Monday 8 March 2021

One Five Part Poem by Allison Grayhurst


The Letting Go






            Blast your devil’s heart,

make it into paper confetti,

take it into outer space

and leave it there.

            You stood on my shoes as I was

wearing them, dug your heels in

and spat in my eyes.

            Cruel corpse rising from a muddy grave,

you are weak and monstrous, always claiming

to be the victim of someone else’s scheme.

You are madness, the sharp ridged knife

of madness flaying in chaotic whiplash

at the sky, the birds, and all manner of trees.

            Take back your darkness, swallow it whole,

let it stew in your innards, ruminate, reuniting

with the depravity already there.

            You will never lie to me again,

pretending you wanted love when all you wanted

was to spread your malignancy, vengeance

for an imagined wrong, to give a landing slap

with the full force of violent resentment and envy.

            Slither away, your bite left no mark, ineffectual

as your attempts to love. Judas, Brutus, master

of deep, un-emerge-able hell. Go home. Blast away

your caked-on body filth, reductive stench, spoiling

all you claimed to hold sacred.









            Give yourself over

to the burn on your back,

the sordid array of demons

counselling your thoughts.

Let loose the bell string,

pull hard and hard again.

Find yourself a ditch to

fall into, scream out of,

wailing at the stars.

            Ruin a good morning with

your sticky filth, throwing blame

to deflect from the wounds of

your own weakness.


I add you up - here, here and here.

I will not play along

with your parlour-tricks, your mayhem

of pointing-the-finger lies

when what I gave was love

- not perfect - but love nonetheless.


Coil up in your bitterness, resentments you wear

like a special pair of shoes,

walking around, leaving prints over prints

of your relentless pointless pacing.

            I am not who you think I am, not willing

to hold guilt for your depravity, for a crime never my own.

I will say it again - I loved - I gave you love

the best I knew how, and I showed kindness.


Give yourself over to the intercourse

of false justifications and accusations and

see how it feels to be alone, here,

with what is left -

broken dollar-store jewelry, dandruff flakes.

Give yourself over and

get lost,

out of my thoughts

out into the isolated frozen-dead terrain

of your own sick making.









            Surrender to restore

the gifted strength, bruised

by curses, but otherwise unharmed.

Lay down the cloak of justice,

Achilles’ revenge. Shout fire!

and let it burn.

            What I did was falter,

over speak with heart-felt enthusiasm,

that is all - thinking it was to a friend,

when in fact it was a snake, no, a worm,

without backbone, fangs or face.

            Pour salt on it, watch it dissolve

into its true slime-form, formless

as the excuses of Brutus who cared nothing

for Rome, for Caesar, had only his own

power-grab in mind, wounded

that he was not chosen, pride-puffed,

feigning altruism to self-justify

his ruthless deed.

            Appear to me, then pass like a bad smell

when a window is opened, or lavender calm is sprayed.

I was fooled when I should have honoured

the signs before, left, when I first witnessed

your shadow-flood self-pity play. Then

I should have hung up the phone and never

called back. But I kept on, over that hurdle, ignoring

its truth, always wondering, waiting for the monster

to unmask again. When it did, it was worse than before.

            The wolves of hell have you now, surrounded

on all dimensional sides. Your vicious tongue,

still twisting and twirling, angered at the glare of the sun.


            Promise me never to return. I promise you

I have walked by you, looked, then walked

further up the devil’s back, out

of the inverted pit of your doing, never to look again.

            Know I have no good memories of you,

they have all been eradicated by this hideous calamity.

Your words of love ring like lies,

hiding a hostile, grudge-madness,

a decade of trust mutilated by spiritual sickness.

            Know your hydra head is now exposed,

sliced off, cauterised, nullified at the core, illusion blown -

your sweet-honey-poison dried up, disposed.












Diminished in love

by excessive self-pity, locked

in anguish, in anger, in the burn-machine

lake layer of hell

as the long sword of your insanity

is wielded, intending to split

my skull in two.


I felt it breeze past, just missing its mark.

I felt the shock as I swerved, as you

suckled on the teat of your unfounded

resentments, brewing for months, draped

in pretty fabric, niceties and endearments.

How long had your soul gone foul,

and I never noticed?

No discussion, just your rigid arthritic finger

pointing, your creased forehead further creasing,

corpse-like and rising like a poltergeist

from the boiling mire.


Poor soul. Poor you as all of your

bold spiritual proclamations are reduced to naught.

Take care old woman. You cannot create

or be uplifted tied to this abhorrent deformity

of deluded self-righteousness.

You can feel good for a second, lift your sword,

and be exhilarated. You can rub your hands together,

feel the power of cruelty, demolishing

a friendship with one swift cut.

You can and you did, and it is now done –


The cancer I never knew was there is removed,

every cell radiated and eradicated.

I proclaim gratitude for getting me out,

for releasing me from the leach tethered to my underbelly,

masquerading as a trusted alley.


I see you, your collected violent distortions, the rage

you assume, your sword in its ruthless downward assault,

swing, strike past, dark mass amputated, and I am set free.





The Hollow



The burn was received, betrayal

like a thousand strikes

on the same spot - ripping off

first my skin, then sinews.

A burn like a confession of hate,

masquerading for years as love.


That side has now descended, into the hollow,

along with all that burns and whose heat

cannot be tamed or reconciled.

I put a steel sheet over that hollow,

cover it for good and breathe easy in my escape,

tie my hair back and sing loudly with

my joy and intellect intact - with my trust in

God unharmed, my language rejuvenated.


            Layers of arsenal fumes, rising,

            I see you below in that hollow

            hunched over, lamenting

            a sickly self-pitying cry.

            Already your hands and arms, up to your elbows,

            buried like stakes deep in the unforgiving ground.

            You cannot move. You cannot hope

            for better days.

            Your hissing is useless, and the venom from your lips

            dissipates into nothing as it leaves your gaping mouth.

            You, stuck in a frozen mire, cut off

            from the current, condensed, calcified, and stalled,

            with only your conceit, your woe-is-me!

            to give you voice, some

            semblance of rudimentary comfort.





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 1260 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;


              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 entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 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; Buddhist Poetry Review; 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.


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