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selections of poetry and prose from three of his previously published books, his blog The Well Versed Heart and unpublished works.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, July 4, 2014

Afternoon in the Country

In the sun hot afternoon of a late spring gathering
among wildflower fields and bramble paths enroute
to friendships and new acquaintances with whom
my skin fits like an oversized ego shored up by
the fallen timbres of my ever doubtful inner voice,
I know I am not alone: the mixed bag certainties of others
become discussions of art, music, meaning,
the people that humanity itself should become if only we would.

I feel like rearranged rubble, sliding down scree,
avalanches of emotions from too many times and places
cross-thatched into a straw man with wine-stained lips;
I think with polar opposites and magnetic repulsions,
keen to hear and understand, to speak and be understood, but also,
to befuddle and mumble and distract lest I be known too well,
lest people spook and vanish aboard unfinished sentences bound for other rooms.
In every subject I hear echoes of the same in others:
the uneasy peace of self acceptance and self insufficiency.

And in this state of eager anxiety, the warm, wandering breezes
of the sun-borne arrival of evening bathes grace-infused stillness
through drifting cloud breaks. We listen with one ear to insect orchestras
from wildflower meadows and former farm fields alive with bird song improvisations.
The old stone house creaks with shifting arches and doorways that settle around
piano laughter, couched conversations upholstered in quilted patterns of art and politics and
the peculiarities and insights of absent others, male and female voices parabolic with their
prismatic opinions diffusing across the ceiling to the clinking of bottles and glasses
and deep dog sighs huffed above dust, displaced like tumbleweed across throw-rug prairies:
a straggle of friends upon a hillside in the decaying orbit of human trajectory.

I escape in the midst of someone else's mid-sentence. The need to be outside:
outside myself, outside the party, the drinks, the human condition itself,
deposits me on the patio while the unseen river, veiled in greenery, ruminates
on its ancient banks down the hillside falling away from where I stand.
The scent of crushed tansy mingles with the waft of soup, bread and cheese.
The cicada rhythms of transformers hum like a drone to the percussive talk from within.

The beer and wine does not help the cause of balanced uncertainty, however much it
loosens the flow of associative communion; it pulls up short, an almost there,
always fled down falling shadows of continuous doubt, a jazz brew gumbo
of gratitude and regret carried on the wind to the sound of commuter traffic
and the cross valley sandpit trucks in pastel shades of dusk plume silence
as inescapable as an angel with a sword on guard outside Eden, re-entry denied:
redemption blocked by the mechanical erosion of beauty clocking off for the day,
the separation at the heart of the despair that raises the glass to my lips,
the impossibility of being alive without the grace imbued in nature.

The harmony and alienation of the human creature hoping to speak
the ecstatic whole of sensory and spiritual experience breathes its living dayfall:
inhales eternal belonging; exhales solitude as sadness personified while the planet
of this day continues turning from the sun until starlight rises into sacred night
and the anguished gale of longing shatters the glass
and all the dark grief of being finds voice:
hears, smells, tastes and feels
the broken world groaning for the regeneration
of the prodigal species at the top of the food chain.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The People's Poet

The photo of Milton Acorn hung in the shadows of the tavern,
his cragged face weary with bagged eyes, bulging hardships
falling free down flat cheekbones sustained by a steady gaze;
his wild hair swept back as if by an unconscious hand,
grooming that had also grazed his goatee,
causing it to jut towards the future,
towards the direction he was intent on taking,
the direction he had always taken, the way
of solidarity with the long suffering.
It was a nicotine-stained, framed image of a writer
his peers had dubbed the People's Poet.

Acorn, the unashamed communist with the carpenter's hands
and the sprawling soul troubled by war wounds and drink,
came into his voice on the provincial sandbar that is Prince Edward Island,
the place to which he soon after the picture was hung returned his remaining years.

Long ago, I sat in Grossman's tavern looking at his image,
studying the dedication to a man who reminded me of my father
and grandfather: the same shattered, political romanticism
held together by the will of their dialectic acuity:
minds that would never give up the struggle,
hearts that found company among the misbegotten
and among the deep dreaming word workers
slurring themselves to sleep in the company of fellow travelers
who always made sure they arrived safely.

I have no idea why the memory of Acorn returned to me,
I can't even remember if he and I were ever
in the same place at the same time or not,
it just feels like we were; feels like I have been celebrating
the same exuberance of longing in the anguish of existence,
defending the poet's need to speak a better world into being,
the need to accept love in all the places we find it,
the need to overthrow misery within and without, 
the need to discover mercy in the tender twilight
where dune grasses still trace haikus on tidal pool sands;
where wild bay leaf bushes on the beach at Dalvay
spoke his name to the sea of his childhood.

