In Memoriam Joe Ruggier Canadian Poet and Poetry Publisher R.I.P

Editor’s Note: the following homage in memoriam of the life and work of the poet Joe Ruggier appears through the kind permission of Michael Burch,  editor of The HyperTexts (see below) We are grateful at Artvilla for this  permission and understand that both he & Joe Ruggier were close friends as will become apparent in the text.  Joe was also known to us  at  Poetry Life & Times where his contributions can be accessed  via  Categories on the right hand column. We also provide here the link to   where his sonnets  were published in international, multilingual sonnet anthology, The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes = Le Phénix renaissant de ces cendres (251 pp.), published in 2013 by Richard Vallance Janke


We regretfully announce the sudden passing of Joe M. Ruggier at the age of 61 on Sunday July 8, 2018. Joe was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and emigrated to Canada in 1981. He married Maria Julia Raminhos Lourenco in 1984, with whom he raised their daughter, Sarah Thérèse. Joe attended St. Aloysius’ College, then earned a B.A. in English with first class honours from the Royal University of Malta. He then continued his studies in Canada, earning a certificate in Writing and Publishing (SFU) and a Diploma in Typesetting (VCC). Joe wrote and published poetry in both Maltese and English, managed a small press, Multicultural Books of BC, and edited a poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to publish dozens of titles, and he sold over 20,000 books, many of them door-to-door. Joe was committed to the written word, and to elevating the works of his peers and the poets he loved. In his final days he worked fervently, translating work by the Maltese priest, writer and poet, Dun Karm Psaila. Joe was passionate about his faith, his family—most especially his beloved Sarah Thérèse—international sports (soccer), languages, playing classical guitar and listening to his wide-ranging record collection.

The HyperTexts

My Memories of Joe Ruggier

by Michael R. Burch

Joe Ruggier, who published as Joe M. Ruggier, was a remarkable man, if a bit on the “unusual” side. And I met him in a very unusual way …

The year was 2002, and a poem of mine—“She Was Very Strange, and Beautiful”—had just been published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea, a literary journal edited by Esther Cameron. Esther contacted me to let me know that another editor had called her in order to get in touch with me, and had actually recited my poem to her over the phone! That was my introduction to Joe Ruggier. Of course I was honored and intrigued, so I called Joe with the number Esther provided, and from that day forward Joe and I became friends. Joe published three of my poems in his literary journal, The Eclectic Muse, including the one he had recited to Esther. The others were “Redolence” and “In Defense of Meter,” which I later re-titled “In Praise of Meter.” I don’t want this page to get bogged down with my poems, but they can be read here if anyone is interested.

Soon I was in for another very nice surprise, thanks to Joe. He called to tell me that a line in my poem “Auschwitz Rose” had caused him to jump out of his bus seat! Okay, enough about my poetry. From now on, we will focus on Joe’s. But I related these accounts to demonstrate Joe’s passion and appreciation for poetry. I am truly honored that he liked one of my poems enough to recite it, and another enough to jump out of his bus seat. Before I focus on Joe’s poetry and prose, please allow me to relate some brief biological information about him.

Joseph Mary Ruggier was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and died at his home in Richmond, BC, Canada on July 8, 2018 at age 61. He wrote and published poetry in Maltese and English. Joe also managed a small press, Multicultural Books, and was the editor of a poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. He was a remarkable man who sold over 20,000 books, most of them door-to-door, including over 10,000 books that he wrote and published himself. There are over 6,000 copies of his book Out of Blue Nothing in print. These are amazing figures for a contemporary poet: one man willing to buck the system and not accept the common wisdom that “poetry doesn’t sell.” Joe’s family was very important to him: he especially spoke and wrote with pride and admiration of his daughter, Sarah Thérèse, and his mother, Marie.

