Slipping off the Side

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Slipping off the Side

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Never holding, always holding

up, down, back

past the white-light knockout strike,

the broken dishes, the failed vision.

Always guilt as agency – sweet sun

out of reach, when reached, just a hot huge

stone that must be released. Watching the reptilian

garden diggers, the small-soul claim joy in evil,

sit on the hay stack, seeding its throne

and start a royal lineage.

 

Entire bloodlines behind bars – Children hated.

I see the same name on all my friends’ faces.

My insides have become strewed. 

I have only a guiding breath breeze in

a state of blindness, dialectics, repetitions

saying “Do not be attached”. Out of the box

then back in again.

 

I would make a casserole if I knew how.

I would connect everyone

with a wink if the power was mine, if the cracking

double-take shame would release me-

moult and moult until it was small, easy enough to crush

and smear on the pavement.

I have shed these chains twice, maybe more,

maybe their returning power is just an illusion,

a phantom captivity.

 

When I was in the blue room with an entrance to the attic,

entities ripped into my skull when I slept,

channelling their destructive vocations.

I prayed on the forest floor and burned pages and pages

of long-hand. That was when

I stopped swimming and learned how to ride horses, before

I almost joined a neighbourhood,

whizzed past neighbours on a bike, leaving a mark.

I wish I was caught in the loop of simple competition,

knew my place at the starting line,

claiming trophies at the finish line,

climbing tall chunky trees in the summer or

racing up and down fire escapes for the fun of it.

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© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

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First published in “Outlaw Poetry” November 2018

https://outlawpoetry.com/2018/slipping-off-the-side-by-allison-grayhurst

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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I tilt back and see above

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I tilt back and see above

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a tiered canopy

that rises great heights, separating pockets of sky

– some blue, some with clouds –

layers, textures swaying in gentle phrases,

opening the hilltop-cap of grief

more like pouring in

the truth of helplessness,

setting free depths unspoken,

domed in such beauty.

 

Perfection that cannot be matched

or misplaced as mediocre or somewhat flawed,

but is flawed, not one straight line

or obedience to symmetry,

all space taken up with its fecund flesh.

 

No cell or stem rotted without reason, rotted

because of regret or the weight of culture

or the ridged mind-set of past tradition, but all the past

contained within it.

 

The ancient trunk expanded equally in the roots

and the leaf currents, intertwined with other currents

to build a blanket, thick enough to feel protected,

mesmerized by the soft motion overgrowth bloom,

a place to anchor a home, release all weapons, comforted.

 

 

 

 © 2018 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

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Published in “Synchronized Chaos” November 2018

https://synchchaos.com/synchronized-chaos-november-2018-the-things-we-carry/

http://synchchaos.com/15244-2/

 

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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Caesar

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Caesar

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If I am going to speak of you, I want

to speak of you properly.

 

You were not a man fueled

solely by personal ambition, but had

a drawing-in blackhole endless taking,

sucking-in-energy latched tight to your soul.

You also had

a throbbing outward force

of inexhaustible restlessness

fused with your being. You had

fortune emboldened at your side.

You risked all for all-or-nothing in countless campaigns,

taut with a certainty no person should have to bear.

You did deeds no peer had

the courage or genius to execute, and standing still

in victory, you never rested but moved to the next goal

as swiftly as you conquered the last.

 

***

 

If you loved God that way instead of war

you would have been more than you were –

more than the high priest of Rome or a king amongst kings.

If you came at the time of Jesus, knew Jesus,

Jesus would have satiated that terrible internal void,

plugged it, infused it with his light –

then you would have known peace

and your urgent voracity for power

would have been settled, stilled.

 

***

 

But as it were, living before Christ

you knew compassion,

were hated for your compassion,

by your own army and your enemy’s.

You offered clemency more than you punished.

All were held captive by your generosity

as much as they were by your fierceness.

You maimed their pride with your kindness, deliberately,

those nobles, senators, those rulers locked in the grinding

wheel of rotating nullifying traditions. You stood outside

of your society, no patience to give attention

to their useless squabbles of self-important entitlement,

their togas of whitewashed

formality, their ass-burns for sitting so long

in debate, on the concrete horizontal plains

of arrested progress.

 

They needed you more than you needed them.

They needed your violent push, your confident disregard

for all they held as fact, sacred and forever-lasting.

Your ego was strong,

a compulsive force of relentless potency, but

your dignity was stronger.

They foiled your many attempts to make peace.

You were isolated because you felt yourself superior

burdened with an innate drive

that surpassed all of those that stood before you,

and those that came before you too.

 

Antony was nothing beside you, nor Crassus, Pompey,

Cato, Sulla, Servilia or even Cicero,

(though you envied Cicero his literary talent as you also

wrote books, and even poetry).

 

***

 

But Caesar, did any one love you?

They feared, admired, hated and worshiped you,

but did they love you? I think your first wife did,

and your daughter with her, Julia,

and Cleopatra – she loved you – saw herself kindred

to a man of unsurpassed charm and authority.

She too was brilliant, ruthless and magnetic and not

the great pigeonholed beauty history claims.

The two of you together went too far.

With her, you lost your isolation and gained equality.

With her, you also lost your balance.

You became too much.

 

The senate fed your fate,

created monuments and celebrations

in your honour. While you stayed in Rome,

smothered by their demands,

you organized time, created the Calendar

and planned your next siege.

 

It has been told that you were a great lover of both sexes.

