into a dumpling.
I sit on the bottom floor
of a blessing
before it builds and blooms,
before its face has distinction,
expression, perfect individuality.
Low ache of forming,
wandering cold plains, over icy lakes
through dead forests and caves.
platelets connecting, composing
a singular solid substance. Then
out of the egg and into the vast ocean,
forward, shell collapsing, imploding, out
a fully sufficient infant form.
Darkness heavy as a hunter’s
footsteps, as a sermon
up the sleeve, offered like
a ripe strawberry covered in ants.
Darkness like the green
on a last slice of bread
or the dome of pollution that mutes
Earth from the zodiac hymns.
Darkness that binds
thumbtacks to the temples,
smokes weed everyday through
a mousehole piece of glass,
dirty as a campfire after the fire
or a marriage after infidelity.
Darkness as a shell, hardness
masquerading as strength, terrors
of complexities, moral confusion
and the allotment of grief that mushrooms
in tiny pockets here, here, until all greenery
is overcome with fungi and poisonous fruit.
Darkness that says
‘I have a right, for my heart is broken
more than any other heart has been broken, and then
there is the boredom!’
Darkness that holds no peace, no joy in just breathing,
makes up myths and ceremonies to blast out
the darkness, flaking at the core.
Darkness I am done with your engulfing disease,
your canopy wings, trickery, making me believe
there is rest and safety in your shade.
I lay down my fossils and my weeping.
Darkness sticks out its tongue,
builds idols and wins the air.
Darkness, I blow you over
and when I am blown over,
I will offer no resistance.
Violet-hue star of mighty purity,
a fixed point, directly overhead, anointing,
a release from the symbiotic purgatory-fold,
from the loop fire enduring coil
and the billowing dead land once before me.
I will build a bonfire and dance
under this eight-billion-year-old star,
no longer held hostage by what I know,
inevitable observations, time turned to stone,
locked in one position, dammed to have no meaning,
no longer trapped in a rippling tremble, continuous
and static state.
I will lean into this bright gathering,
translating the bursting floral mastery
of endless constellations, keeping my height,
keeping my mind, ready to engage
in a divine exchange, discourse.
The declaration came,
to every aspect of my nature.
At stake is the stability
of my core symbolism, the root
and the fruit combined.
What matters is this day
to walk the wooden floors,
replenish my joy
in the simple things of duty and care,
opening to the embrace
of alternate thought patterns,
pursuing the paradox,
digging out its core for a braver scenario
to catch and be malleable with, kneading
and knowing the vision will form,
overtake and dissolve superfluous
dreams and attachments until it
pulses like an embryo
forming, being formed
I saw a fish in sleep
beneath a curly wave
dreaming in a prophet-trance,
its lips and fins relaxed, no resistance
against the water’s sway.
Some say the fish was dead,
but I could see its eyes enflamed,
travelling deep in a vision unnamed into
crevices of underwater caves, finding
peace in a pitch-black reverie.
I cupped that fish inside my hand
and still it did not move, continuing its
placid ephemeral journey,
now journeying into the sky,
able to breathe, transitioning
into flight and becoming intimate
with the sun’s heat like never before.
That fish was so far gone
into a state of transcendence as
I released it back into its salty wet home,
kissing it forehead first.
I felt it absorb my love
under its scales, floating away from me,
silver and white.
Tranquil, in steady rapture,
I watched it vanish as it rolled
across and under the oceans’ blanket,
as though it never was.
The chain is cracked, only
a small tug will break it
and the wall will let down its curtain,
the leech will release its hold, find
a new host or none at all.
I empty my heat on the bed
toss with disorder, too slow on my feet.
But even so, I am carving a future
I can get behind, lift myself onto a plateau
that has many plateaus above it, sure of my growing
strength. It is possible to keep my internal
promises, not like before when the dirty current
rippled through me like a disease,
my substance and storages.
Can I say the chain is rusted,
dissolving, no access
to its binding power?
I go for walks. I am grateful
for the open door, one step
The child twists a ringlet,
runs to the shops to buy
candy, rides her bike
by the river and assembles
a dream-world, bigger world
than her whole reality.
The child found worship in her heart
for God and love
for an infant raccoon alone under a tree,
talked to herself incessantly, and often,
she talked to God, and to his son, Jesus.
She went to school, but chalked it up
to unimportant servitude, felt joyful
and free, plucking the autumn leaves,
engaging with the neighbour’s dog.
The child was wild, swinging
from willow branches, throwing stones,
skipping stones, toes always at the edge
of the unsettled river.
Cats were her guardians, confidants and kin.
Church was boredom, except for the one place
where the light was let in, that place
took over her full imagination
as she travelled through and into
an instinctual reverie.
The child loved her family,
was allowed every independence,
was ostracized by the other children
for her crocheted clothes and the colour
of her flaming hair. Some called her witch,
others, an atrocity, and the grown-ups, beautiful.
The child rode horses when she got older,
wrote down the songs of clouds and the names of
the crows that would follow her, converse with her
from the school bus window.
The child found her belonging in her own head,
with the animals, and sometimes, she remembers,
walking silently, holding the hand of a great angel.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for Best of the Net, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry, 12 collections and 6 chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.
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 entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 2017.
Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); SUFI Journal (Featured Poet in Issue #95, Sacred Space); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; Buddhist Poetry Review; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; 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; Existere; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.