A Journey in Four Parts
Part One – Acceptance of Realty
(facing the unmovable block)
This is the branch that holds you
Precision and discipline
are the two things needed to win.
Win what? A war. A deadline. Victory
in a failing dream.
Blend the monotone flame,
build it up to fruition so it consumes
the skin, and then the liver and kidneys within.
Stay the course in spite of the flame,
in spite of feeling divinely betrayed.
Summer is not for you. Nor is fainting,
or fading, devoured by futility.
Bite the salt cube, be a door not a wheel.
Take what is shattered, glue a mosaic garden,
a place the rain can settle, and after it settles, shine.
Borrow nothing. Depend on only yourself
to be your own ambassador, mentor, fan.
Stand without dripping. Keep your hands
clean of self-pity, unstained and soft
as when you were first born.
It is a train ride, stopping at many
A long time ago you had medals, owned a crown.
It never brought you peace.
If you are fragrant,
if you are foul-
it doesn’t matter.
Humble yourself to the journey,
let the corpses bloat themselves, feeding
on the putrid elements of greed and anger.
Do what you do best: March,
serve and sometimes sing, finding comfort
in a foot-soldier’s rudimentary song.
(held tighter by the tentacles of hell)
Snip the Seams
Snip the cord
Snip the line
Denial is suffering
under the veil of false
The wound is the womb,
the low-road and the high shore-line.
Snip all means of flight,
all laws and inhibitions.
Shapes made are never final,
words too, alter meaning.
Look and snip
the draining pipe, the solid memory.
The way you were sure was open
but never was, snip
and be done with it.
Why the painter who cannot paint, hot days
in global-warming winter,
the bird bath with a hole?
Scissor-queen, wire-cutter machine, bow
to the bitter land before you, make peace
with the locking tide. Snip
the pictures from the walls,
the broken limb from the rest of the body.
Try it on. Wear it before a mirror, into a crowd.
Pass over the keys.
Take tomorrow, hold tomorrow now
Part Two – Interlude
Smelling the Salted Air
When I fell
I was half-metal, half-mush.
The blood spilled would have killed
another, but I was blessed with
resilience and the head-down-ploughing-through.
When I was down there on the hard oblivion dirt,
I wished my anguish would have devoured me,
that somehow I would stop with dutiful tasks
and allow my mind to reach insanity’s pinnacle.
But I kept going, moving my limbs – first fingers,
then forearm, searching for scraps, nourishment
in the garbage heap I fell on.
No one came to carry me home
to their bed of fine linen and clean water. No miracle
lifted me from that impassable barrier, but I moved through,
I don’t even know how, alone and broken,
my arteries split, my mind lost in the bardo-realm.
Finally, strong-kneed, healing, a small
cavity within is opening, filling with hope.
I know myself in this fiery affirming pulse,
know that freedom from the fall
and freedom from the shackles
that encumbered me to stumble and fall
is my only chance for grain.
If I climb back up that ridge, allow myself
to be chained – the next time down
will be my last.
Now that I am up, walking and free, I see
behind me soot and murder – impersonal and brutal
Ahead, I can make it, make myself a ship
to weather any wave.
Ahead, I can keep myself open, love deeply.
I can be tender, build furniture in the sunlight
or just run with the running water,
up or down stream.
Part Three – Commitment to the Impossible
(ripping off the rooftop, chipping at the floor)
Travel with the donkey
to the place where your
thirst is quenched.
Look into the eyes of a farm cow
and tell her stories of glory.
Leave all your wounds in an unmarked grave.
Those wounds only put weight on your back,
around your belly.
They are not symbols of your grandeur,
but only fed your self-pity, tying you to
a moaning sorrow.
Walk out the door and wake.
Ring the meditation-bowl bell.
Don’t resist your freedom or sabotage
the foreclosure of the haunted warehouse
where you spent many years alone trying to slay
It was never a church nor is it even worthy
of a keepsake box of collected hardships like the hardship
when your children moved through serious illness
and you moved with them, holding out to, onto
the angels surrounding.
This has no life-pulse. Its pain
never brought you closer to God.
It is waste, decay – don’t drag any part of it with you
as you move forward into a complete tomorrow.
It formed its own geography within, its own army
of ruthless intent, pitted against your joy.
Dislodge that piece of land from the rest of yourself
like a useless limb to sever.
The sun is opening. It has opened.
Accept your good health and wake.
Your left hand is now a flower.
(it is a decision, mutually yours and God’s)
I Take In
I take in the fire,
the light of dreams,
take it into my core
to swish around
and build movement, a whirlpool
energy expanding, patching
broken roots on the way, manipulating
days of service to grow a tree
that will sustain long after the forest floor sinks
into the sea.
I take reality and strip it of its elected principals,
reform its origins to reveal miracles,
downpours of fixed definitions dissolving into
a running stream.
I take the pen and make corrections,
here and here until all truths co-related to the truth
within me, until I have no employment but to follow
the dictates of the divine, and know this power
as I know my own gait, my lover’s touch,
the smiles of my children.
I take the chaos of circumstance and make a string
to guide my way through, hold and follow –
one string, one line, golden, formed,
unbreakable as a covenant bond.
Part Four – The Light is Found
(everything belongs to God)
Green Patches on Open Ground
Bow down and accept
the particle blue,
the strength of the beating sun.
In the flame you were born,
keep it alive, as pure as
squeezed lemon juice, as precious
as water in the holy grail.
Wherever you go, the miracle
is in the listening, in steamrolling
resentments, bitterness and the weight of time.
If you must go back, then trust
what binds you to life is stronger and will prevail.
Surrender to the secret. In a second, tumbledown,
join a choir and let your song be layered.
Honey drips from the windowsill.
Collect it in jars and feast. God is great
and only what is connected to God
can know greatness.
Re-embrace the purity of truth and be delivered.
Renew your sacred vows, let the vowels join the consonants
and form words. Cloud. Peach. Clean.
Be filled with your personal seraphim’s blood.
Get behind the line and follow.
This house is an eagle stretching her wings
over her young. It is holy and it is alive.
Your blessings are not meagre,
but monumental as a babe’s first breath,
as yes&no combined.
You have been retrieved from the dumpster,
many are not –
but are left in a crusting-over broken shell, infested
with insects and slowly-devouring disease.
Yourself, once a fallen workhorse,
now unbridled, set free – wild and roaming, racing
neck-to-neck with kin, flooded with pure-power instinct,
at one with the wind, the hills, places to graze.
© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst
First published in “Outlaw Poetry” December 2018
You can listen to the poem by clicking below: