we meant to live before we turned away.

In the blood and the loins and the lips
and the fire in the belly and
in the flash of freed thought,
new felt certainties
and perplexed nuances conceive
the heresy of experience
while debating innocence
with the willing and
the unwilling alike.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Drowned Worms

Like dropped noodles the drowned worms
lie elongated, dying on the tar
of the Mariner's Cove mini-golf parking lot.
The still-living undulate in search of soil
nowhere within reach, the night's rain floods
having carried them yards away from the land
from whence they came.
By day's end they will be scavenged by gulls and
crackles and crows. The endless tunneling and
displacing of earth through the tubes
of their bodies is over. The asphalt is ungiving,
indifferent to their last burrowing instincts.

And even if they could get
to the mini-putt course,
the holes are plastic lined,
impenetrable, and the synthetic sod
is glued to the concrete fairways.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Dinosaur Prints

Twenty tonnes of Barrie cubestone,
limestone blocks for wall building,
for retaining the hillside above a pond,
dumped on the drive,
several hundred pounds or so each
carted across the lawn on a two wheeled
tree carrier after our smaller ones blew their
tires off their axles on their way
down the grass grade to the swath cut from
the slope, hand mauled and grappled and iron
bar jimmied and wrangled into place,
three of us, for two days in the sun and
the growing black fly clouds that traveled
with each of us like the particulates
of our brain fields until the breeze
wrested them free.

In the footprint of the landscaped
property the aggregate impact
of the collected materials nags at me:
the stone, the gravel, the screenings,
the soil, the sod, all carted in
from elsewhere, all once part of the land, now
deconstructed escarpments, fields denuded
of soil, moraines extracted for gravel:
the full list trucked and delivered by
dinosaur technology and fossil fuels,
tiny brained, great big footed prints
creating order, defining a few hundred
feet of impression, reconfiguring a yard to
make statements amidst the banalities of suburbia
or the more pleasant pastorals of the monied classes.

And for me, the making of a living by
the crafts of re-arranging
disarticulated Earth,
re-articulating fragments of ancient beauty
for an hourly wage
and growing doubts.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Leap

My room is now half-empty,
my books are boxed in the basement,
my desk has been dismantled
to get it down the final flight,
my borrowed typewriter has been returned.
There are spider webs in the corners,
blue-gray bug bodies in my window sills.
All the artifacts of my three and a half years
have been divided - some
thrown out - the rest downstairs;
I'm dislocating myself.

It's not just another move;
not just a change of address,
I'm not even sure where I'm going.

Her letters lie on my side table,
the last one two weeks old,
the last call six weeks earlier,
my last plan the one I'm following.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Years Lost to the Locusts

Most of my life has been devoured
as if by a plague of locusts. Torn
out of childhood by the sins of my father
and those his father,down
to the seventh generation I have been
swarmed. The locusts that fed on my soul
manifested themselves as psycho-sexual abuse.
I was driven into a frenzy of constant criticism.
I became self-deceptive: I came to believe
that however much others might harm me
I was the true cause of of my own abuse, and
I made sure that it was true: I destroyed every
good thing that came my way. I collaborated with
the darkness that fed on me. I filled with
self-loathing and passed judgment
on everyone else. And yet,
like a fisher of demons my nets overflowed
with the judgments of others against me.

It was still easier to be holier than others,
but when I was alone, I was never holy enough.
Well versed in my own weaknesses
I could sense most people's pain quite easily,
but cruelty came to my tongue even more easily.

It may have been my growing uneasiness
over how easy it was to be unkind to my own son,
that finally proved to me how bankrupt I was.

I had believed for so long
that God had indulged Himself at my expense,
that He had inflicted the sins of my father's house
on me when I had done nothing to deserve it.
But the harms I did to others, the unkindness
I'd shown to my own son, could not be blamed
on anyone but me. I had been collaborating
with my own darkness for so long,
I could barely tell where the shadow of my own sins ended
and where the darkness of Malice began.

But I had been to Golgotha before,
I knew that the cross we were meant to bear
is the paralysis of will that comes when we realize
that we can neither do the good we mean to do, nor
can we not cause the harm we'd rather not cause.
That was the spike of the Law on which I knew
I had to impale my self-will,
so I did:
hideous visions arose
to frighten me off that spike.

I was swarmed by malice,
but I held myself to that death, knowing
it was a battle I could lose
only if grace did not exist.

I was swept through madness and
spiritual war zones.
My self-will died over and over
and each time I was
with a little less self-will.

And I found
I could separate my shadow from the darkness,
I found myself alone in a river
called the Perpetual Sabbath.
The locusts had gathered on its banks.
There was no work - no level of goodness
I needed to achieve in order to remain in that river.
It was my birthright,
like my love for my father and my son,
it had been there all along, and yet
even as I realized that, the locusts
began filling the river, crawling over
the drowning corpses of their own kind to reach me,
but the river was deepening, and I realized
that my house was now free from the sins of its fathers.

As that knowledge eroded the sand on which I stood
I surrendered my need to hold God accountable
and I lost my footing. As the locusts reached for me
I submerged and was carried downstream.

When I resurfaced, they were gone.
I had come into sanctuary - for good.

And though it has not happened yet,
I know that someday
everything I lost to the locusts
will be restored.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Anatomy of a Living

The electromagnetic crane,
cascading steel,
dangling plate and pipe and
torch cut angle,

welded for an instant
in the arc of salvaging,

held in the iron poise
of critical timing,
temporary art

released in a shower
of fragments
into the sharp cacophony
of heaping junk.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mucking Out

Horse stalls, pig sties and the cow pen
are finally clean after the neglect
that came with haying
and the onslaught of winter.

Thirty shovels fill a three foot long,
two foot deep, steel bin hung on a track
from a ceiling beam; a train pulled by me,
spilling straw and manure, load after load,
in and out to the dung heap.

The yard, steaming in the cold
is packed with freezing, waist high muck ranges
up which I drag the ton heavy bin,
struggling to find a low enough spot to dump it.

The wheels derail from the effort,
cast-iron arms crack me in the skull,
I stumble dazed in sub-zero disgust on my knees
down fecal ranges trying not to pass out,
not quite but almost ready to curse God and die,
venting my spleen instead onto the ice-hard
ooze pool.

I stagger back up and curse the derailed bin
back onto the track and back into the barn
while the mare studies me from her stall.

A cow along the bin path, belligerent at being disturbed,
kicks up its hooves, missing my face,
crashing into a lowing relation lying
in front of the gates over which
I must negotiate passage,
triggering another barrage of my spleen.

Only the boar's sty remains: Rudy.
Rudy likes me - some days; other days
he gnaws at the shaft of the shovel,
bloodshot eyeing me, tusks like nicotine.

Today, affectionate to neither me
nor to his mate of the week, I have to buy him off
with extra feed, and muck out only what he lets me,
my anger checked; his, in danger of venting.

Alone again outside on the settling mass,
the last load upturned, cold wind and
escarpment clouds compose dusk from the blue.

Purged of loathing, my breath falls like snow
on the pungent peaks at my feet.

I imagined villages nestled along the manure ridges,
tiny people who watch the coming of the night,
the snow of my breath falling among them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Short Poems

Having just met,
and still giddy with the hope of it,
we came upon white petals afloat on the dark grass
of a twilit lawn:

trespassing to waltz among them,
pools of street lamp behind and before us,
our first touch was to the shimmer of Hyacinths.

When the Birch Were GoldenIn the wax-melted cranium
of the candle Sage
who bookends
my collection of plays,
the rose you gave me
that Indian Summer ago,
though covered in dust
is still faintly fragrant.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wards of Purgatory

The dead of the clans are mute on the streets of the Ward
where they died and go unremembered except in whispers.
The cracks they've created between past and present have become
the haunts they use to make their forays among the descendants
of those who killed them, but shorn of history, deprived of
justice, and made even more insubstantial because their own
kin seldom speak for them, they waste, torn by time in passing.

And where the Ward once thrived, vital with neighbours of
Calabrian descent side by each with Slavs, and Jews and Irish
and blacks, the crack dealers now house themselves where those families
came of age. And new homes full of new lives established within
the old walls built by those unrelated to the past, still cannot escape
the ghost town feel of the streets. Mistrust gutters along
the curb sides and huddles in shadows. The old homes crumble for some
were never well built, but rather rose to shelter extending lines
that made their gradual way out of the Ward altogether,
leaving only the dead and the shambles behind.

Still owned by the heirs of cobblers and grocers and bakers and
workmen and housewives and seamstresses and hair stylists and
grill cooks and mechanics made good, and by mobsters, the homes have
lost their way, for the ghosts of those murdered in time and
forgotten by choice haunt the new poverty and coats
the neighbourhood like decay.

But the truth won't be told because those who could tell it
refuse to acknowledge it, instead they protest that those who
do defend the dead tell lies and half truths, for they would rather
live among their new new neighbours like pillars, only their pedestals
are sand and their mortar is dust. Their 'Sunday best' are rags of veneer,
their place in society was achieved through vendetta and is
sustained by misery.

Their businesses
clean monies made by those who deal
weapons for drugs and who breed despair amongst the poorest
of the world; they breed the need for petty theft, they breed
prostitutes and death. But the dead remember, for they are purgatorial,
witnesses to the hypocrisy of the living, and they will not
forget, and they cannot entirely fade, for they are damned
to the state they're in by the silence of their enemies
and by that of their loved ones. They must await the End for rest,
for they were not innocent in life either. They will not be
redeemed before the End, and never by silent prayer, unless
there are vigils held in their cause
and their names are read in the streets
and the causes of their deaths are recounted
by priests throughout St Patrick's Ward.
Only then might they rest.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sea Slugs

One lies before Paul and Pat and me on the lee shore,
a giant slug washed up on the beach, a brain-sized,
liver-shaped lump, gray and black-veined, glistening dry,
not yet baked, secreting mauve fluid onto Shell Island Shards.

A second swims up with a muscular grace angelic
from the depths like a manta ray flying up the rising floor
to beach beside the first as if to share its fate.

With a forked stick I rescue the first and
restore it to the lee waters; it revives.
The second throbs on the beach.
Set again in the current it re-asserts its will
and beaches again. The first is vanishing below.
Rescued a second time the second seems to realize
its change in fortune; yet stretching its wings
from its lump of a body it glides off the other way,
refusing to provide me with a symbol of romantic re-union,
ungrateful blob that it is.

Paul and Pat board, he to the tiller, she to the lanyards.
Shouldering the bow off the beach I inch the keel
out of the sand. Staining to catch the current,
I draw myself from the chest high surf,
from just-cleared rudder depths.
My legs and arms and back surge with uncommon prowess as
I draw myself onboard, a hero in my own eyes again, despite
the slug that arises to watch us go,
mocking me with its lumpy realism.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stand Upon the Waters

See water in your lucid eye;
wonder at its nature,
know its goodness;
taste its clarity of purpose

this life uttering substance
of extraordinary experience,

not even light commands
imagination the way water does,
though light seems it's lover,
indivisible in the ways it makes water visible.

Remember the seasons of water's shape-shifting from
liquid to crystal to vapour in the turn of the temperature,

recall the summers submerged in lakes and rivers and pools and
ponds and puddles, recall the magic of snow and
frost geometries.

Remain aware of it in every cell and other being.
Understand how there can be no price that will ever justify
its commodification, no rationalization that will sanctify
its being bought and sold like souls, nothing that can glorify
the enslavement of the planet's cytoplasm so buyers and sellers
can herd life to market.

Stand upon the waters and we will walk
where humanity has never before been., "let slip the dogs of" peace.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Code of Creative Ethics

Since I have been playing around with philosophical ideas and forms of late I attempted to create a code of ethics for artists. I was challenged by Peter J Slack an engineer/musician/friend who argued that professionally he has to conform to an Engineer's Code of Ethics and artists should do the same. So here is my first attempt. The form is my own.

Code of Creative Ethics
In a creative universe experienced by individuals
through the common and uncommon senses there is
an objective experience that is relatively common to all.

Experiences are defined as 'relative' based on the health and
attunement of an individual's senses, as well as on their
predilections and the cultural norms to which they were/are subjected.

The expression of an individual's understanding of
their sensory experiences are thus subjectively their own,
and they are free to express their understandings in whatever
medium or means they see fit.

An artist is therefore by definition an individual.

Notwithstanding personal freedoms, subjective expressions that effect
other individuals or groups of individuals do not come with a license to violate the established rights and freedoms of others.

Artists must therefor be governed by the principles of fair practices,
co-operate for the purposes of addressing common causes and should support
the rights of all artists to be recognized for individual initiatives
via copyright protection, as well as the right of artists to be acknowledged
as foundational, essential or successive to someone else copyrights.

An individual is necessarily free to waive their own copyrights
whenever they desire, whether for reasons known only to themselves,
as an act of good will, or as an act of indifference.

No artist can be forced to surrender their legitimate
claims to a created work.

Within the context of the recognized rights of others,
all artists are free to learn whatever they can
about whatever they desire in order to explore
their own creativity in whatever way they want.

They are free to teach or not teach what they learn,
they are free to teach whoever they want to teach
or not teach whoever they don't want to teach.

Artists are free to work with whoever wants to work
with them, and they are free to work alone.

They are free to organize, associate or otherwise create
with whoever wants to do the same with them.
They are not licensed to organize, associate or otherwise
create harm for whoever they might want to harm, using definitions
of harm dictated by libel and defamation laws, except to the degree
that those definitions become unduly broad.

The responsibility of all artists is therefor to defend
their own freedom of expression without believing
they have a license to deny anyone else that same freedom.

The responsibility of all artists to one another is to preserve
freedom of expression from those who seek to license it.

The responsibilities of artists to the rest of the world
are honest expression,honest dealing and the defense of
the freedoms enjoyed by all individuals in a creative universe.

Artists are free to go to hell, and back, or not.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Two Easter Poems

Peter Cottontail from Golgotha

Easter Bunny footprints in white flour
trail from the front door and up the stairs to his room,
its paws pressed against the armchair
where Easter mommy had earlier
placed the basket of eggs and gifts,
the sleeping boy oblivious
to everything but the resurrection
of his annual dream.

Into the Sanctuary
September 1996
I am come again into the sanctuary where I played Jesus
in The Last Supper last Easter. I am come on the knees
of my strength, no false messiah, no spirit-gummed beard
nor long-wigged visions concealing the man separated from
his wife for over a year who finally slept with a woman
and still regarded it as adultery, regarded it that way during
the liturgical play, since it occurred only the night before.

I am come again into the sanctuary where I played Christ
as Judas betrayed the God I performed to a transfixed
congregation - moved by the Spirit to understand my
betrayal, transubstantiating my grief into that of Jesus.

I am come again into the sanctuary where I came
the day before my wife threw me out of the house
more than a year before I played Christ,
come then as I did as a reporter covering the funeral
of a dead musician whom I did not know. I spent that day
covering the story of his death from the funeral service
to the rock bar wake and home to her wrath.
The year and a quarter before those events was
separated by the gulf between faith and fidelity.

January 1997
I am come again into the sanctuary two full years since
that first funeral, here for yet another burial,
while on this day's tomorrow
a judge will pronounce our marriage over in
thirty days from the hour of his edict. I am come again
into the sanctuary in love with another woman,
one who shields herself from her hopes of me
in the company of a man she does not love.
And in this second funeral, as in the first, the man
I have come to honour, is a man much loved,
but long suffering with disease, triumphant in character
and heroic in the eyes of his wife and son.

May 1997
I am come again into this sanctuary four months
after that second funeral,
all pretense of new romance in ruins,
the dawn of my soul imminent,
the ancient stone of the old church
radiant with generations of liturgical birth,
death, marriage and baptismal blessings
and lives lived with degrees of decency
I can only imagine.

