Poetry from Allison Grayhurst


It Takes You

Allison Grayhurst

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

and feel


feather blown.


Whenever I touch him



Heavy shackle

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 –

cherished, unclaimed.


We Rode



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

condemning light.


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.