The fault of sages

Love was there

spreading hope like jam over my taste buds.

Then the first skipping rope broke,

got snared on a fence and frayed.

I stole away on a subway train where

hundreds have gone walking into a warzone.

Amen to the end and the predator’s

happy-go-lucky disposition. One claw,

one tentacle, in flowing precise motion.

Another lifetime and it may be different,

tender as lovers beneath their first full moon,

or worse, like cartilage deteriorating.

I rehearsed a familiar pattern,

sabotaging memories to find a way to be holy,

to make only God matter, dismantling adult days

of calculation, days of stultifying impulses,

of consciously unplugging the push of inspiration.

I flicked the splinter and loosened its stem, learning

that every homecoming is different – some shed

their most treasured members, others,

an accommodating persona. Still others constrict

just to pitch thought and become a pulse.

Love I lifted like a heavy stone,

trying to grow flowers between sparrows’ toes

where they nested and puffed up under eavestroughs,

trying to weave myself an escape in the shade,

a carpet to lie back on.


Solutions were bare,

offered crossword puzzle satisfaction

but no retreat from passengers staring

and the continuous stab of uncertainty.


Templates I now break and breathe and blow all away

into the sandalwood spring, into the eyes of my dog.

Stiff joints lend themselves to patience,

planting wings in my palm – empty spaces finally

accepted. Shadows I see take on a life of their own

and keep dancing. God I see in the sloping deformity

of all steps climbed, treacherously taken, born whole

from parallel paths of lack and yearning.


plunging into a chilled lake, muscles arrested, infinity found

Flawless sheen in a ladybug’s eyes.

Elephants chain-footed, castrated at the core

without tether or lead. Burning wood.

Dead fish rocking, cold on the fisherman’s hook,

hamster in a toilet paper roll, rolling.

It is heavy, this voice you grow outside of me,


this voice I cannot mistake for imagination.


I wake up, examine the leaves, fold dishtowels,

clean counters, feed my children,

no water to cool my fevering wrists,

no nourishment of a practical nature,


occupying no worthier devotion.

A pillaging, reflection of

a doorway. Chimes have lost

their meaning a quarter-of-a-century ago

when they chimed in a make-shift Japanese garden,

where lifetimes remembered were gumballs pocketed,

to be taken out at leisure, savoured over, replayed, role-played

then returned to compartmentalized pleasure.

Lips move across hairlines,

back-of-the-neck lines, dry from quick breaths,

building beyond capacity, unforgiving with controlled intent.

Waiting to be snatched


without hesitation, tasted like a ripe blueberry,


not to be a modern atheist, pruned of pure intensity,


but to be fresh as a baby’s full-body smile,

cover my calendar with satyr faith flowing,
live with dolphins, participate in a kinder society

where the privileged and pickpockets have no play,

go on a pilgrimage, take my family, disappear

on a cold high mountain, watch animals

give birth and die.

Urgency escapes me,

months merge, asking nothing in return,

pulsing a diluted vibrancy, no more

as bread or fire.

Swing from a crane

or a swinging crane in a storm.

Indulgences dig as glass into exposed roots.

Ambitious notes fail, will always fail

before a greater sun.


The rhythms of sleep on the bed,
heavy as a grieving eye
are found formed together
in open conversation.
We believed in the living word,
wild with inspiration. And drowning,
we still believe as we wade in these
bad feelings and a difficult disease.
There could be a swift rescue.
There could be captivity,
but the plan of God is greater
than this inept inheritance.
Constellations, I know nothing of.
But I know the countryside, and I know
a family of the deepest purity.


Speak to me of mercy

when the world is under my chin

and my body is stiff with fear and stagnation

Speak to me of love,

of forgiving my careless indulgences,

of holding my hand as I tightrope walk over this cliff

Speak to me of staying with me

of comforting my tears, of miracles I don’t deserve

but need, but pray for to ease this inferno

of anxiety

Speak to me of knowing me and not condemning

my childish cravings

Speak to me in spite of my mortal foibles,

my sins of lesser greed and my hope of a better


Speak to me of mercy,

wash me clean in your light,

take my heart and make it new.

The Permanent Matter

It does not matter –

lessons learned, reason

unravelled and understood.

It doesn’t matter –

ceremonies of release, truth

that holds the key to the golden “moving on.”

It doesn’t matter when the heart

is stuck in the afterflow of dead dreams and

the fire at the window

(that compressed all longing into one single flame),

is still the fire at the window, burning galleries of scorch marks

across new and sacred hopes.

It doesn’t matter – making up one’s mind to be free,

building a pond that holds the perfect fish (the zen fish) –

tranquility and gratitude mixed in easeful equilibrium – watching

the movement but still discordant,

missing something that refuses decay or fruition, missing

the deep breath of peace, the faith that all is as it should be

and to never know how long, how long

it will take before anything ever again


            Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 550 poems published in more than 275 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published eleven 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 in December 2012. More recently, her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;