A Journey in Four Parts

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

dilapidated stations.

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

and snip.




Part Two – Interlude


(maybe Yes)



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

just because.

       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

the undecipherable.


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

A Journey in Four Parts by Allison Grayhurst


You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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