I am come again to sanctuary.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Or Not

When the seas rise and the trees die and
the fields turn to dust and blow through
the millions who will have been displaced
from home and nation, the sowing of wanton 'need'
will turn in that season to reaping.

The strong will seize what they can;
the weak will unite to
make themselves stronger
and blood will soak the dying world,

children will perish;
elders will stumble into grief until death,
and those who would otherwise celebrate
their own plenty will remember prophecies and
warnings ignored as they stagger from heartache to
self-defense and murder.

Those whose denials and refusals to act
while there was still time to create hope
will topple into insanity.

Survivors will not remember why
they are to blame
or how the horror came.

Reduced to instincts
and necessities,

the darkness that
blinded humanity
will no longer cast
shadows of self-satisfaction.

The remnant will sense the light
and still not understand it.

They will falter
and we will be forgotten.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Overlooking the Nottawasaga

On the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment
overlooking the patchwork of fields and
woodlots, river valleys and floodplains,
the Algonquin Sea that once beached these heights,
thrived with lifeforms now gone to ground
long before the ancient tundra shore
vanished into the mists that now rise
to fill the primordial basin
with wisps of sea and echoes of
millennium past.

And yet, in the tiniest fossil found
in the minutiae of dolomite
the limestone scarp reveals itself
as the coral reef of a still more
distant time when sea was all there
was in this remaindered sea-bottomed landscape.

Stories so old they can only be told
in the voices of rock and the cadences
of stone can be glimpsed in visions
in the mid-air above the mists
of the long lost younger sea.

And below the patchwork fields and woods,
the aquifer pools and streams in the
underground world beneath the ululating
wind hills that lead down to the connected puddles
that are Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes,
the living waters are being consumed by
the towns and villages of the Nottawasaga valley
like some vast mammalian horde oblivious to
the consequences of depleting the water supply.

In the ages of extinctions life goes from wonder
to wonder like glimpses of far off reflections.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Horton J. Pig Dog

I never knew a dog the world conspired so much
against: the body of a hunting hound, his legs
were as short as a dachshund's, complicated
by a an early case of rickets, leaving his joints
twisted, painful in the frost or damp.

And yet they once saved his life: hit by a car,
he was short enough to shuffle under the bumper,
ahead of the wheels, and so escaped the fate
of a larger dog.
But even as a pup, in the tan,
pig-looking face captured in the photo that gave
rise to his name, he seemed fully conscious that
things would only get worse.
And he wasn't old,
we had him only seven years, but the long winters
left him each year more battered, turning
gray-haired, limping.
In the vets,
walking toward the pound, he turned to my brother,
Caged, Horton J. Pig Dog waited
as he always had: sitting on one buttock,
a paw bent awkward, his head erect.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After a Night of Ideological Bingeing

In the posting of web log ideologies,
among debates of objectivism and politics
and economics, among the logistics of
philosophies contested, the parry and thrust
is intoxicating until I awaken, hung-over from
methodical articulation, the banging back of
thought after thought, counter point after
counter point, emotions hiding as ideas,
purposes concealed in intellectual traps
and cul-de-sacs, the concern of correct
thought leaves me feeling dirty,
angers displaced into chosen sides,
us versus them, like a war being grown
on an agar plate
waiting to escape the lab
and defile the world.

Among the ways of words
I would rather make my way
where ideas move into intuitions
and arrive at beauty by routes not taken before,
or if the arrival is to ugliness and suffering
I would rather come there inside the healing
voice than come bearing didactic tones.

In the nuances of meaning
turned back in page leaves
and branches parted to see
what lies within and what
burbles with truth, I bathe
among the metaphors, and scrub
myself clean among shades
of meaning, the cool warmth
of evening becoming dawn
and time falling in pools
of still breaths held
to sustain a glimpse
of eternity expanding
and infinity measuring
the instant
of the microcosm
while a tingle of skin
celebrates spirit and thew,
and where I find joy in solitude
and gladness with others.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dead Bugs

There are dead bugs in my bed,
live ones on my wall:
they come every year,
little blue-grey bugs
with wings,
although I've never seen them fly.
They walk around a lot.

