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Rest on the Flight into Egypt

by A.F. Moritz

Reading Albert Moritz, one is reminded that this conscientious social objector could easily pass for a modern day Tom Jones. Throughout his provocative, deeply moving, and challenging collection, the Toronto-based artist frames his moral outrage at the world in verse. His insistent protests about life’s inequities give voice to the downtrodden. Torture, brutality, unemployment, isolation, desolation, and cultural devastation are just a few of the issues that Moritz explores with fresh insight. He has the ability to imbue common objects with grotesque nuance: “…was rooting up my garden. Breaking off fingernails, fingertips pouring blood, as if to make a soup…”

The title poem suggests that we live in a permanent state of transit, constantly seeking the Promised Land. “God will let us stay here a long time, in this place we loved at first sight, though it is ordained that some day we’ll have to leave.” Moritz’s unflinching and honest appraisal of why we are in flux – factories close and move to areas where labour is cheap and virgin springs wait to be polluted – may move readers into combat mode. In his view, the apocalypse may be taking place now, but it is sanitized and sugar-coated. We are blamed for creating our own misery, “Remember all who seek will find … remember there’s work for all.”

Moritz’s poems ought to be required reading for the paragons of industry who blithely undo the lives of the common folk. Whether he is writing on mythology “Ode to Apollo” or about contemporary issues “Kissinger at the Funeral of Nixon”, Moritz’s record of pain is deeply felt.