Toads and kestrels shape
the river’s being.
Being what? But song
and bird’s breath
and even lovers who need
her current, her living fury
that communes equally with the sun and moon.
Seedlings and butterflies,
the river engulfs all in her rushing blood.
Death reflects beautifully in her
foaming shine. And the devil’s rage
the salmon’s struggle the child’s tossed-in penny
shapes her surly figure, is wine to her thirsty veins.
Branches and stones
vanish in her womb where never
the light has crept. Snails ride
her flesh to shore.
And though she is tired, she never rests,
desperate to embrace the sea, to ride
his undulating loins, and be bonded forever
to his salty grandeur.
The far and withered bulb flower
I planted when I was a child,
long ago shaken by years of wind
and rotted to its core –
now that I has all by disappeared
even as a crust upon the Earth,
has it found shape again in something living,
or backtracked to the volcano heart
of a mythical land?
Does it sigh for the sun or cry
when it hears a frog’s slow croak?
Does it do as I do now, watch
rain fall on stones, or is it part of a low-creepy thing
that lacks shadow and intent.
Does it sleep in the moss or
is it clay for a sculptor’s hungry hands?
Does it float through the seas as a jellyfish
or hop the meadows wild?
The far and withered blub flower
I planted when I was a child,
maybe today I saw it again
in the squirrel crossing the street
or maybe in that great tomato that was
my lunch, it returned
to now nourish my grown-up bones.
But if I Look
If I keep thinking
how my hopes can flourish
in these seemingly luckless years,
soon I will be mad
with fear and futility.
But if I look at the branches of trees
stretching upward, individual as any
ancient god, and look and feel
their surety, complexity and peace . . .
If I strive to learn one thing from their
underappreciated presence, then awakened
I would be like a mustard seed
touched by sunlight.
Gathering Joy for the Eye of God
For the lions and toads
in salvation’s nakedness
gather joy for the eye of God
For the squirrels that leap and the thrushes
that fly into clouds and the morning sky
like a pink sea, capturing the delight
of every waking child
For the infant who cut his toe
and the pregnant woman dancing stripped of clothes
For the cat watching out the window
and the stallion and mare in mating fury
For grass returning after being crushed by snow
and music seeping from a woman’s middle-aged throat
For the one-winged hawk and the blind opossum.
For the architect’s dream and the writer’s
For the loneliness inherent in us all
and the longing and the ways for fulfilment
For the graveyards in the fall and the elephants drunk
on African leaves, for those who hear the insects’ cheep
and for those who burn, blind, undefined
For the television screen enjoyed by two
and the worm rescued from a torrential rain
For those who love and those who choose
to forgive though every nerve commands
their heart to harden and yield to hate
gather joy for the eye of God.
bio: Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1200 poems published in over 475 international journals and anthologies. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com
Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album. “River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst” released October 2017.
Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); SUFI Journal (Featured Poet in Issue #95, Sacred Space); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine, The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Existere; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.