In addition to at least ten books of poetry, Joe left a highly original and unusual book of prose called Pope Caesar’s Wake. Joe’s Wake is an eclectic “conversation” comprised of lengthy letters he wrote to Pope John Paul II and the terse form letters he received in return (included in the form of photocopies). The conversation begins with a get-well letter Joe wrote to John Paul in 1981 and concludes a quarter century later with a letter written to his successor. Because the Vatican’s responses were invariably inadequate the book’s title became progressively more severe: first Homage to Pope Woytyla, then War and Peace with Pope Woytyla, and finally Pope Caesar’s Wake. In his letters Joe accused the Roman Catholic Church of being a “humourless apparatus of spiritual authority and heartless sin theology” that reduced him to a “nervous, suicidal, pathological wreck” and a “poor, neurotic demon.” He also complained that all his Catholic parents “could ever discuss” with him were “the Pope” and “mortal sin.” Joe’s innovative solution was to find a cure through the “healing power of genuine laughter.” Thus, Joe chose to “make the papacy a work of art” with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. In one letter Joe repeatedly exclaimed “Vendetta!” as he enumerated the Pope’s and Church’s sins against him. In another he compared the Pope and his cohorts to “the Argentineans in the days when they still used to break legs unscrupulously as long as they could carry away a soccer trophy.”

In my favorite letter, Joe told Pope Caesar: “If you are sincere, Your Holiness, take a leave of absence quietly from the Vatican for a few days, where You are surrounded by all the beautiful nudes of MichaelAngelo, come and visit a great Artist Yourself in his poor and lonely hermitage, bring a half a million United States dollars in an attaché case with You, bring a beautiful blonde from Heaven with You, and make sure I see no one else beside You … All I can offer You, unfortunately, is a cup of Earl Grey tea, or a little coffee. And I hope to give You back My baptismal certificate also because I do not need it.” By capitalizing “My” and “You,” Joe put himself on equal footing with the Pope. But alas, all he received in return for his passionate, artistic missives were the Vatican’s pedestrian form letters!

This is one of my favorite poems by Joe Ruggier, and a fine poem indeed:

Part 6 from The Dark Side of the Deity: Interlude

When Satan hurled, before the Dawn,
defiance at the Lord of History;
and Michael stood, and Glory shone,
Whose hand controlled the timeless Mystery?
Who but the Insult was the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When Athens, sung in verse and prose,
caught all the World’s imagination;
when Ilion fell, and Rome arose,
and Time went on like pagination:
Who but the Insult was the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When books, in numberless infinities,
cross-fertilize the teeming brain,
and warring, vex the Soul with Vanities,
and Insults hurtle, Insults rain:
Who but the Insult is the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

And when we too shall cease to be,
like all the Kingdoms of the Past,
and groaning, gasping, wrenching free,
we bite, at last, alone, the dust:
Who but the Insult is the leveler;
Deliverer and bedeviler?

When church-bells fill the wandering fields
with Love and Fear,
the Flesh and Blood of Jesus yields
deliverance dear,
to them who believe in the Compliment Sinsear.

This is a very tender devotional poem …

A Proof of Love

NOW WHEN I was fresh and easy, I would go
to Church … devotion fill’d my soul with tears.
I guessed not all Gospels could so tiresome grow—
the same words repeated for twice a thousand years.
But middle-aged I have become aware
of all the paranoia, boredom, pain,
where with lame hands I grope … of empty air
and dust, and chances lost, and littlest gain.
Yet here I am, my God, where I relax
in warmth of heaters, and Thy glowing smile,
where words, repeated, securer are than cheques,
the Love which then I felt, now lost awhile.
Thus We gave God, Whose Love does not change the story,
a proof of Loveseal of eternal glory!