I also remember liking one of his poems on a poster on the subway
but don't recall a word of it;  I remember as well singing
“spun you out of my eyes fire” to my Perth County Conspiracy album,
and the hard way the People's Poet wore his gentleness on the tip of his pen.

Mostly, I remember the stained paean to Acorn on that tavern wall when I was young
and first burned with the need to un-wound the world, I remember failing at that,
and writing another poem anyway, as if sorrow contained its own antidote;
as if joy was an act of defiance, a conflagration triggered by
 the breaking of humanity; a purifying blaze
born in utterance and fed by abandoned reiteration.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Interlude of Quiet

The cool air of the floor of the gorge rises from the river
to the warm heights of the plateau in the light, raindamp afternoon,
the early spring sun lost behind cloud for days,
disturbing only the equilibrium of the mist
drifting through the railing ballisters of the David Street Bridge
to swirl across the span and caress the trees of the limestone cliff edges
before the updraft dissipates the remaining haze into the grey skies
above and beyond the view from my kitchen window.

There is a tenderness in the mist, an uplift to yet another
gloomy April forecast, to the chill that refuses to surrender the season
of the harsh winter, otherwise gone but for warmth delayed.
Even now, the cold-battered willows,
maples and ash, seem to heal in the soft, stray breezes,
the scars of the December ice-storm still everywhere to be seen:
lost limbs, branches; split trunks and denuded boles
seem glad of the palliative day and the care of the restorative drizzle.

The human animal carries the idea of spring postponed
in our bones, but the trees linger at their own pace,
nurtured by soil and water while they await the sun of their quickening.

If I can't be like them, I can at least wait with them, glad of nuanced mercies,
at peace, because they have so far survived the changing climate as have I,
whether doomed or not, the outcome in the balance, trouble enough
for another day than this interlude of quiet.

Jerry Prager 05/01/2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Symphonic River

The symphonic river plays both sides of the bridge,
the flow of the gathering descent softly erupts
in white cap resistance to submerged rock, a gentle,
reiterated resonance heard under the concrete road span,
the lyric arches on each side posted with listening chambers.

The downside fall over limestone ledge levels
are accented with cascades of plummeting scales
across last year's rushes and grasses, effervescent cadences,
improvised elucidations of gurgles and plops, whooshes, plunges and sprays
that whisper downstream and escape hearing:
variations of nuance layering the attenuated soundscapes,
isolating strains of melody from the air.

Too diverse for fixation, too alive for inattention,
the symphonic river plays both sides of the bridge
conducted by water levels over the bed of its movements,
themes of melt-flood voice solitudes of winter, internalizing
the virtuosity of a bend crossed by a country road
in a composition as long as the tributary's unfoldings.

And now, hours later, days later, an exuberant tranquility
continues to heal my inner ear aching from the work
of mallet on chisel on stone through nothing more than
memories of the hot sun of that sparkling afternoon alone on
a rural shoulder near Irvine Street farm fields, remain as moments recalled,
as cool shadows of the cedar-lined banks and the receding flood plains;
instants of the awakening Earth relived, like the chorus of insects
thrumming counterpoint to the rolling valley runoff
washing over me like a balm still, long after leaving
the lyric bridge and the symphonic river
and the glorious light of fleeting impressions,
harnessed now to the page for the sake of spoken song
and the traces that you yourselves bring to the verses
of your own winter resolves.

Jerry Prager Elora, 4/21/2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Prayer for a Symbiotic Beyond

Lord, I am becoming alienated from common experience,
from the modern world, from politics I cannot stomach, religious leaders
I will not follow, promises I never trust, a culture I find malignant, malicious to its depths, a fallen spirit is consuming everything in its path behind its false face
marketing and its commercial shallows suffocating everything of grace and beauty.
It's not that I think I am alone without common cause, or that I am
especially unique, or particularly special; I am certainly no better than some
and less bad than others, but I cannot care about what passes for caring
in a world fixated on security, on the keeping of the wolf from the door
that opens only to me and mine: a world terrified of the other,
a state of affairs machinated into being
by masters of war and manufacturers of poverty.

I have no home Lord, not in a province becoming bungalow upon town house upon
neighbourhood upon subdivision, sprawl upon sprawl spreading like a virus,
the banality of evil subsuming woodlots, forests, creeks, streams, rivers, ponds:
the natural world of my childhood, eviscerated by the mundanities of sameness,
by streets that could be lost anywhere in North America, by big box plazas and
stores of identical looks and products and prices built on the wage slavery
of third world misery, places I refuse to enter, thresholds I refuse to cross,
profiteers I refuse to aid and abet, privateers whose crown charters should be revoked and their hold on the commerce of the commonwealth broken forever.

