So much already surprised us,
the seizure thinning of sanity, thickening
The loss, barely bearable,
the ineffectualness of love,
all kaleidoscopes shattered, every facet of our beings,
bent to, immersed in, fragility.
It wasn’t the stars –
they are always saying
hoot! and ahhhh!
it has never been them nor
their sway upon our inner equilibrium and
our outer balancing of gravity.
It wasn’t even how deep and involved our prayers were
or even our feeble masks of courage,
denting our dignity so we could have a new form to try on,
taste, and learn what taste is, yet again.
What it was and is is chance,
the dispelling of random energy until the whole illusion grows
transparent – and we, divinely shocked out of
our complacency, our certainty,
resemble helpless fledglings, crushed
by a fall.
What it is is rising,
rising from that, still broken,
incapable of flight, but
capable of asking God
to lift us and wait with faith
for the rising up.
What it is is leaving
our crushed shells while still inhabiting them,
living for the fountain-spring, the miracle,
not working within the natural laws, not
manipulating those laws with tailspin good luck charms,
knowing the miracle is in our leaving,
accepting our unknowing
in this bright surrender, this marriage vow,
river received, inception.
Sorrow finds him,
as a push into freezing waters.
Cold sister of the kill,
hostile in life and in dreams.
It is good you are gone, I think.
I think it would have been better
if you could have gained depth,
and seen it through.
There will be grief. There will be more
hurting, but your ship is out on the ocean
and he doesn’t want you back on shore,
for he knows, nothing is worth holding
that doesn’t want to be held.
He is a Prince whose light is fed from the heavens.
He will experience extraordinary love,
raise children, hold a steady fulfilment
that nothing can snatch away.
There will be a building up after this devastation.
Eventually, he will see this loss as a gift,
a making room for a happiness
that requires no analysis and will not break
when it needs to leap.
The wound is the wall
that gelds your desire,
prevents the granting
of your destiny –
holder of many secrets, entrusted with
genius vitality, and your mind
leaping into the sacred fires,
emerging with a discovered vocabulary,
a fruit-heavy tree at your disposal, giver
of never-ending nutrients, navigating
a route to the divine.
The wound is the wall,
is nothing in comparison to your offering,
is a miniscule overcoming.
When you know that
you will have arrived on the other side –
the floodgates will open, your great light
will engulf the city, countries, and hearts
of many different flavours.
The wound was the wall
was part of your strength, a glass
to drink from and describe its taste.
A new proclamation
is on the table, telling you
to walk through, accept
your innate purified power,
be received, be recognized.
Forgetful, in exile,
in the fires of failure,
like a story told in form,
a totem-working of visual permanence.
I bore my marriage
to the joyous wilderness in one hand,
and sacrilegious duty
in the other.
Today, I join these hands
to create stability, sanctuary,
creativity touching ground and discipline.
I burn the dead wood, releasing
my prisoner-identity and climb out of
the fishnet into deep fulfillment like
into a valley with a lake and untamed
foliage all around.
The pull and tug of two lives is gone,
tension internalized as useful energy,
as something to be incorporated, harnessed,
the generator of a mature dream – a dream
with no division, bound,
and happy to be bound.
Becoming passes into being,
and heightened intensity
is restored – every moment,
alert and bearing anxiety
for the reasonable necessity it is,
in this time, this coming year
of upheaval and uncertainty.
No joy will every exceed the joy
found when the light restored in your eyes,
and your arms embraced mine from the
hospital bed where you lay in a blue cloak
with tubes and needles, and your mind, finally aware,
your heart, at once fragile with shock and fear,
but vital, perpetual in its outpouring love.
Beautiful son, 18, eclipsing every ideal
with your innate wisdom, compassion and energy,
leaping in youthful courageous commitment, tough
where you need to be, strong and accomplished, kind
like the sun is kind by rising, and the hawk
as it flies overhead calling, driving home the mystery
and the majesty of the dream.
I have this day to carry
like a large stone or like
I can whisper my grievances
to the pockets of clouds
in an otherwise clear sky
or I can make pictures with them
in my mind, be seduced
by their wispy ever-changing boundaries,
divulging the shapes of creatures
I can’t even name, or branches
extending to the edge of the sun.
