(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
Allison Grayhurst (b. 1966) is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net,” she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay. She can be contacted through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There, the cement
is broken by a heavy fall,
ants make their way in,
dig tunnels, weeds sprout up
and birds land.
Beginnings are ugly, born out of death,
harsh endings and spoonfuls of stone and flame.
Even the perfect, soft, love-filled endings
are brutal in their permanence.
I drown in the shallow stream.
I make music in the desert.
I touch the worms of my thoughts,
wagging and whipping up the smooth level below.
Do you know how much I miss you -
the light in your dark special eyes,
the light that seeped into and saturated
wherever you went, and the natural love
pooling around your small body,
extending into the corners of this house,
upstairs, down basement stairs,
all the empty places?
Cry out -
the light is golden,
simple, with no secrets,
no detours of conniving depths
to trap the soul in a maze made of concrete
where no seed can root or sprout.
What was promised was always
the light, needed only
to be believed to be true.
Mortal spinal cords
and hopes that press like
the edge of a sword against
your soft belly.
Mortal light that gets
turned off and on again
by a switch or a changing season
is not the light of blanketing glory,
is not mercy in the pit.
Take this point in the fault line,
stand on it as it splits the crust
and everything below.
Here the light grows
like words inked on your skin,
cutting into the meet of your organs
it is light like no brightness you have every known,
a golden penetrating, undiluted glow.
3. The Final Despair
Reaching the madness of failure
plugged like a mouth stuffed
with a sponge, unable to express
the agony experienced with a outward scream -
curved under pressure to turn in the direction back,
circular damnation. Gifts of grace,
pillaged and gone up in smoke.
A child’s every breath was my breath,
joy as yellow as the sun - years of happiness
that meant love was working, that the
mutilated and hanging seekers
had nothing up their sleeves to defeat such truth.
my heart is small, barely beating, goggles fill
with salt water, hair goes grey and loses its soft lustre.
My horse is burning,
racing the fields, tail on fire.
My hopes are maimed,
crushed by senselessness,
helplessness and the feeling
that O - there must be switch,
if I could just find it and lift and set
things aright. But my prayers
billow into the air, head for the abyss.
I doubt everything and bottom out
in that emptiness, moving mechanical,
tethered to a trusted routine,
happy only in the peace
of a morning’s solitude.
I see the spider dance, smoke
dancing on the edge of a scream.
I am that spider
dancing as I continue downstream.
Can I be a tree or a curvy vine?
Can I grow a cloud or just one
Fated to be broken like all else
living on the Earth, soiled, striving, but always incomplete.
Can I trust enough to win back my soul?
Be immersed in the fog and still know the way?
My keeper, my mid-summer garden,
the bull shark is coming with the encroaching wave,
swimming will not be enough, not a floaty, not a raft
will stave off its violent power.
I will need something larger to fit on, something absolute
to cull this danger, an island on its own, a hand,
blessed and strong to raise me from the inevitable grave.
Your love is all I have ever known
when I know love. Pick me up with the rest of
the laundry you plan to clean - make light work of me,
set me down folded, refreshed,
ready to be worn. I am prepared to live
and I don’t want to die
like a rusted vent, my metal
slowly corroding, crumbling until I am left without
grace, usefulness or substance. I don’t want to walk
into the darkness again - the hollow of all hollows,
wailing with pain and rage and nakedness
in the burning coal fires.
I am your child. I am your sparrow, please
open the cage-latch, cup me as your own -
then let me go, and my freedom
will give you joy, will give you glory.
5. End of the Line
Consumed like a passion
that exceeds its limited energy,
like a sorrow when anger
gets a foothold.
My anger tightens, incapable
of finding culmination or the subsiding
soothing aftermath of shame or reason.
The ulcer builds, a void of senselessness
that consumes, creates
an acidic bile hole that leaks nutrients.
Around the circle, banishment from joy,
movement, the scattering of seeds.
Through the circle, a chance to develop,
foster trust in the poetic goodness presenting,
to rest my head, release the rage, the futile struggle
and devote my intelligence to examining this foreign peace.
Utterly the ladder is demolished.
I cannot climb without it
or travel the same path, going around.
I will not withstand being tethered again
to such a savage unrelenting foe,
wearing this false face
fated to merge with and shadow