The Last Layer

Art and Poetry Allison Grayhurst

Lying flat, going to look my delusion in the eye.
I have been wrong
to base survival on hope, on the condition
of a future exact. I have been wrong to tightrope
walk over decades of barren ice, pretending there was
a destination that could come from this balancing act.
Angry that the ice around me was not water, or better yet,
a lush garden of colourful prosperity.
Angry at this thin edge that held
the whole of my weight.
Today, lying flat, I avert my gaze, shed my old face
and know two choices: to succumb to the struggle or
to be empowered by it.
Jesus in my basement
You are serious as the elements,
master of miracles that overcomes those elements.
You are golden and landing always
in the depth of true light.
I think at times I can hear your voice, immediate,
ambushing my breath and my lazy self-pity.
You call on me to change my skin, walk
this world with belief and wonder. You guide me
in your discipline, offer me promise, eternity,
hills and hills of lush mercy.
You want my words to be exhumed – to speak exact,
not be encased in avoidance, not caked in layers
of mind-twisting complexity.
Just to be here, in front of you – simple, unimportant,
broken by the world, remade by you.
Let the wound not win
You sent me a crib of comfort,
a bridge to walk away from my moth-eaten coat,
a way to suddenly find that piece of string
I was looking for – I received, then
I lost the message, and my lungs flooded
with suspicious contempt.
My comfort was maimed and in this pit
of loudness and conflict, I saw my enemy everywhere:
Rain dripping from my sleeves –
only fear and judgment remaining.
In the morning, you returned to me. In the burn
of one small flame, in the sound a perfect circle,
I asked your forgiveness:
To paint me with this freshness, shave
this mane of morbid madness and help me
cherish the ocean all day until night,
until I wake as one, hopeful again,
your child.
Days with little favour
(when lives shut down)
The thin warmless dome that hovers
like a spider, perfectly still,
above my head – is the world,
the cold-blooded world of lost passengers
and dreamers never able to fulfill that dream,
is the silent spinning fragile frame
of sensibility and propriety
that waxes the soul like sap spilled on a leaf,
is the astonishing disconnection of all things
so ‘together’ and workable on this platform,
is the inefficiency of a loose morality,
of a self-focused morality.
Numbness – a mouse too near the cat,
a split in jelly, never seen,
but there – a hut of chaos, a school
of dull teachers and the rat digging out
of an ordinary tunnel
or a tiger’s tongue lacerating the skin of a shoulder
just to be there
in the world, amidst all this dawdling pain,
perpetual pain, reluctant to embrace God,
and sometimes, even
the possibility of there being God,
reluctant because faith has been foiled
by abuse and hardness, forsaken
as unnecessary, left out with the trash.
Expression is Purpose
When I lean past the door
just enough to reach
another room, I lean past the place
where I can talk or bend this burn
in my esophagus into meaning.
Depth is stretched with a calm but arrogant demeanor,
and the silky robe of forgiveness has washed up muddied
upon the shore.
I pace the equator, having no benefits.
I am brought by chance
to waiver on the threshold –
for I have beauty, but I know beauty
is not beauty without mercy and mercy
is so much more than just good luck.

Bio: 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 880 poems published in more than 390 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;


Allison Grayhurst
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