And I am just as alienated from my nation, Father. I was twelve when Canada celebrated
its first century, I came of age certain we would change the world for the better,
but now I find Canadians slouching towards our sesquicentennial
like the beast towards Bethlehem hoping to be born as a succubus
on the tar sands of Isengard, while the Just Society staggers
towards oblivion hand in hand with the Whore of Babylon
pimped by the minions of Mammon in Don Cherry jackets
and Harper hair-helmets rolling up the rim to lose ourselves
among the litter on the road to the hell of our best intentions.
Canada dismays me, betrays me, Lord
we have become a self-satisfied people
resting on the laurels of our predecessors, while
we surrender our rights and freedoms to oligarchs
coming for our water, our land and our air: debt enslaved,
we do what we are told, not because we are too polite to resist,
but because we bought into the low-end dream of 'nation as' beer ad;
more interested in the outcome of hockey games than in the natural world
about to evict our species for trashing the place. I have no home in the Canada
that is defined by a coffee chain named after a drunk driving Maple Leaf
who killed himself in a car crash; we have developed the souls of
fast food franchises, Lord whose products would actually prevent anyone from ever
becoming an Olympian if they lived off the crap that is served every day using
temporary foreign workers and dead end wage earners who can't feed, shelter or clothe themselves or their families on the pay they get from their billionaire bosses.
We pride ourselves as a nation on our compassion in times of global disasters Father,
but then refuse to face the realities of life for the disenfranchised
at home and around the world, we lack the courage to challenge the rich
and so sell out everyone below us on the food chain so that
the people who run the world don't take away what they allow us:
we are a nation of moral cowards, but this too shall pass.

And it will pass because You buried within us
the mutually beneficial creatures that humans are inexorably becoming.
Older generations like mine may be busy
dying into the husks of our lost causes, but the young are busy
being born into humanity's best shot at redemption;
because all the answers already exist, Sermon on the Mount answers
no more complex than the cooperative lessons of Sesame Street;
answers no more complicated than just enough people refusing to remain idle,
refusing to become prey of economic predation,
defying the ways and means of greed.

You know, better than I Father, that our young will arrive at the tipping point together,
inside or outside their boxes, crossing the single axle of time, in time,
because once tipped, nothing will be the same, ever,
and all that once seemed insurmountable will become history.
That is my hope, my trust; the remnant of my defiance:
some of the young will rise as we fall, they will cross the fulcrum
of Social Darwinism; and a small but significant portion will become other
in the heart beat of the evolutionary instant and after that,
they will raise their children as symbiotic lifeforms on a symbiotic planet;
as new creatures in a new creation, in a world without end. Amen.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I am resonant with lyric... (revised)

I am resonant with lyric...

I am resonant with lyric, a lifetime of song strung down the ages of my internal landscape signposted with rhyming couplets and musical passages that echo-find my way home: verses and choruses linking places and people: long lost, half-remembered, almost-forgotten friends lovers and acquaintances, the barely known, the fleeting few, the one night stands that never left the corners of thanks into which they crept: the heart sick hopes gone to seed, the deviations from the peers of my youth, the secret longings and desires, the confusions, denials, insights, affections and lusts sung imperfectly.

I am an oratorio of discordant fugues from an age of early abuse, stumbling towards spiritual reckoning, charted on scales by notations to self: heal and be healed, forgive and be forgiven. Adopted by mercy, I am confusion's child, come of age in a distempered time, both more and less than I could have been, hovering somewhere in the mid-distance of memory and outcome; a medley of all that came when fear first began to sing for its supper among the disappearing stars, in the days before the shadows fell and the darkness walked my dreams, when the thrumming of my blood twisted my guts beyond recognition and I became ashes translating flesh into dust, transposing wrongs into weary tunes laid to rest.

I am an identity crisis of confidence, broadcasting hypersensitivity to nuance and hurt, crowding the intimacy of others, because I am out of rhythm and rhyme, swept up in the crescendo of a desperate stand against falling worlds, one more David without a sling or a stone, a psalmist's heart in the path of giants, dancing in a loin cloth to a song only I hear, a clanging sword in my head, an incantation of doubt chanted against a day of faith.

I am the musical strains of an urban night's booze-can rock band driving home the bleak reality of humanity's common loneliness; I am the memory of loon orchestras and percussive campfires crackling naked in the rippling sunset waters swirling about my ears to the sounds of sinking Titanics and crying Kumbayas.

I am the companion of balladeers in a chamber of ghosts and in whose company I have no voice articulate enough to explain the oddities of the space in which I exist: I am a house party at dawn, the last bars in the last song of an encore, a sun rise walk on an empty beach, distillates of bird calls in the coming dawn of harms' way or help's rescue.
I am a whisper of singers aching the traces of weeping, strung-out like laundry on wonders.

I am the offspring of lyric fragments and broken melodies, brother to a hop, skip and a jump. I am married to a torch song and father of a roundelay. I am the do re me. You can be the fa so la ti, but only if you wanna be. Only if you wanna...