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selections of poetry and prose from three of his previously published books, his blog The Well Versed Heart and unpublished works.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

Monday, September 26, 2016

Howling Algiers

The children of forgotten Lou'sian,
in a warehouse called Haven

black, white and brown, high yellow and Asian,
Choctaw, Creek and Houmas,
salvaged from a derelict time,
refuse of the atomic age, escapees
from the implosion of nuclear families,
abused, berated, shattered and bereft
led out of New Awlins over the snaking Mississippi
by their own daemon genius for flight,
cities draining youth from their catchments.
Some never made it back, some did;
some went down to the water's edge and
what became of them
after that brief shining time when they lived as one,
that long Summer of Love ago,
back when they made their way through broken windows
past unwound clocks and calendars of other days:
dragging tables chairs beds and blankets through the night,
creating a kitchen in candlelight
that no street ever saw; shadows within shadows
within darkness defying despair?
What became of them
hunting dumpsters for food and reusables,
making meals in big pots, always enough for all,
trying not to steal so the law wouldn't care:
theft the only unforgivable crime in America?
Boys almost men sold themselves to uptown Cadillacs
for cum-blown rides in quiet corners, buggered in rooms,
torn out of childhood, shames still buried, shames buried with them:
girls, escaped from ponytails and barbie dolls,
selling themselves, taken in every hole by hard, or lonely men,
returning with food and medicines and sundries: scars
and secrets no one ever learned; a city
that had no idea they were beating time together
in a place they called Haven, Havre, Bìfēnggǎng, Rifugio and Attuko.

That life became Jimmy Little Rat, for whom no crack was too small
the stealth of shadows, the diffidence of cats,
vanished into a sewer and never came back.
Became Linda the Red, and Billy the Knife, who took one another
as husband and wife then rode the junk train in their veins
til they had to be carried away, left
where others would find them, untraceable,
no one but those who carried them caring,
until newsmen dug up their families in Slaughter
set the flames of addiction burning
for treatments that came too late
for Billy Roberts and his Creek wife, Linda Tuskineah.

That life became Pistolero Pete,
the fifteen year old Chicano card shark,
who fancied himself a Riverboat blackleg but upped the wrong ante one hand too many, staggering down Patterson, with a stiletto-opened back,
found cold on the Levee dead eyes open on the River of his dreams,
left by the kids for the cops, the only time he was ever caught,
his discovered corpse becoming their joke in his honour ever after.

The oldest was twenty, the youngest, twelve, Kitty,
tubercular, runaway from Slidell, carried on a board
by the child whores though hurricane debris, coughing black blood,
past roofless, wailing, plaster-eyed nuns
who received her like a sacrament;
until seven years later, a newly frocked priest
gave up his collar for her good graces;
still working the hallucinatory streets,
missionary saints to runaways.

Children of forgotten Lou'sian, scavenge themselves
out of an abandoned wilderness, blow Teliko
on brass fittings and pipes, drum buckets and cans.
strung-wire screwed onto resonators strummed
for joy and ache wailing burnt-out basements,
becoming music the working world never hears,
concrete floors painted with their rage and redemptions,
resounding walls scrawled with their couplets and epitaphs,
their spoken minds chalked on giant beams from ancient forests,
carve themselves into soft brick walls,
Roman reliefs becalming unlit catacombs.

They slept and sleep together in arrays,
twos, threes, fours and many at once
loving, pleasing, despairing, desperate for kindness
from anyone, indifferent to background, to all the codes
they bring like baggage, busted open, remade into one rule:
protect haven and those who live and lived there, always.

Like Ginny Lupo, who everyone claimed was related to a mafia don
and who could talk her way out of anything but a run-in
with a wop-hating cracker from Gretna who beat her so badly
she spent months recovering, while the cracker went on with his business,
until she could speak again, after which, her assailant was found
with a bullet in his brain, hanging on a lamppost on Tolliss
near the Crescent City Bridge, after which
she went home came back with food and blankets and wine
time after time; never forgot her friends and never will.

Like Saint Odile, the daughter of a preacher from Thibodaux,
whose bed was open anytime loneliness broke one of them,
til she got pregnant and carried the child to full term,
gave birth in a heating duct,
and left her son with the Ladies Auxiliary,
the rumour's always told, how she's been a cook,
working an oil platform, shipping out of Beaumont, Texas,
and another rumour always told,
that she keeps leaving children for her daddy,
but no one knows why, though several went asking
and no one has found her, but they'll never stop looking.

Children and teens burned through life; come through years never enough;
the other Summer of Love was for those with flowers in their hair,
they themselves knew only full life bore on Sanctuary Drive
where wharves rot on pilings in the river sheen
of oil tanker rust while brackish wash among dying reeds
recites the coral snake rhyme becoming handy sometimes
Red and yellow, kill a fellow; red and black, friend of Jack.”
And for those still alive now, the memories never died,
and for those who died then, they're inside those who survived,
and for those whose minds broke or silenced,
they too, are remembered across years,
the living still hoping
to lead them back
in the name of the one
who was hung on a tree,
the one at the heart,
lynched out of hate,
never forgotten,
whose only crime
was doing the best he could
for those who needed him,
lynched for being black,
for loving someone lighter,
someone who
remembers each day since,
including the days
when the walking streets almost took her
til others who loved her
got her home before
she too found a branch
on the same tree
to bear what she could not.

The children of forgotten Lou'sian,
black, white and brown, high yellow and Asian,
Choctaw, Creek and Houmas,
salvaged from a derelict time,
refuse of the atomic age, escapees
from the implosion of nuclear families,
abused, berated, shattered and bereft
led out of New Awlins and across the Mississippi
the way all cities drain youth from their catchments
the way some never make it back, the way some always escape
the way some always end up on the water's edge sinking
because no one knows when it began, or if it can ever end.