I can take these last days of freedom
and deliver them to the bitter hunter
before their time or I can hold myself
proper, mortal, clothed in only the day, sober,
bound by neither inevitability nor expectation.
The day has many appendages, tricks and snares.
It is a matter of riding clear, slightly raised
above the ground, able to glide
like in the dream I often have, above the bubble,
sometimes above the trees, moving natural,
past obstacles and footholds, just enjoying the breeze,
the ease of a steady self-directed pace,
and even stopping for meals,
leashed to necessity as I glide,
as I hold a rock, a rose
in either hand.
the walls of dignity and duty.
Death tells me to sleep,
close the shades and curl up.
The future is a mountain,
madness with no clear line
The future is a necklace
I broke but must somehow mend
and try to wear.
I refuse this burden
too blob-like, inhospitable to bear.
I refuse the harm of martyrdom,
the distorted secrets divulged in dreams.
Nail it to the wall, pour boiled water
on it and let it cook until it no longer bleeds.
End this relationship as it reduces your strength
to a failed conclusion.
Flood the garden, drain it
and plant chrysanthemums.
I have made my prayers,
threw the disc and boiled
The wind is still
so I must be still.
When it moves, I will rise up
and move with it.
The stillness is not a coffin,
nor is it emptiness,
only a time of settling,
and four-wall refuge.
a point of arrival and departure –
I will stay, listening like a small bird
is always listening, ready for flight,
ready to be initiated into a greater world
to match the poetry in my mind.
When I will move forward,
I have no clue, not yet.
That I will move forward is inevitable, so
I will not wrestle the quiet,
will not feel myself abandoned.
I hear a faint breeze moving
over there, over there.
I think I hear the first syllables
of my name.
End of the day, relenting,
easing off the mighty restlessness
that overtook the morning
and most of the afternoon.
I know the deeds of my happiness
and the hot flesh branding of my imprisonment.
I know as I held council with the speakers
in my mind – all of them directing me
to wide open freedom and teamwork
to stave off the forces of death
and unrighteous burial.
They tell me it is time to close fast the wounds
that siphon out our power, be brave
as if we were in a deserted city on a mountain
surrounded by a rising sea and shouting winds
clanking their lock-fast swallowing chains.
Hold out they tell me, on the highest tower,
at the highest point, and never
let our trust become captive to fear.
They tell me, even though we look right,
we look left, seeing nothing but sky and clouds,
even though our ankles and knees are already immersed,
as the smells of fishy salt fill our nostrils,
holding our hands above the pressing doom,
engage with God, they tell me.
All at once, the voices tell me,
stand equal, and in that equality,
the light come.
Let us be one and we will know mercy,
stronger than gravity, than all of our bones combined.
The light will come and it will love us,
conquering, alleviating the final struggle.
Cage of Many Pockets and Layers
into the land of vermin,
infesting the once blooming shores,
past the emergency-alarm, into
living fires, boiling and sharp in
their arrogant countenance.
Alone on a humble rock, standing –
arms folded, then stretched wide and up.
I take the hand and am led to a land
that tests my dignity and my resolve.
Many voices I must lose, people to leave behind.
The ship is the hand
leading through levels of horror
until the gate opens
to the possibility for redemption.
Wings of demons block the sky – pilgrimage eternal,
shaking off pity for the futile swarm moving
like lips of a mouth moving that offers no sound or groan.
My mind is tied to heaven, committed to resurgence.
My heart breaks but it is still whole, leaving,
being led over the land of naught, where there is plenty
of self-righteous indignation, self-sorrowing gleam
and the shadows,
led through and over
flailing limbs, bodies multiplying –
a thickening mass, swirling, swirling…
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 1,260 poems published in more than 500 international journals and anthologies.
In 2018, her book Sight at Zero, was listed #34 on CBC’s “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List”.
In 2020, her work was translated into Chinese and published in “Rendition of International Poetry Quarterly” and in “Poetry Hall”.
Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published eighteen other books of poetry and five 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. Also, 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). More recently, her book Tadpoles Find the Sun was published by Cyberwit, August 2020. She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com