Thumb across the surface —
So many ways to die and be re-born,
from a limited source of malleable
weight and density.
On a hilltop, swinging, over and back
from an edge — crashing water below,
beat-up concrete blocks,
dead fish polluting the shore.
I dreamt of owning wings like everyone else has, but
I never was an eagle or angel, I never had a name
for the sacred space in the early morning,
floating around through changing
nightmares more solid than when asleep, sometimes
immaculate colours, touching with my tongue
the sensations of a song,
notes rising like shields, urgency,
Still secret and still cultivating,
thumb pressing into the surface,
forming shadow, a mound of awakening flesh.
Ritual of communion, discovery as
rich and wide as lovemaking, watching
for a trace of motivation to ignite
my waning discipline, swinging high
to land in the waves when I jump,
high enough when I jump
to out-maneuver the rising pile of rubble, to land
with ability, moving under the surface.
Bound to arrive,
face the mourning,
cradle its soft hand in mine.
Memory of a possibility, memory a failure
to cherish as an infant’s plump cheek —
smelling perfect as heaven must smell
or a lover after a dive in the lake, laughing
Bound to pace the carpeted floors, trapped
in a time-fold that repeats and never lets up,
reminders in the ceramic jar, in the dirty fridge,
in songs I hear and in ones I don’t but could
challenge to be born. Reminders on the upper level,
beds unmade, books askew on shelves. Reminders
of dreams that swarmed my mind, ethereal touches,
Bound to lay out the truth
like a cooked meal, consume it
and clean up the dishes. Alone
unheard like before, but worse now
that doors have been opened and entered.
It doesn’t feel right, doesn’t feel like peace or
a place to make a home.
Bound to hold the breath of dread
like small marble in the pocket below
my navel, or just above. Rolling,
rolling, giving way to its movement
when no one else is around, giving
honour to its creation.
Hands, tucked under head,
supporting the weight of so much
Stomach, a flat curve,
bones and muscles perfectly
Sleeping, no one would know
his timeless howl, his long
wait in grief’s unrelenting realm,
his requiem fire, or spirit
that outdoes the marvel
Quiet, he finds
no peace on the pavement of this town,
he holds solitude sacred and feels
each soul’s whisper as an unnursable cry.
He breaks all habit with his horn
of piercing mercy.
He, so still, even birds
hold their song to watch
his placid breathing.
The Foliage of Our Music
Near the shut lives of people
who love intangible,
who hide within the spell of seasonal spirituality,
you are the all that intoxicates my hunger,
summons my vision beyond
its threshold, takes my hand amidst
the tyranny of worldly demands and loves
me through my weeping — your body happy
to receive me, to blanket me with touch. Your hair
and belly and your thin bones
that carry such a restless warmth that
only sharpens each day with charm and insight.
No one desires like you the forgotten passions,
reads to me the marrow from books and dances
with mad laughter when seeing the solemn
horrors of most daily deeds.
No one grows so weighted with sorrow,
so beautified by empathy as you when tracing
the footsteps of the oppressed, visiting
each broken with a dense compassion
that embraces all as your equal.
Haggard hope between us
to avenge the space that splits
our love with petty differences.
I spend no delight but dread
the thorny flame of loneliness, of
loving again a lesser love, looking
into some appealing eyes that are not
your eyes nor know the things
of your kind wisdom.
Upstream, across the stream
to the bottom, it could have been
done, if the stars were aligned and
the temperature poignant enough
to boil over and reveal
the full of its power. It could have toppled
security measures, unified its truth
with popular culture if the apex had been
achieved and the ceiling cracked to cave in and
collide the sky in conjunction with the ground.
It could still gallop, unbridled
through the neighboring streets and then out, across
boarders. Unlike the delusions
that dripped over the tub, keeping
us awake all night, flooding toenails and ankles, crossing
over miles to vaporize in the first warm breeze, it is stronger.
Stronger than any ego-charm, continuing its supremacy,
aching, as it clears the deck
of the frivolous and the unnecessary.
It could still be seen as enormous
as it is — breath-gasping, far-reaching,
a hot glowing hut
of mystical enterprise.
Take it down, every inch, scatter it
among the needy. Feed it as crackers
without spread, for its
nature is substance and its time
is a slow forming tornado,
gaining friction, gaining on destiny.
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 850 poems published in more than 380 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.
Photo on main page: George Kavanagh