I went to visit my ex-girlfrined
and one fell out of my suit.
They have a graveyard in my window sill
I vacuum up now and then;

I guess that must be hell for them.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Well-Versed Heart

I have penned more odes to love
than I could ever hope or want to recall.
I have echoed every lovesick swain
who ever sentenced a passion to poesy.
I have written psalms and prayers and praise.
I have word-processed my idylls
and photocopied my confessions.

Like an aging general surveying the course
of his longest campaign,
I have grieved over the naive blunders of my youth,
considered the costly advances, the cavalier abandons,
the seasoned stands against the inevitable,
and learned patience for the long awaited
final engagement.

And now in answer, it seems,
to the psalmster's prayers,
to the young man's laments;
her silver-blue eyes
with their Scandinavian calm
gaze unflinchingly gentle
over the wreckage of my last victorious retreat.

How can I not return the Romantic from his exile;
how can I not grant him yet another indulgence,
how can I not risk being foolish one last time ?

What I remember is buying a blue scarf
and giving it to her for Christmas
and getting nothing in return.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Habits of Desire

In the habits of desire developed since the age of twelve
my impulse to go forth and multiply was tempered at first
only by the chronic rejections of girls unwilling to date me.

At the age of twenty-five
in a diet rich with promiscuity, I sought redemption
in the bars and dance clubs of the city.

I became apprenticed to the vanity
of women who would never have spoken to me
if we had been young together,

In the habits of hope - clung to despite all evidence to the contrary,
I passed through the phases of my aging. I survived failures and failings,
I survived betrayals and betraying; I survived the defects of childhood
and the neurosis of youth; I survived being clung to and clinging.

For it was redemption we sought:
we wanted to salvage the heroic dreams we had lost as teens.

Moderation awoke in the wilderness noting how every new affection
was laden with reapings and sowings.

The course of my life had become a penitent trail.

There was no enduring comfort in the quieting of heartbeats,
my head on breasts, still joined at the hips, in softening withdrawal.

There was ecstasy
in the nuances of all that had carried us away,
but that ecstasy
was like sonar that sounds out depths but receives back no echo.

Adam was dead
and he knew it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Words in Progress

If by progress I mean sanctification,
the process of renewing self and society
then I am progressing, or at least professing
to progress from lesser to greater,
distilling the best of me, refining
timings and placings

but if by progress I mean technology
as saviour and home to all hope,

then I mean technology only as metaphor
for what is genuine, actually there, the way
existence always was, the way it can at first only
be experienced through manufactured content
by nuts or bolts or levers or electronics,

materialized, but once invented and applied we
see what was always there, and we know it thereafter,
the technology no longer withstanding.

We possess the means of becoming more
through the understanding of realized nature;
word associations evoke becoming, their sonar
defines the unseen.

Experiences that remain
within range of our uncommon sense
come from words.

The ability to make sacred
all matters, ignites the base and
refines the uppermost, gives a fighting chance
to speak worlds into being which we can
leave to our children.

Edens arise
only when they resound from
the tips of our tongues

and edge existence

into the open.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

In a Pool of Light

CHORUS I'll be in a pool of light
Waiting for you and the last bus,
Whatever else may become of us
I'll be in a pool of light waiting for you,
I'll be in a pool of light
Waiting for the last bus.

For if I stay near the shadows
People see nothing but darkness:
Most sense something's not right
So that's why I'll wait by the lamp post.

I confuse others all the time
They think I'm someone I'm not:
I think unkind spirits swirl their shades
Around my soul an awful lot.

But I know that you know
I'm more found than lost these days:
Even if sometime you don't
Come looking for me this way.

CH But I'll be in a pool of light
Waiting for you and the last bus,
Whatever else may become of us
I'll be in a pool of light waiting for you,
I'll be in a pool of light
Waiting for the last bus.

I feel like a portrait
Too large for a frame,
Like a dancer
Burning skyward in flame.

Voices in the wilderness
Make haunts of my head,
They unnerve me occasion'ly
or fill me with dread.

I've hope like a river
Faith like a fountain
Love like a lake
Dammed in a mountain.