Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

New Wheel – The Passage of Arnik

(king of a small land)

Part 1

My skin was stone,

drenched in an accelerant and

lit on fire. And there I burned,

a flaming rock impassable by

every woman and man who

tried to cross my shore. My fire

was final, a never-dying-heat

guarding the dead cold core

beneath its frantic dance.

Murder was easy as was laughing,

glaring bold-faced at the sun,

but languishing in waters, still or stormy,

was never my game, only, swift, loveless striking,

blistering and charring, beating with a spike

any imagined challenge to my seat in the center.


You covered my face with your hair,

let me sear it, then the skin of that face, to the bone.

And still you would not leave me, give up

on my indomitable obscenity – finely-tuned

to the leftover ash of my tenderside.

My madness was your deformed child. Even when

you ended me, taking an axe to break up my hard form –

you were more sorry than I was, heartbroken

to scatter that fire, watch its petering-out-existence

on the cracked concrete fragments of what I once was.

For me, it was freedom from its burn,

a relief, relieving me from the devil’s obligation.

I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t speak, but

I saw you crying – such strength

embedded in so much softness. I forgot

you had a formidable side. I forgot

that love was a ruthless wielding sword –

for both of us – terrible, unforgiving and

stronger than either of our self-proclaimed mantras,

better than personal devotion, brighter

than the burning or the burnt, tortured,

cloned-for-infinity, layered upon layer, like us,

molecularly as one, irreparably damned.


Part 2


Tentacles, unfurled, then

curled, suctioning out

the snail from its shell.

Through the narrow hold of hell

I built a kingdom, wide and ruthless,

I cut the heads off the keepers of faith,

increased my stature as I did my gluttony –

sensual overload.


There was a tree in the courtyard, old and by its own.

Everyday I would chip pieces off its bark, because I could,

because I knew it hurt and I wanted to murder it, slowly,

this old beauty that held its ground longer than me.

I wanted its stillness, if not to own, then to conquer.

I obsessed over its carved-up flesh, kept its pieces

in a box by my bed, one day planning to collect

the whole of its body in many boxes –

building a shelf for that alone.


But that day never came, for I found death

by the swift hand of my lover, after love-making

after laughter, almost sleeping – showing him the tree pieces,

while gloating at my cruelty, he sucked in my dark wind

and gathered an axe from its exhale.

He watch me fade. I faded,

spilled out over the bedding and the hand-crafted floor.

He cried openly, pressing his

lips against my skin, he sang to me –

laid the bark-pieces tenderly across my chest –

and there I was buried, there, in dying I awoke,

for the first time in that lifetime, trembling with peace,

I began a journey somewhere, home.


Part 3


Inside the white hot soul

that boils with bitter outward

blame, primitive in its inception

like a just-born-star,

born from a black hole sink hole infusion

of pain and power – tight knot force pouring

from an unguarded door, gushing forward like

a colossal flood, lifting homes, babies from parental arms

and the nesting rodents from their burrows, remorseless,

lashing this way and that just for the sake of it,

for the sound and for the consequences

I could unleash.


Whispers in my ear of love

were an implanting-larvae insect bite

to pour vinegar on and be done with.

But they burned, these larvae beneath my skin, traveled north

to latch onto my spinal neck nerve, hatch again,

consuming me with ignored madness.


I kept myself pure of sentiment until the end, until the next life

when those larvae overtook, and cloaked my retreat

with parallel barriers of shame and guilt,

called me to a time out, to be removed,

to learn discipline and control, gentleness

carrying out daily simple tasks, bothering no one –

small, self-sustaining, glimpsing a first taste of a personal

God as I

let the weight bear down, through the darkness, building

a sanctuary where I could chalk-mark the walls with my crimes,

come to terms with accountability.


Gradually, many lifetimes later, those larvae grew translucent wings,

thin, but strong enough to lift me off the ledge of confinement,

into the light of a new longing – a vision bursting, birthed from both

a streamlined-focus responsibility toward a tender eternity

and a well-cave of feeding minerals, feeding,

blunt-axe perpetually hacking, holy despair.


Part 4


I speak of a cloud

fanning north – it went

past barricade ripples,

ended in a thin line above a blanket

fog. Wild disorder,

language I could not steal or make up,

but found the natural disappearance

of all things in its fate.

A creature obscure, placematting perfection

into a one-dimensional genius.

Good riddance to lineage and the shaming

fish-flight up against some sharks.


I touched you and you were naked. It felt

greater than love, but it was not so. It was

wider than a lifetime and swayed all over

the map, cloak-covering the appendages

of tyranny and a tyrant’s response to fear.

We rejoiced together, exhilarated by the possibilities

and the perpetual spin weaving macabre plot

that lead to this glimpse of redemption.

It was the end – hoofprint on the grass

made invisible by an onslaught storm.

Even for the weight and starkness that came after,

I am grateful for the chance

you gave to be reborn – to dare myself

into solitude and austere discipline.


I speak of a cloud

then of a king that was a man

who lost his heavy shape and substance

in a calm sky… know it, know it now,

a law, an equilibrium

dissolved – miraculous

clairvoyant space taker

vanishing through, into

a covenant-keeping once

impenetrable wall.


(monk in service to a stream)


Part 5


Grace, grounding

in the mist-wrapped shelter

blooming in unison

with perfect stance and form,

killing my individuality to make

a stronger whole.