That your mere presence, cheerfulness and choice words

inspired armies to win when defeat was deemed inevitable.

You gave your soldiers the autonomy to choose you,

and they always chose you.

 

***

 

Over dinner, the night before you were murdered

the senators asked you

“what would be the best kind of death?”

and you said “quick, unexpected”

They gathered around you, 23 of them,

each taking a vicious plunge,

thinking they could backtrack, mend

what you dismantled, when instead

their calculated betrayal destroyed the Republic 

they wanted to preserve. And for you,

 

they furnished the stage of your last act,

marked even more immortal by Shakespeare,

brought to its apex by your protege Brutus.

Bleeding and overpowered,

you covered your head with your cloak, knowing

the oracle was right.

You, ancestor of Venus – died

one of the most remembered deaths in history, died

a death befitting your life, claiming your place

on par with the ancient gods.

 

***

 

If I am going to speak of him I want

to speak of him properly.

 

This sometimes-tyrant,

this namesake of July and a comet,

this forger of the clip-clawed Libra constellation,

was like an inedible mark,

a perfect creature aligned

with inner and celestial interlocking geometry.

His impatience and discipline

grew parallel, equal in calibre within him.

In him there was nothing lethargic,

no detrimental indulgences

and nothing chaotic.

 

Crossing the Rubicon, always forward moving,

daring, leaping outside the lines

afraid more of failure than of death,

he stayed the path, never compromising,

humbled only by the voice

that stormed triumphant in his head.

 

The voice, when waking

he never spoke about, but when sleeping,

gripped him, strained, strengthening his zeal,

igniting a landmark pure devotion.

 

He was made for that point in time and space,

to enact that exact mythology, a destiny

etched like a laurel wreath into the skin around

a zenith fixed star.

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© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

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First published in “Outlaw Poetry” October 2018

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https://outlawpoetry.com/2018/caesar-by-allison-grayhurst/

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

 

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Dried Heroism

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Dried Heroism

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The void comes and contains me.

Who picks the last straw

fated to carry the dynamite?

On shore, near a fern tree

I saw an umbrella break

and a worm exposed to the wind’s wet fury.

 

How I long for more than a nickel’s worth

of comfort in my shoes,

for a spoonful of light in my mouth,

to kiss its translucency and praise midnight

gone.

 

Shame is not my therapy, but fading

fragile as sanity often is,

wanting a sign from God but finding

cars recklessly racing over speed bumps, rain water

flooding in mid-winter and an empty stomach.

 

How to dance on this floor of dread, learn

to feed my horses washed seaweed

when all the grass is dead

 

How to see my future as more

than a tiny creature scurrying helplessly

in the folds of an infant’s hand  

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© 1991 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

 

 

First published in “Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine” November 2018

https://vitabrevisliterature.com/poems/dried-heroism-a-poem-by-allison-grayhurst/

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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Years Before His Resurrection

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Years Before His Resurrection

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   On the sidelines

in a tale as lasting as fairy tales

he recounted the details

of his Russian heritage,

several centuries past.

            Through an open window

he stretched his neck and laughed

at all the sidewalk walkers

walking beneath him.

            With tortured eyes and soft, cold skin,

he spent his time playing piano in candle light, sometimes

counting his collection of exotic butterflies.

            He longed for death or for some substance

in the wind. He caught the night between

his eyelashes, reading Nostradamus outload.

            Behind closed curtains he nourished the cavity within

by reciting the prayers of obscure saints, offering appeasement

to his guilt that no hope could overcome. He was not

            a typical man, not proud, not tender,

but full of churning lava, full like a storm cloud

before the storm, like the belly

of a soon-to-be mother, full and focused

like a predator sensing

the frightened heart of its prey.

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© 1990 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

 

 

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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Something New

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Something New

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I hold my love before you

in the silver eye of winter.

I nudge myself from a restless year,

dancing upon the crust of a breaking wave.

I feel the taste of Japanese ginger enter my mouth.

My head is full of phantoms. My fingerprints

are held hovering inches from fire.

Starships and everglades are overturned.

Thumbs are caught in car doors.

The blunt scythe of Death carves, shredding

history’s figures of ruthless pride.

Ideas of beauty change from century to century

but not ambition, not the way

the ego demands to be heard,

regardless of brutality or waste.

I open the empty pantry. I write down names

on the pieces of a shattered lamp post.

In the silver eye of winter,

I hold my love before you.

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©1990 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

 

 

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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I Dreamt Again

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I Dreamt Again

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I dreamt again

of the past encroaching

like a wet towel, tight

around my clothed body.

I dreamt I felt alone, doomed to dance

on a suspended scaffold’s floor.

 

Among the bitter people I walked,

near their self-pity and inconsolable isolation.

I tried to separate myself, split the heavy air

with my fingers. I tried

to wave their fear into the mouth

of everlasting light.

But love was bitten at the stem,

and the hideous thirst within

grew again like a snake its second, tougher skin.

 

I dreamt I wandered half-made buildings,

where squatters lived, sheltered

in the dank concrete ruins.

I travelled through without shoes, dreaming

of sand-soft ground.

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© 1991 by Allison Grayhurst

amazon.com/author/allisongrayhurst

 

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Published in “Synchronized Chaos” November 2018 (under the title “Dream”)

https://synchchaos.com/synchronized-chaos-november-2018-the-things-we-carry/

http://synchchaos.com/15244-2/

 

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You can listen to the poem by clicking below:

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