Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017, she has over 1125 poems published in over 450 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
Body of the Whale
slipped for weeks walking on
a shallow incline. I could not choose
my steps or wear anything but out-worn shoes.
I could only be this one way and pray
I was not being deceived.
After many falls and aching ankles, thumb-joints, landing-joints,
and my tears in constant flow, I decided not to move,
stay as a sunken root, let the mud flood
around me, driving me deeper into the stench.
Fears like a cord tied to my feet, tugging me down where even
undulation ceased and it was cold and simple, without cause
or mercy or chance of escape.
I am at the bottom, somehow still myself.
There are strange translucent reptiles brushing
at my extremities. No way to eat and no breath left to be had,
under here in this lightless territory, not much different
than the depths of space, than the place I was first born.
But there, I was one with the darkness, and the stillness of void
was tender, womb-like, all I knew. I will find that again here,
stop resisting, diffuse, painfully, but with the least amount
of rebellion or horror – dissolve like candy floss in a child’s
mouth until I join the blank weight digestive track,
welcome the bottom feeders and the algae pocket swirls
as my own flesh, until there is nothing left of me but this indent bed,
the space inside this bed that keeps my body. And soon
even that will fold over, coalesce, as though it never was.
I was a daughter. I am not anymore. I was waiting
on a personal love, rescue like a clean wave coming to
liquidate my mind. I am not waiting anymore.
I have no strength for hope, no heart
to withstand the hurt.
I break a part and I gather, honouring
the end of my pulse and its reign.
Jonathan Jones is a freelance writer and academic currently living and working in Rome. He has had several pieces of work published in ‘The New Writer’, ‘Poetry Monthly’, ‘Iota’, ‘East Jasmine Review’, ‘The Dr T.J.Eckleburg Review’, ‘The Ear’, ‘Negative Capability Press’ and ‘Dream Catcher’.
A Last Call From The Low Countries
Trees creaking on their leaves where tramlines lead.
The white dawn decries itself.
Eyes scatter, fall to earth, and do not
rise. A man in a red cloak quivers
at the crossing point.
If the words do not ring true for all St Paul’s
most eloquent Greek why should
it follow? Christ’s cold blue lips
The mind must be always alert
to the letter long written by hand.
So easy to lose in the stations of expression.
Once one learns the art of dress, disguise
The fall is sympathetic to the eye.
Such exact detail in a shirt cuff
or a cloud. Art freezes its moan
like a monkey fettered to a chain.
Nothing in the dim light’s refractory
glow will provide illumination.
The long taxi to the polar right gives time
to find yourself in tow whatever else
is left behind.
There is a steady overflow,
a smooth climb into skies; you face
the lights below and know
your time’s secure with questions set.
I do not hear the words you say, so friendly
in intent, and so sincere.
The city floats on picturesque,
and wipes all slates
as though a screen to navigate
the smooth black dream
that will be three degrees below
when we arrive and look to go
by separate trains of thought,
relieved no doubt to find
no signs of ice, or snow.
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.
Sailing to Bermuda
Their luncheon; ceremonial at best.
Mother and daughter chat over French onion soup
and club sandwiches, trying to find the mysterious
ground that once seemed so common. Conversation
ranges only to topics that maintain a wary distance:
Politics, economics and plans for future travel.
Ensuing laughter is a bit too sharp, a little too loud.
At a nearby table, an old woman gags and spits up
her food. Everyone is listening, watching in a way
where heads don’t move, playing let’s pretend
we’re not fascinated by this inevitable suffering.
It’s an ideal moment for empathy; a whisper or sigh,
a silent nod of the head. Instead, an ill-tamed silence.
This is what we have forgotten about each other.
Why they must quickly move apart if their legs brush
beneath the table, why they can’t sip from the same
glass. Fully shunning the unfolded scene, Mom
suggests sailing to Bermuda and the laughter is a
trifle louder, elusively comfortable in this cultured-state;
to know what is feared so much more intimately than
that which we hope to love.
An Astounding Perimeter
It’s not a dream
but a slightly bygone world
covered in frozen mist.
Sparrows alight on the small shoreline
of an astounding perimeter—
a sanctum whispering in white.
I study the icebound bracken and reeds,
gazing past the embankment
to this vacancy of snow where your car once slept.
In the old meeting place, I still look for you—
where our conversations spilled upon gentle light;
simple confessions of twigs and soul.
But we’re left with only a few desperate sentences;
having spoken of things to deny or embrace,
the evergreen ghosts of our endless north country.
Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis
with no money and no credit cards
and your passenger side window broken out.
I’m in the bristling pines laced ivory
where someone once wrote a song about you;
how your eyes extinguished sensibility,
how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.
Can you recall how desperately we believed
that the return of robins and sharp shadows
could change everything;
that crocuses would ignite life in themselves?
Having worked in Andalusia since 2000, Clare Morris has recently returned to the UK. She has completed two poetry pamphlets and is currently working on an anthology, arising from her collaboration with the abstract artist, Nigel Bird (www.nigel-bird.com). Although much of her poetry is written in response to the environment, she also enjoys incorporating more surreal elements. Hoping to challenge dominant representations of medieval women, she is also developing a trilogy of historical fiction which focuses on 9th century Britain and takes the elegy Wulf and Eadwacer as its starting point. She lives in South Lincolnshire with her husband and two bilingual rescue dogs who ignore her in both languages.
Squalling with trees that snap like lariats,
All night the wind has hammered at our peace.
Even now, slumbering fitfully among the roof beams, its snores rumble on,
While beneath this batter and clatter
breath blown on chapped hands begins the work of sanctity
as incense, dense with devotion, circles thickly to season the auroral blush
and old friends, tear-stained with longing, welcome one they thought lost.
O magnum mysterium
our first apostolic act, our gallicinium, greets the morning
our words become the flesh of miracles –
surrexit Christus hodie
Outside, the day on tiptoe peeps timorously past
Hump-backed huddles of clouds, blue-back with buffeting,
And, blinded with the brightness of brief knowing, smiles
As the ascending sun casts shadows on the wall.