Orange bright red flare of robes,

sounds of marrow spine resonance,

stillness in speed, visible energy,

rolling, turning, flattening the air

from inner pressure – sealed, smoothed,

kneeling by a stream.


This kind of power accessed, focused

removed from ego and uniqueness.

Finding peace in discipline, saving beauty

in spiritual structure – every moment counted for,

every thought overseen and filtered through

for further simplicity. Clarity enforced

in the great dream of camaraderie,

in the common goal of God-mind, balancing

force with receiving,

honouring with accountability, weaned off

of the still swelling teat of desire, living far off 

on an isolated high plane, holding heaven

in a tea cup, celestial gardens in a rice bowl,

learning to blend mastery with discipleship.


daily striving for perfection in the body’s movements,

daily failing, giving it back, committed

to this pulsar event – filling up, choosing ‘yes’,

then willfully deflating, releasing the hold.


Part 6


This hand

split from the source

but not fully detached,

forking downward into

a vast otherness, depending on,

giving honor to the root, to the means to

keep nourished and whole.


Gently submerging in a stream,

entering an alternate atmosphere where

minnows school and scatter

and micro-organisms build communities,

interactive bio-worlds, unaware of the invading limb,

fingers, looping in erratic rhythm, glorifying in

the soft texture shadow, moving through with

easily overcome resistance,

encapsulated in the water-body,

entering, exploring without destruction.


This hand,

only feeling like it has gone somewhere

when removed, wet, knowing it has been

where oxygen is heavy,

where the rich showering moon gravity

has more say, greater mobility then it does in air.

Crossing dimensions without disruption

or impact, here holding stillness,

inside of, open to a passive discovery, then lifted,

hovering over the surface, dripping back into the stream,

gaining rich skin ridges, enhanced sensitivity, at last,

visible saturation.


Part 7


Guardian of the small water

flowing – pebbles lining

the edge, shaved head resting

on the ground.


Loneliness widened in those few everyday hours,

listening to what went on deep below the surface

of the stream, honing in on frolicking fish,

predatory fish and the cycle voice

groaning, never withholding its display of extremes.


I closed my eyes and dreamt I held two shoulders tight

between two arms, wrapped myself naked around another.

That longing lingered well past sleep, as I rose, it rose up in me

a discontent, birthed a being, a pulse beneath my calculated fold,

thundering through my well-kept peace, brought me closer to looking,

looking at those fish, seeing a richer kinship in their company.

As I looked, that loneliness quickened in its demands, buzzed louder

than concentrated contemplation or a prayer.


There was no apology left to play out, not here

in this place, on this isolated rift on a mountain, not

when other beings moved in a more intimate connection,

tied to the vine and the sun and the fish

copulated, gave birth to eggs that transformed. I could hear

their chattering, bubble blowing and their unquestioned

communion – each tiny one crowned perfect, even when

left half-eaten, perishing on the bank.


I drew back from my commitments but did not leave,

simply waited and held the promise of you in my dreams.

In waiting, I sent a call out to you, finding transportation

through the drumming chant, into distances beyond my bent knees

and the gleam of my weapons


over cliffs and villages and oceans I told you

to meet me the next timeover, choose

this place, choose that harsh violence of a home

and I would choose mine, not far

but far enough from each other so when we finally met

we would be mostly cultivated and hurting enough

to give credence to each other’s importance.


While I waited, I tasted your flesh in each grain of rice,

rolled it down my tongue like solid nectar, digesting it,

I kept up my call, told the stream to take it downwards too.

In silence I kept my secret, broke the machine, and betrayed my brothers.


I had no choice but to tend to this flame, press my hip bones

against yours in the other space that started small by the stream,

gained dimension and lengthened on the inside, stretching

to bare-toes, to fleshy ear-lobes, flame

that circled my bones like a hungering bird,

broke them into pieces and swallowed them,

glittering, gleaming hot in this longing, still

a stone on the outside, dutiful while I waited,

letting that flame infiltrate my organs, veins, larynx.


I loved you absolutely, in the wild intake outtake breath.

I ate as always in slow movements, with one hand, eating,

the other, ripening, building in heat,

calling out, preparing for our wedded harvest.


Part 8


Standing on a petal crust, ground

by a stream, sinking into wet earth

where fish corpses lie buried,

surrounded by minerals and mountain stones.


Sinking as the sun arrives

and my heart seizes but is not afraid of

drowning in this damp graveyard,

knows it is a sacred blessing to be called

to dive into the underground

where light and water still reign,

knows it is pulled, plucked and twisted but

will return to form through a flexible core,

elasticity intact, inner elements uncompromised.


Going down further

merging shoulders and neck, readying to breathe in

the divinity ground, harbinger

of worms, death and thin bones, keeper of

the Lazarus resurrection


and the sun seeps into my parted lips

as does the soil. I close my eyes

sinking, unable to hold air or hearing.


Honoured to offer it my flesh and my singing bowl,

I am covered in this stream-infused ground of a shroud,

vessel-body overtaken, vacated and then transmuting,

dissipating, ready to feed the root, be healed,

find you again, and in loving you,

be equal, irretrievably joined, boundless together,

opened, never closing, owned.


Allison Grayhurst © 2017

Long bio: Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three of her poems have been nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, and she has over 1,000 poems published in more than 410 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published twelve other books of poetry and seven 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
Short bio: Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1,000 poems published in over 410 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com   
            Some of the places my work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; The Brooklyn Voice; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine, The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.