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selections of poetry and prose from three of his previously published books, his blog The Well Versed Heart and unpublished works.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.

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.