Surrogate Dharma


Surrogate Dharma


I didn’t think I would get lost

or be chained to a contractual victory.

I thought a grain would grow,

become a solid garden. Fires would come, then

firefighters. I would be testifying about

the worth of what survived.

    That is not what happened. I fell prey

to the propaganda of affirmations,

to the volume of control I could contain.

My dream dropped out of me

like a miscarriage. I hoped I could forget:

Tie my shoes, zip up a coat

and kiss the shelter I have. Bridges here and there –

they are not mine to travel.

Vinegar keeps getting injected into my bones,

replacing the marrow with

its potent clarity. Do you see? I am getting older.

It will be over

and I have to be able to say I served well.

My mouth opens and folds like a fledgling wing.

People pass – each one a violin note, a digit, a reluctant

panting pitch. Conversations are ash.

I don’t like living in these elements, my neck

stretched up into the dense middle

of a monsoon. Let me climb,

dragging this dead beast behind me.

Let me live where my father went to school,

on a Himalayan peak.

I am not a petal. My courage is fickle, it fortifies or fades,

dependent each day on mutual obligatory infatuation.

    I can’t keep pretending:

The sun is strong. The night is strong. I am not stronger.

    I am in this hovel with my lamp, tasting metal

of varying textures –

rusted, gold, and other star-erupted symbols –

greeting obscurity, broken toenails

I can’t be bothered to trim. How many rooms, my God?

How much waiting and walking, and the fish?

I could be a fish. Make me

one of those – sliding about, weaving with one full-body stroke

through a lush intricate terrain, mastering

a juicy undergrowth.



Copyright © 2012 by Allison Grayhurst



First published in “Surrogate Dharma” e-chapbook Kind of a Hurricane Press

Surrogate Dharma chapbook 1

Surrogate Dharma chapbook 29Surrogate Dharma chapbook 2


You can listen to the poem by clicking below:


“Allison Grayhurst intertwines a potent spirituality throughout her work so that each poem is not simply a statement or observation, but a revelation that demands the reader’s personal involvement. Grayhurst’s poetic genius is profound and evident. Her voice is uniquely authentic, undeniable in its dignified vulnerability as it is in its significance,” Kyp Harness, singer/songwriter, author.

“Allison Grayhurst’s poems are like cathedrals witnessing and articulating in unflinching graphic detail the gritty angst and grief of life, while taking it to rare clarity, calm and comfort. Grayhurst’s work is haunting, majestic and cleansing, often leaving one breathless in the wake of its intelligence, hope, faith and love amidst the muck of life. Many of Allison Grayhurst’s poems are simply masterpieces. Grayhurst’s poetry is a lighthouse of intelligent honour… indeed, intelligence rips through her work like white water,” Taylor Jane Green, Registered Spiritual Psychotherapist and author.


Book reviews of the River is Blind paperback:

“Throughout (The River is Blind), she (Allison Grayhurst) employs  reiterated tropes of swallowing and being consumed, spatial fullness and emptiness, shut- in, caverns, chasms, cavities; angels, archangels, 
blasphemy, psalms; satiation or starved. With a conceit of unrequited sex as “my desire”, nocturnal emissions, awakening in the morning, the poet lives at capacity, uninhibited, dancing,” Anne Burke, poet, regional representative for Alberta on the League of Canadian Poets’ Council, and chair of the Feminist Caucus.

“Allison’s poetic prose is insightful, enwrapping, illuminating and brutally truthful. It probes the nature of the human spirit, relationships, spirituality and God. It is sung as the clearest song is sung within a cathedral by choir. It is whispered as faintly as a heartbroken goodbye. It is alive with the life of a thousand birds in flight within the first glint of morning sun. It is as solemn as the sad-sung ballad of a noble death. Read at your peril. You will never look at this world in quite the same way again. Your eye will instinctively search the sky for eagles and scan the dark earth for the slightest movement of smallest ant, your heart will reach for tall mountains, bathe in the most intimate of passions and in the grain and grit of our earth. Such is Allison Grayhurst. Such is her poetry. THE RIVER IS BLIND is a must-read,”  Eric M. Vogt, poet and author.

“One of the best contemporary poetry books I have read and my favorite by Allison Grayhurst. I have this (The River is Blind) in paperback and find I come back to it often. I am very impressed that her poetry just oozes quality and in all ways gets my mind thinking. If you read poetry I highly recommend it, if you also write this is a great way to spend a couple of hours soaking in the quality and subject matters. The poems are spiritual and uplifting and I have never found any of her poems to be dull or depressing nor ever too hard to read. More life affirming each time I read one and I am always glad to have done so,” Bruce Ruston, poet, photographer, founding editor of The Poetry Jar.



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