photo (5)

Dual forming on slopes of darker minds. 

Succulent nodes of effervescent whispers,

whispering Oh! Blood clots bending

in unison to sharp solstices.


Dig and reap tomorrow’s regrets,

piled on like love you thought was comfortable. 


Comfort is a guard you let loose,

let down and found judgments –

platters to be served and roasted upon.


Singing for sale. A number left to a key. Fickle

verdicts oscillating between indifference and approval.

Release and acceptance – what else is there?

I am only unhappy when I want what isn’t.


Platypus cans of tonic – drink down, flushing

through organs. I see orange. Orange buses,

orange lines of direction on the road, in homes

where anger is held at stillpoint. One point

on a curve. I have lost my feathers,

all means of flight. There is nothing left

but hunger for the skyspace, outerspace, space

where I once travelled through meteor fields,

ballooning over planets’ edges like a seamstress,

owning it all before I got grounded, committed

to personal love and the necessity of graves.


Why did I come here? To cry for my loved ones,

hold vigil for the slaughtered pigs?

Centuries that just were, lingering, licking

on waves of vastness, licking dark matter like a candy cane.

Not a soul, but the planets vibrating their orchestra – deep,

varying at intervals, then again, and never changing.

God, what am I doing in the sunlight – on the sidewalks,

making room for children on bicycles?

Putting pressure on my shoulders so I cannot sleep,

cannot appease this malcontent.

Why did I leave – to connect with misplaced animals?

Babies only born? Looking for union when before

I thought myself whole?


Material made from the moon. I understand

the beauty of caves, the great sea turtle’s solitary plight…

but more and more – I never wanted more than you

again inside of me – infinity in corporeal form.


God separates to know Itself. God is only what we give,

awakening as we do to warmth and kindness – choices

under the wrap of gravity and yet, somehow,

lifted into altruism.




Smudges, under siege, patches of calcified tissue

and the swamp I enter in – fuming with failed love –

connections broken under the Buddha fire. Detachment

will not save me – nailed to the pavement stone, looking at birds.


Summer where have you gone? Smells rise to meet me,

and the air is still humid, pressing on my cortex,

corrupting my ability to choose joy.

Grasshoppers hopping. Will my heart be broken?

Again, again, squeezing, squished

fermenting at the sides, foaming and fizzling, burning sage, but

it is not good enough, not enough to teach me the strokes

or how to steady the raging chaos gestating large

in the pocket of my throat. Continents on fire, inside organs necessary

to function – why the children? Why not me?


Livingroom-light-globe like a crystal ball,

opaque but powerful enough to predict possibilities.

I was never here before, never heard the angry rodents

vocalize, never slept with aching joints, dreams

of running low and ferns and moss

covering Zen-garden displays.

What else are we going to do here, but procreate, create,

dissipate and die? Van doors left open.

Lawn chairs on the road for pickup.

The windmill, the tilting tops of trees, heavy

with clusters of fresh pinecones.

I am an orange peel, orange, peeled, drying

next to the sewer grate.

I am limp with the weight, the burden of random happenings. Always

I love you and always, I am breathing.

Take me into the arms of your protection.

I don’t want another day.

Mass of thick porous grey hovering, no space for hope.

Why the children? Couldn’t you spare just them and all

the up-for slaughter animals?

I am done with this place, the tripping curb,

callous indifference – the rippling consequences

of blind destruction.




Piercing, lingering, chiming out a hymn, lullaby on a chain.

Remorse to wade in like a sea-salt bath, absorbing

the past into the present cellular flow.

Mounds of construction sand, building and restoring roots

without life, chopped down at surface level.

Ideologies fuel, then turned to cinder by anger –

justified violence that violates the laws of love.


Skittering up stairs, the last time I held a leaf I held

your focused form, unable to stay the distance,

but stayed nonetheless near rudimentary desires.


I am cut like a lawn, smooth as carpet. See me now,

skateboarding, jettisoning over humps and bridges.

The wind – position me inside your storm. The last time,

strength enlisted an empty street – such vines

and beautiful stones!

Mercy in a crack, a masterpiece of twin creation,

outside art galleries – living wood, sleeping shapes,

inviting holes… holy as sex, sweet hands entwined.


Release into me as I release into you,

in mutual receptivity, clear direction, directing energy.

Dew drops evaporating, shining.

Our masthead – brittle, breaking. Even so,

how we are combined! Such glow.

It is glorious to know you like this

and not be afraid.




Laid low, laid out like soulmates never meant to meet

in this life, in the spectrum of folly and limitation.

A painting layered, re-mastered, re-mused and then,

burned by neglect.

Miniature moment of perfection, condensed

to hold a legacy in swirling matter, hard and glittering.

Fractures as long as a walkway

stretching the borders of a great body of water.


Stringing thoughts like a child’s dream. I know,

but I’ve learned not to take synchronicity so seriously,

learned there is only choice, and chance caved into,

selected to stand as fate – the end result, resulting

in a theory of complexities and open systems.


Stuck in the ground, protruding stilted like a statute.

Tell me it is true, that nothing pure is subjected to disease.

Crickets in the late morning.

When I am fixated, it is fantasy, false as poison in soup.

When I am lucid, liquid budding, my fingers are flames,

and all that they contact pulse with their heat.


Various clouds like currents perpetually pumping –

financial lack, and I, myself, curled up on the bottom stair.

Beds I defend, determined to lay in, over and over

hurting for considered crimes. Erasing perimeters, I clutch

at fraudulent mercies, securities of working furnaces

and washed hair. How to love damaged flesh, radiate love

for what is broken, far beyond romanticism, dangerous

as a cockroach and forever mutating –

translucent shells and pores – radioactive

and growing more grotesque under slabs of rotten wood?

Love, I do not understand you as I am older

and keeping up the climb. Medications and

broken down dishwashers.

Debt like ghosts that stick to my aura, smothering out the colour –

Oh weedy garden! Sparrow on my roof, talk to me for a while.

How can I love, middle-aged, half over, clear

of a younger person’s hope and indecision?

Pointing at ecstasy (a snail on my forehead) pointing,

pointing, stung.




Light that drips down the turnpike, onto roads

and ways far away from any window.

Blocks to build shelters and shields. Flags on flimsy poles.

A neutral breeze busting cardoors and

personalized licence plates.

Paved over, I see a carcass dripping, a little yellow flower,

smaller than a thumbprint.

Rust-coloured shawl, poncho that holds

great sentimental significance holds

me to a memory, old now as a ten-year-old untended garden

or pavement cracks grown into fissures.


Forging, face-like an image. Worm in my sink.

Blood and cup of nutritional joy.

Hold out for the grace of good music

and drying on rocks, nude in the sun.

Quiet heat building up into renewal. Tattered ankle cuffs

and shrinking shadows, mid-stream. Up,

up we go, insistent on making an impression.

But walk lightly is all I’ll ever learn, spoon-feeding the children.

I bloom and I will die a woman, a butcher of frivolity

and the natural sequence of things.

The day is one day – enough, taken

into its rolling waters,

a dog’s dream to join in, frolic in

some other species’ symbolism.




Come upon me like a feather-stick –

sectioning my abdomen like a fruit. Suddenly

toddlers are conversing and the grey cat

takes in the morning. Bundle of weeds,

bundle of flowers. An opening

under the burning canopy. Lifetimes spent

collecting synergy, male rhythms and fixed lines.

God is coming down to hide in your loose-change-pocket.

I dreamt of owning your praise. Swinging from the rafters

in a game of hide-and-seek, I sought your breath,

hand of destined chores.

I played along inside the circle, inside a sack

I could hardly breathe out of. Languishing. A round bruise

forming on my left arm. Place me here. Crown me

or stake me on a tall spike. I am sand thrown mid-air.

No place to collect and land, not even a wave, a bucket,

the forelock of a horse. Not even

thinking in a straight continuation, but there, there, a pebble

between paw pads, then, a minor note locked

in perpetual repetition.




Underguard. Crumbled tissue in my mouth.

A crazy way to run – hands in pockets.

Forward without, undeterred by reality.

Plywood I am keeping for emergencies,

for days when putting on the brakes just won’t suffice.

Speeding, retreating, torsos twisting beautifully in anticipation.


I used to make mortar by hand, no machine to ease

my impossible labor – brick carrying and scaffolding climbing

and voices that ceased for a while in my head, visions

foiled by exhaustion – overused and folding.


Injuries are bypassed for much larger connections.

Double-winged, it is all that counts, to be counted

like lightening, glazed like tile

and ancient bones kept as keep-sakes,

never a participant in trivial bickering or

watered-downed by petty grievances and

conditioned responses.


Sometimes I think of dying.

I think of the unread newspaper that stays folded,

wrapped in an elastic band.

I think of a broken bird making broken bird sounds,

too broken to be saved, treated by most

as a mild inconvenience

to be walked around and grimaced at.

Except by the man with the warm dark eyes, soft

furrowed brow, and a child who will not forget those mangled

wings or the hard lesson of helplessness, the inability to heal

or to be a vessel for a miracle.


It is hard to love me. I am hard, uncompromising

and never still. I am needing intimacy at every turn,

needing space to brood and build my solitary house.

I miss no one I’ve lost except the dead – a parent,

many animals that once shared my life. I am not easy, not

easygoing – bloodletting, bloodtesting, phone calls

avoided, coiled, almost mad and never understanding.


Sex and perfect reciprocation. Hands that know more

than words, keeping in the margins, layering synergy energy

into peaks and mounds, like mountains and fractal heartbeats,

fearless of falling, or of clouds. You and I,

it has to be our reward for not selling out, not

building cages of adult-overload, for constantly

clearing room for any divine equation no matter

how it threatens our already-precarious security.

We love our children, but not like others love.

We are less of this place, more reliant on grace

than our own worldly ingenuity to keep food

on the table, the bathroom fixed and cleaned.

Dear Jesus,

are you still mine, and I, yours? It is a lot to take in, decades and

mouldy walls. I am afraid of going off track,

of being dead and seeing there is no more I can do. That

it is done and inerasable. I am afraid of not feeling

the warmth of your hand when I walk, because

you are always holding my hand and I love you

with a personal love like Kierkegaard did –

his hunchback, a deformity that kept him pure.

And the loneliness.

Knowing you, but never any other.

I am not that alone, but I remember

space, lightyears of carved-out quiet. It enters me often

and I cannot get out of it. Breathing becomes separation,

a tool I must remind myself to use.

Remind me again, demand

my unwavering loyalty, trust, and all.




Paved paths, brisk

storm of senses, an old

opening, endless as a dug-in arrow –

head in the weeping jungle, the coolness

of autumn air brushing tombstones,

the thin necks of geese.

So much night in a single glass, body

and name together, replacing

existence with this inheritance and no other.

Rows of ships crowding the edge of the lake –

docked and bearing down for winter. The distance

grinds, gravel on my belly, cracked shells

in subterranean pages writing down dawns and victories

never experienced, only imagined.

Is it right to receive the bitter strawberry?

Drink its flesh like juice and

kneel before reality’s dictatorship?

Is it clarity? Or forgetting?



Escaping on the brook’s bank,

banking on nesting warm through

winter, but tears are horns that open

soft spaces, and autumn shifts heat and any hopes

for renewal. Love is fire –

from where it goes there are no shields to block

its scorching. Can we reach bottom in the rain?

Sing hosanna at the mountain’s base?


Becoming is the stone, the house, the wave.

The lines between us all are solid, no longer lines but

one heavy blanket of vibrancy, creaking, splitting.


I walk like I walk – barrel beatings,

borrowing crisp notions into my ears.

Stretched for a while to be compact again,

I hear an approaching intrusion, a high

wake, strong enough to travel on.


Stronger days of running through the weeded grass

where rabbits stand still at my passing

and insects move quickly into the shade.

Stranger days of watching a patio stone broken

from a storm – from a fallen tree that fell,

leaving me to find

meaning in such drastic weather.




Many years torn – a leaf, a paper towel,

half around the other side, locked

on the beach of my nadir – discipline

and a cold cruel courage, jammed into a groove.

Just the sunlight on my wall,

warming the wall, penetrating the heavy plaster.


I was born from a stem.

I fit on a chalkboard.