From Songs of Gentlest Reflection, copyright © Joe M. Ruggier, 2003, 2004

I have never been a fan of the Christian dogma of hell, or of the Christian religion for that matter, but at least Joe puts an original twist on the subject …

Old Dante’s Damning Powers

Many people, in particular modern Catholics, are scandalized by Dante, particularly by his Inferno, wherein Dante positioned real, historical figures among others which are mythological. I once told the Catholics … “Church teaching about Hell is dogmatic theology whatever you say. Why does Dante make you such a terrible insult with Hell? Because he hates you? Or because he wishes you better? The critics, the poetry lovers, the professors understand Dante correctly, and so do the artists … the artists, in particular, are right to love Dante so deeply because they know that his honour is a sincere honour to them and they understand him most correctly in that they understand that his intentions are to save them!” The poem below is where my further reflections led me Joe Ruggier

Old Dante’s damning powers are as God wants—
he snubs with Hell only where he wishes better.
If people do not like them, people should
control their own —damning powers being,
most likely, the only supernatural power
most people have. Dante’s Inferno speaks
to their condition: they read it and reread it;
and in regards to Hell, Church teaching is
dogmatic. If, however, it does not speak
to your condition, you may read Purgatory,
the most human, the most touching, among
great Poems, where, suffer what you may, the edges
are all solace, the consolation of all the faithful
who are not perfect … to whom the Lord may say:
“I’m going to torture you upon the violin!”
and we learn Love, and Holy Spirit, and enter
Heaven musicians like Yehudi Menuhin:
a school for all — Purgatory the blest!

I have been known to observe that there are precious few poems of note written by poets about their mothers. Once again, Joe is the exception to the general rule …

Saint Mary Christian

Elegy for my mother, Marie Ruggier
7th February 1925—29th April 2008

Saint Mary Christian made her family one prophecy only:
“You will seek me and will not find me!”

I was hungry. My Mother gave me to eat.
I was thirsty. My Mother gave me to drink.
I was naked. My Mother clothed me.
I was bedridden. Mother watched and prayed beside me.

All in all a simple soul, Mother was
most capable, and most clever at what she did well.
She was everywhere, she did everything:
the heartbeat of our family. Every day
she cooked three meals from scratch, proof of her love,
for father and all seven of us: her cooking was,
in its own right, a unique, genuine cuisine—
the proudest thing in her devoted life.
She did the laundry, washed dishes, knitted wool,
(and scarves with the colors of our favorite soccer club),
sewed our clothes, helped us all, with father, with our schoolwork,
and often read my writings. We took her quite for granted, but
we loved her all—except when she yelled, and then
we would all hate her for what she elegantly described
as “behooving sin”!
Her frugality was a work
of exquisite art: nothing was wasted,
all scraps of food consumed, and the leftovers
went to the birds … With father, she economized
fractions of cents, supporting all seven of us
on pennies—not a lifestyle
that I could ever grow accustomed to;
but excellent preparation for publishing poetry …

Feminists will look askance at her lifestyle, arguing that
the quality of her life could have been better: one ignores
a movement such as Feminism at one’s own peril;
but Mum and Dad would say that Love
is the only quality of life there is; and Salvation
the only sincere honour!
Though she cared for the Arts,
Mother did not know better: to adjust her vision
to feminist viewpoints called for a contradiction
to everything she knew, everything she learnt,
and was conditioned to be, since early childhood,
by her own parents and upbringing;
a major readjustment which could have
positively unhinged her and unsettled her.
Mum and Dad
were happy, a Man and a Woman, permanently in love,
always getting along: their Marriage was a sacred Memory
of a traditional Past; with no guarantee
that modern marriages are happier!

The Mother who, with untold self-denial,
bore us, bred us, fed us, clothed us, educated us,
and every day said prayers with us … is in her grave:
but her spirit of prayer knew no bottom,
Mass and her Rosary being her favorite charms—
her frugal way of maximizing fractions of idle Time!
Laying up treasure for herself in Heaven,
she lives on in the fragrance of her prayers!

