Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

Wedding Band

So much already surprised us,

the seizure thinning of sanity, thickening

chaotic bile.

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.

Hurdle

Sorrow finds him,

primary, raw,

leave-taking, unexpected

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.

Over

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.

Resolved

           Forgetful, in exile,

in the fires of failure,

honouring suffering

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.

Onward

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.

Bookends

I have this day to carry

like a large stone or like

a child.

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.

Down Between

Down between

this between

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

of victory.

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.

Lantern

I have made my prayers,

threw the disc and boiled

the water.

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,

internal exploration

and four-wall refuge.

Plugged, unplugged,

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.

Rescue

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

Lead,

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

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