Over the cool half-formed moon

I hear an echo, smell the crisp lunar craters –

stagnant rocks, deep troughs to fuel

a million or more Earth dreams.

Scents of dead matter colliding,

of rough stone and endless rotation,

repetitive atmosphere



Behind a broken bark I hide my vanity,

rushing into quicksand, there I sink.




Ladle, ladder

I lay open under the covers, under

cloaks of heartless yesterdays. My mind

is a string that wraps around the outerscope.

I eat wild flowers, never the lamb,

infused with avoidance, spectacular

acrobats of keeping on, caring little for the outcome.


Blundering displays of over-dramatizing

self-aggrandizement revealing the wound

of stunted spiritual development

and crippled attempts at affection.

Round and happy, unstructured indulgences

justified by plump purse strings.


Falterings. Mistaken formations.

A perfect line in nature existing.

All the days I felt alone are behind me,

gathering leaves, misty-eyed overlooking

my home: kaleidoscope windows coming into view.




Once, gentle. Now, riled and nowhere but where

the stench of sewage is piled on the curb.

The gears of bitter disappointment snatching

you into a feral hold. Exotic tall weeds,

broken at the base.

Friendships are spoiled at the root, even love is

overshadowed by the decay.

Less obligation, less affection, less loyalty.

I must pretend we are healed, but the only healing

that happened was a cauterization of our severed bond.

There is anger but less hurt,

just the motions of getting through

undetected, and me by myself,

always alone –

separate happenings, entities, isolated

aspects merging, but never

whole. White car on the road.

Red car on the road. Silver then

blue. The only place absolute is

the place I left where faith was unnecessary

and all cells were one cell, not like here –

different functions – each dominated by its own survival.

No wonder love is weakened, can only achieve

a temporary claim on completion.

I accidently crush the insect with my heel. It is consumed

by another of its kind, carried off

into the hive of practicality –

a gesture void of remorse or sentimentality.

In the end, there is nothing but wires and fences

and frames of flesh, cartilage and senses. Tomorrow

there will be talk and tea and eyes

locked in intense recognition.

Good for the moment

Good until there comes

the something we want

more of, less of, had enough of….




For a while –

deathcamps, blue balls

baskin’robbins. Play tomorrow

the lute-song of today and remember

the ground-swell

pounding paradise into my brain, collapsing

from overload, reloading fodder

and flighty friendships I’ve lost use for.

Nothing counts, count on nothing but playfighting

over the bank, over the brim – rim – keeper

of the fixer-upper, of the still fire, fire still

as yellowed corpses. Mid-fall.

Fake it! Love! kindness, tenderness – be

polite, because very little is

anything you want to take with you.

Care-giver, carer of the children,

the laundry, pets and bank account.

It is all you are – rainstorm.

You must take this stone and swallow,

make peace with your burden, make love

with the swarming emptiness, stuck

in a gravitational pull,

planets, solar systems spinning around you

but you are heavy, must be,

unfazed by the pressured wind – stains

on the ground. Inside of you, chopped-up bits of fate

and crimes conceived before you

were born. Fake it, wallpaper it. Go on, try, smile





Fresh, potted

bright as an angel. Death is a whip

I put down. Ill health slumber,

but God is my mercy-king. Queen

of loving miracles. I will sing to

keep the right intention and grieve

minimally for what I cannot do.

Little red tree, no higher than

a toddler-child. Disco ball,

ball blue and gold,

twirl for me, let the grey dissipate into your

twinkling glow and all my blood into your veins,

little tree

plump and flourishing, readying for greater heights,

string-stream through me, weave me into your branches,

still firmly on the ground.

Angels everywhere I need your temperance. I need

to know my children are protected by your grace,

wing-spread, and even

your cold white eyes.




Gaze, focus, hold.

Unconscious stream

of raw fluidity streaming,

rising over barriers, drowning them

with the pressure of an open door.

Cracks of circumstantial disease,

creating pockmarks to expand destiny choices, 

fashioning gifts to give,

earned by bomb-droppings

and low flying plane-explosions.

Cobweb parties, graffiti

on the skin of your back,

made with a blade as small and smooth

as the tip of a hawk’s feather.

Weaning off the burnt oak,

preening patches of grime.

Wake and rhyme, garden-keeper,

ambush your fear – it cannot be real!

Lungs run the same vibration as a flame.

It is hard, but not impossible. Gulp the sea

of senseless over-warming, pool the salt-taste

in your mouth, feel it

around your lip-rim, the sides of your cheeks. And there,

be safe, joining with the translucent swimmers, floaters

of prehistoric heritage.





Principles of duty

overtaking sleep like a wave.

Heavy love rooted in isolation,

reflecting the depths of true giving.

A condition turns to disease, restrictions

bare down. What is ordinary becomes like

a cage. Children in the drifting storm, drifting

on condensed-traffic streets, how I love you.

How I would do everything I cannot do to ease

the grip of your elephant shackles. Mine was the angel’s

autonomy, where nothing was miscellaneous and my bed

was a rich blackness that absorbed all time. Mine was loud

without noise or distraction, just the buoyant sparkle flow

of paired-off stars and the countless debris of ongoing creation.

Mine is yours now, inside less-than-working-organs, kidneys

like puzzle pieces, seamed together by an amateur.

Where are you now, God-who-remembers, reminds me

of what I once was? My God and Jesus of the lilies,

why the children? Why this fluke,

this bizarre nightmare crawling, closer,

closer than when I had no body, no loves to look after?

And oh I am tired, worn as an old shoe that must keep

the broken glass at bay. Where are you my God, my Jesus?

I know you are here. I know something, but not enough

to deflate my bloating anxiety. It is grief all over again and I

hide myself in older hands, friendless, unsupported, remembering

the wholeness in every flaw, in the universe’s veined light

I once travelled on. Remembering that what is flawed sparkles

with a unique variation of beauty, rainbow fractions, infractions

that are blessings that seep and saturate sinews

and bones, galaxies

perpetual, renewable

where everything sings useful –

seemingly incongruent, yet in truth, masterfully





 Copyright © 2014 by Allison Grayhurst (poem and images)





(If you would like to read the poem at a different time or at a slower pace, it is also posted as an easily accessible page on the main menu, both on the top of this site and on the sidebar.)


First published in “The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry” Volume 4, Number 1, June Issue 2014







Published in “Art Villa” December 2015

Walkways. A Poem by Allison Grayhurst



You can listen to the whole poem in sixteen parts below:

https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways-1.m4a?_=17 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways22.m4a?_=18 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways-3.m4a?_=19 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways4.m4a?_=20 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways5.m4a?_=21 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways6.m4a?_=22 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways72.m4a?_=23 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways8.m4a?_=24 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways9.m4a?_=25 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways10.m4a?_=26 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways11.m4a?_=27 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways12.m4a?_=28 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways13.m4a?_=29 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways14.m4a?_=30 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways15.m4a?_=31 https://allisongrayhurst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/walkways16.m4a?_=32


In response to the poem – Walkways:

“This is brilliant! Brilliant. Reminds me of when I first read Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”. And I wanted to stand up on the city bus and exclaim aloud: “Listen to this!” A comprehensive capturing of human earthly experience in all its dimensions without missing a beat – beyond the conscious mind – dancing with the levels of our knowing and sensing – that we feel but do not always recognize, and rarely, oh so rarely articulate. Clearly, Grayhurst’s poetic journey has taken her to the mountain top,” Taylor Jane Green,  registered holistic talk therapist and author.


Other quotes:

“Her (Allison Grayhurst’s) poetry appears visceral, not for the faint of heart, and moves forward with a dynamism, with a frenetic pulse. If you seek the truth, the physical blood and bones, then, by all means, open the world into which we were all born,” Anne Burke, poet, regional representative for Alberta on the League of Canadian Poets’ Council, and chair of the Feminist Caucus.

“Toronto poet Allison Grayhurst’s work is a collection of vivid imagery and gripping enjambment that puts the reader in a spiralling world of despair. By using language to express the human conflicts of inner turmoil and the way in which our past burdens interact with the subconscious, the self and the world around us, Grayhurst sculpts poems that are revealing and confessional, as well as technically adept in their formatting and diction,” David Eatock, The Continuist.