May the Divine Will be fulfilled
in her Life and in her passing!
May the Saints she loved immerse her
in the abyss of God’s Mercy;
invoking upon her holy Soul
the abundant blessings of Divine Mercy!
And may Saint Mary Christian
still pray for all of us below …

Copyright © Joe M. Ruggier 2008

I like the warmth and tolerant spirit of this tribute Joe wrote to Rumi and Islam …

To Rumi

I was impressed by praise your editor penned
for you: “this ocean of sublime jazz
perhaps with no parallel in world literature!”

Islam and its culture remind me of just that,
sublime jazz! As I read on
I could hear it in the atmosphere:
making me think of sex, at the same time
making me think of God, lifting up my mind
to higher things!
That is precisely
what jazz ought to be like, I thought,
and I cheered you, old Rumi, who, centuries ago,
in the middle ages, understood so well
something so primitive, and yet so modern!

That is just what I am missing when I listen
to jazz music, the sublime jazz of Islam!

Copyright © Joe M. Ruggier 2008

This poem reminds me a bit of William Blake and his Everlasting Gospel …

All Love is Sacred

In the jumble and din of modern cities,
immense shopping centres cast in iron cages
and technological jungles, where the constant,
nuclear boom of cars, and planes, and radios
deafens and deadens the sense, by day or night,
bringing the eyes to the constant verge of tears
caused by filth, smog, far too much light and colour,
and noise-pollution, with a cruel, sadistic
wrenching upon the very nerve itself
of sensitive feeling … ancient Love remains,
perennial as the grass, a holy corner
which the Heart calls Home, where a man takes refuge
with prayers inside his Heart: Eros, Agape,
Thanatos, good Love and bad, or the four Loves
all Love is sacred … !

Joe apparently had an unusual Muse …

My Daemon

My daemon follows me. I was a child:
his daemon eyes devoured me ever since!
He loves to rule me proudly, goad me wild;
his maddening eyes they rile me, and I wince!
No matter what I do, he is disdain
and negative thought, dogma if I discuss;
ungracious pastor to poetic pain;
dark inhibition in my jail; and boss!
Though he returns but acid, I must say
long years returned me such a yield of art,
and I have earnt such learning through dismay,
that I grow fond; I love to touch his heart!
To our hostilities I see no end;
I tremble! Can I be blam’d to call him friend?


Four Poems from Out of Blue Nothing, a sequence of Twenty-Four Sonnets

AS I stand surveying all that ground I lost,
all that I loved, and love gone out and cross,
love’s labour like some burning wreckage tost,
my spirit breathes: “this was eternal loss!”
Had I but known, fair creature of an hour,
sweet love that sank in the bright hills like rain,
had I been subtle to the eleventh power,
I would not drown, and never cry again!
Suppose that all Life Death does end; assume
the worst!  Hence the necessity of humour!
Clean jokes are altars blossoming; and the bloom
“another Life”.  How this one makes me swear!
But books in the raw element immerse,
since love and ready wit suffice for verse.

BOOKS! Voices of Sirens singing, carrying
from undiscovered countries and slow time!
Grand monuments! and Beasts of Troy, ferrying
fast ones; whole hordes of demons clad in rhyme!
New starts and old revisions; worlds unknown,
and all the old eternity on paper!
Merry-go-rounds where all the winds of renown
lead some poor devils round around a caper!
I know them all, how changing, and well I know
brain-spinning disturbs the Peace … torrential rain!
Into which sense shall I dissolve and go?
Lie where? Would I have done it so again?
Good men are great philosophers; the heart
Is their Ink-pot; sound sense is all their art.

STILL young and green to the school of hard knocks,
flushed senses flaming from the dream you sought,
to drown was sweet when Song seemed like the rocks
beneath, and Books were timeless depths of thought.
Fresh sprung the verse which could not obey your call,
and molded lumber seemed all tomes instead!
Oh well! for the lad and his lass and the team round a ball!
but ah! for the pillar of Fire in your head!
Knocked between books and wild, springing nature,
knocked between Church and this, your wild, first love,
knocked between love and song and wan misfeature,
knocked between dreams and fact, bright stars above,
would you have tumbled had you known? Who knew?
You wrote yourself this Requiem.  How true?

THE CHAPEL folded up among the trees
stood open.  Winds rushed like children round the steeple.
The metal windmills creaked. Transported Peace
sighed on the leaves, drawn out from a unified people.
Brains are the whirlpools, whirlwinds were the hymns;
the voice of the nameless, pride and soul of the millions!
We clip high dreams.  Their true illusion dims,
and dips like a headlight.  But stars in their billions
still heave like a wave of the sea and over the hills;
and far away is long ago! The dusk
subdues the nuclear tone, which all but chills
Man’s withering dreams but for the priest-like task!
Set down out of blue nothing rhymes unheard!
Redeem the time!—but sexless, Man’s absurd!

Joe M. Ruggier expanded biography and obituary: It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Joseph Mary Ruggier at the age of 61, at his home in Richmond, BC, on Sunday July 8, 2018. Joe was born in Malta on July 26, 1956 and emigrated to Canada in 1981. He married Maria Julia Raminhos Lourenco in 1984, with whom he raised their daughter, Sarah Thérèse. He attended St. Aloysius’ College followed by a B.A. (1st class Honours) in English from the Royal University of Malta and continued his studies in Canada earning a certificate in Writing and Publishing (SFU) and a Diploma in Typesetting (VCC), which he credits for becoming an established publisher. Joe wrote and published poetry in both Maltese and English, managing a small press, Multicultural Books of BC, and editing the poetry journal, The Eclectic Muse. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to publish dozens of titles, selling over 20,000 books. Joe was committed to the written word, elevating the works of his peers and poets he loved. In his final days, he worked fervently, translating work by the Maltese priest, writer and poet, Dun Karm Psaila. Joe was passionate about his faith, family — most especially his beloved Sarah Thérèse — international sports (soccer), languages, playing classical guitar and listening to his wide-ranging record collection.  Joe was predeceased by his beloved mother Maria Ruggier (née Micallef). He leaves to mourn his loss his family, Sarah Thérèse and Maria Julia, his father Alfred, his six siblings Paul, Fred, Louis, Mario, Anna, Marisa, and extended family residing in Canada, the USA, Malta, Ireland, and Kenya. Prayers will be offered on July 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Paul Church, 8251 St. Albans Rd., Richmond, B.C. where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on July 19, 2018 at St. Paul Church at 10:00 a.m. Interment to follow at Gardens of Gethsemani for 1:30 p.m. Condolences for the family may be left at . Visit Joe’s website at


Walkways. A Poem by Allison Grayhurst

walkaway 1

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’s 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
Editor’s Note: All the photo images present in this poem have been made by the poet herself Allison Grayhurst.
Allison Grayhurst photo 2015
Bio: Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Twice nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 825 poems published in more than 360 international journals and anthologies. Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers in 1995. Since then she has published eleven other books of poetry and six 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 in December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series in October 2014. More recently, her chapbook No Raft – No Ocean was published in October 2015 by Scars Publications. She also has a chapbook Currents pending publication this Fall/Winter with Pink.Girl.Ink. Press. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;
Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, 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; The Brooklyn Voice; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); 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; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.
[email protected]
[email protected] All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop

Stones River Country Club

Stone's River Country Club

Scene from the Greenway in Murfreesboro, Tennessee across the river. This and all greenways are a joy for the cities and this small Tennessee town has one of the best.

48″ x 36″ Linen on gallery wrapped stretchers
David Michael Jackson


I’ve continued to work on this painting a bit since posting this, but it hasn’t changed much. It’s a perfect motif. The colors are orange and blue which is perfect for impressionism. The winter provides a look at beautiful Bermuda grass through the trees. The country club in the distance helps create depth and the reflection of the sky and trees, I find exciting.