It Takes You
Through the asylum streets
where the rain butters my hands
and mowed weeds scatter in piles on the curbs,
I look for your familiar figure
rushing between rush-hour strangers.
My bed is stale
with you wandering
from donut shop to open stages
silent and bewitched
by the lunar
I reach my hand to cup
an autumn leaf descending
Whenever I touch him
around my shell.
He says no, no,
to the great descent
to hands locked in the wind,
on pillow or sheets.
October sun beating on my covered spine
So many walls erected in the name of home
He talks of black birds glowing
or running into webs as wide
as a tree’s open arms.
The Ground We Touch
No lust to sing of or heartbreak
to bury. Circling the golden fields
of yesterdays gone,
coiling the hooded tomorrows
and all the white folds
of sky. Under
the driftwood stars,
a thousand sleepers drain the
waters from zenith high.
They crash down, sinking into
bedrock, stumbling below where
no bird could breathe.
And above where the oceans
burn and roll, fish take flight
like a million moons.
I tilt back and see above
a tiered canopy
that rises great heights, separating pockets of sky
– some blue, some with clouds –
layers, textures swaying in gentle phrases,
opening the hilltop-cap of grief
more like pouring in
the truth of helplessness,
setting free depths unspoken,
domed in such beauty.
Perfection that cannot be matched
or misplaced as mediocre or somewhat flawed,
but is flawed, not one straight line
or obedience to symmetry,
all space taken up with its fecund flesh.
No cell or stem rotted without reason, rotted
because of regret or the weight of culture
or the ridged mind-set of past tradition, but all the past
contained within it.
The ancient trunk expanded equally in the roots
and the leaf currents, intertwined with other currents
to build a blanket, thick enough to feel protected,
mesmerized by the soft motion overgrowth bloom,
a place to anchor a home, release all weapons, comforted.
I dreamt again
of the past encroaching
like a wet towel, tight
around my clothed body.
I dreamt I felt alone, doomed to dance
on a suspended scaffold’s floor.
Among the bitter people I walked,
near their self-pity and inconsolable isolation.
I tried to separate myself, split the heavy air
with my fingers. I tried
to wave their fear into the mouth
of everlasting light.
But love was bitten at the stem,
and the hideous thirst within
grew again like a snake its second, tougher skin.
I dreamt I wandered half-made buildings,
where squatters lived, sheltered
in the dank concrete ruins.
I travelled through without shoes, dreaming
of sand-soft ground.
After the Day
Love is in my belly like evening tea,
comforting after the day’s rush.
Love is there like a discipline
I used to own, exciting
because of its blind determination.
The old man walks the alleyway
with his cane and curious eyes.
He waves to me from the window, then
stretches him arms to cup the wind.
Somewhere the stray has been saved
from the freezing-frost. Somewhere
a woman has conceived, and a dog
has found his favourite toy.
Love is a monk’s old robe
tainted a rich bluish green.
Like twilight blankets the day
it sits on my lap covering –
We rode our wounded dream
to a place drawn out like Prairie
ground. A washcloth was all we needed,
a scared rock or stepping stone.
Lingering there with useless hands,
many times ready for the culling field,
holding elephant bones under
We swept the dead-end from our horizon.
We lived looking within, seeking out some mercy
behind our bondage.
This land knew our pacing,
our ineffectual pilgrimage.
It was fire and still burns like war or
a fallen constellation.
We spun our wishes in mid-air,
tilled the lifeless soil
mourning the hot metal
that poured between good fortune
and the bloodstains of destiny.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015/2018, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1200 poems published in more than 475 international journals and anthologies. In 2018, her book Sight at Zero, was listed #34 on CBC’s “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List”.
Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published sixteen other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. More recently, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group). She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album. “River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst” released October 2017.