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 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



You can listen to the poem by clicking below:











The words came

and killed the hostages,

killed the ghosts stuck

in crevices of crow’s feet eyes

and in the long book of regrets and what ifs.


The words came and said:

the greatest indication

of spiritual immaturity

is the lack of gratitude.


The words were singular, pounded their plurality

into one soft mass, or like pieces of glass

heated, liquified, blending smoothly

the dangerous edges.


The words came as two hawks hovering

in surreal stillness and then came again

in the small measles-scar of someone I knew

as a child, seen again as an adult, flooding me

with a memory and an affirmation


that the spaces between

this time and that time

do not exist, not as a ladder, not as fossil bones

but those spaces somehow existing, contain

the intrinsic value of eternity.





The words came

and were excellent company – said:


hear the melody while joining with each note,

be absorbed into its specific portrait.


The words said: pause,

brought me into the sun rising over the field,

out of the dark forest that was covered with bramble

and dead rooted trees.


I found a way out, I held a hand, briefly,

but long enough to be healed.

I saw the old cat smiling on the mat,

the old dog as happy

as he was when he was young,

a house embroidered with the harmony

that comes after journeying

through the trapped corridors of hell.





I am on horseback with my chestnut-red friend,

galloping near the round edge, certain of our flight –

both of us embodying a perpetual exhilaration,


          and where, where are we going? so fast?

          so in tune? – no words now –

          just a sweet-nectar symbiotic flow.


Call these words a dream. Call them bohemian.

Back away. Throw the stone. Seal them.


All bars and walls are purgatory-spent,

blown over

(lick your lips, let the spider live)


blow it over, behind.




© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “The Conclusion Magazine, Issue 2” December 2018






You can listen to the poem by clicking below:




A Glimpse


A Glimpse



There was a glimpse

of a sunrise, a dazzling ending

and wild grass, lush and life-filled

to walk towards, into, barefoot and perfect

as God’s grace is perfect, reducing the darkness

unnameable and innocence, reclaimed.


There was a moment

when I could see like a prophet sees

or a sorcerer, flexing joy in dimensional

vividness, dilated, stripped of

my armour, tension and dread.


Army on a hill, hungering for the water flowing

downstream. Woman on a ship, surrounded

by the sea with a kicking babe in her expanded belly.

Is there land? Is it heaven or just a dream?


If I risk, I risk it all

with nothing to risk it for in sight.

If I stay, I am a drowned clover,

no different than the meat-eaters,

the non-shapeshifters and the drones.






What do I say to the arrested vision,

the backward plucking?

I had a glimpse, a gift

of jewels overflowing.

Am I mad, believing? I think I am,

trapped in this curse – hours upon years

chipping at the granite with my teeth, pushing

my way through with no end in sight, damaging

the sack around my heart,

relentlessly fulfilling my duty.


There was a glimpse,

something of God in a ghost-filled place.


Someone tells me to believe that this darkness

is ending, that the gamble is launched

and victory is already

in my hands.






If I could astral-project, I would go

to that place I glimpsed, just to be sure it was there.

If I could be more than I am, I could find peace

in the corner of this prison cell.


The birds say one thing, and my body another.


The glimpse was here and it was hope.

I will not deny its existence.

I will not fight its wound or its expectation,

but surrendering to my limitations,

into the wet earth,

I will give way, pacified.



© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “Outlaw Poetry” November 2018






You can listen to the poem by clicking below:



Slipping off the Side


Slipping off the Side



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.



© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “Outlaw Poetry” November 2018




You can listen to the poem by clicking below:



I tilt back and see above


I tilt back and see above



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






Published in “Synchronized Chaos” November 2018





You can listen to the poem by clicking below:









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.



© 2018 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “Outlaw Poetry” October 2018





You can listen to the poem by clicking below:





Dried Heroism


Dried Heroism



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



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  



© 1991 by Allison Grayhurst




First published in “Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine” November 2018




You can listen to the poem by clicking below: