The Journey Continued in Four Parts


The Journey Continued in Four Parts




Part One – The Step







(barren metallic fields,

a harvest ready to haul, infested,

lock-jaw stagnation)



Never Holy



You asked for a light

at the end of the tunnel

and was told

there is no light at the end

because you are the light

guiding your escape.

You are the living fresh-water fountain

you seek, the high rock in the ocean.


Then you were told there is no tunnel,

no distance between the dark and light.

There is pain and loyalty to that pain

and false hopes that claim us

like a deceitful friend plotting betrayal.

You were told to be glad at daybreak, when the battle

ensues. Against the rain, don’t have any secrets,

even let your own death be revealed.


You were told never stop longing for the clarity

of your spirit, give no one up to the slaughter,

eat only what does not scream or thrash.

If there is a high wall, climb.

If a steep incline, find a rope, tie a rope

and edge your way gently down.


You were told to make bread, give a loaf away

and you might never go hungry.

And even if you do go hungry, then hunger

is the season you are called to endure.


You asked for light at the end of the tunnel

and was told

six more days, then seven – open sail –

eventually the wind will wake, spare you

the cause of your consuming dread.






(Four Heads of Evil Within and Without –

Resentment; Bitterness; Self-pity; Self-aggrandizement)






Be still, in the hostile landscape, be still,

find provision, refuse the fear.

Firmly self-sufficient, valuing your

success measured by fulfilment of God’s commands

and the sweet exchange of eternal experiences.

Is there anything to regret? No,

there is only what must be given up

– self-pity – the grotesque body

that grew beside your own, grew because

of your suffering, a deformity that

grew to help you carry the weight of that suffering,

a deformity that held a place for your secret pride.


But now, unbound, you must mercy-kill it,

release and dissolve its surface layers and under-layers.

It is always in a state of perpetual decay, supporting.

Release the poltergeist apparition,

re-distribute your cells, align

without its sickly features haunting and its whisperings

that lead to madness, whispering

“This suffering is yours. How amazing you are to carry it!”

and “No one will love you if you don’t carry it.”


Be loved in your joy and crazy impulses,

your sinews riveting creative overflow.

Be bouncing, impossible, wrenched from its illusion,

off your leash, off your rocker.

Discover dignity under the high trees,

by the rapids, skipping stones,

stepping on the slippery rocks,

stepping closer to the thrashing contours,

closer yet to its elemental song.






(Awaiting Impact)



Calling In



If you see the daybreak

but cannot walk out of the cave,

if you are still feasting on small beetles and cave-moss

instead of apples and mushrooms, how far really

does your sight go? Far, winning yourself

a legacy but not far enough to be more than

a story told.


How do you collect the emptiness and make a stone,

a salvation, carved with a celestial roof and sturdy ground?


Beg for movement – ask to drink from the cup today –

to perch on the hillside, walk down

the hillside and greet the blessing

like an open-hearted child, running

full speed into your arms.


Take more than symbols, signs, tarot and spells.

Lick the forehead of love, taste the salt

on your tongue, gently covering folds and creases.

Stay in the glory, tangible, building, connecting.


The deck is clear. Hatch the egg.

Search the upper rooms,

carry your bed to the second floor, welcome in

the seductive sweetness, invite it to climb your steps.

First, shedding its secrets, single in its carnal commitment.

Then, feeding your body with its gravity and resolve.



Part Two – Going Back to Let Go






(learning the lesson of Lot’s wife)



Their bed, Your body



     Rocking under the blade,

not touching, almost touching but not.

Walking into the savage yard, where

decaying soulless wanderers

crowd the space and drink misery instead of water.


     Passing through the yard,

closing the gate, never to return.


     It is a dark enchantment – behind you, bolted,

enclosed. No price high enough could steady

their ravenous hunger, no sacrifice given to save them

was ever even noticed.


     They will keep wandering

in the dead-zone where no mercy

can reach them.


     That garden is a place where connection

to God has been willfully severed, where souls

have dissolved into wisps of ghostly fever, ungraspable,

doomed to the storeroom, to the torment tangibly pouring out

of guilt, shame, and outrage born from self pity.

Pity them, then move on.


     They are full of secrets, unwashed undergarments

and dusty overcoats, cramped with illness.

Your hands cannot be a shield,

their shadowy substance will seep through your pores.

All that can be done is to


     hold hands with Jesus,

commit to run with Jesus. Make this choice,

and watch the swallows circle their nests,

watch the leveling sun

as all good possibilities expand.


And you, reborn by this choice,

having shed yourself of their torment,

can rub yourself with lavender,

manifest your eternal potential,

stepping into the wave, becoming the wave

at one with such power,

all directions in rhythm, forward.






(see with both eyes)



When Dust Covers the Sacred



Time is hard on the dream.


The dream, once sharp bold lines

becomes an untidy room – clothes behind

the bed, food crumbs hidden in corners.

For this exchange there is maturity,

the binding up of existence with the inexplicable,

the terrible and the flaccid.


The dangerous duty, the succubus of worry

and then the bitter beast that grows a head beside

your own…in youth, it is easy to imagine the

chaos cleaned, ordered like the many houses of heaven,

but after the fruit has long ago been picked

and there is nothing left to eat, your body changes

to find fuel in air like the baleen whales,

sucking in, filtering out, tiny nourishment,

trying to maintain fat stores, energy

for movement and a steadier type of strength

that only needs the air for answers,

breaking down the barriers of the dream,

letting in influences once firmly barred, letting down

the unsolved puzzles, picking up a housecoat and



The dream then becomes everything – tasks,

small gestures of love, like hugging your grown children,

feeding hazelnuts to squirrels

or watching your lover dance, carefree.


The dream is a small thing,

creeps up behind you like an unexpected neck rub,

cultivates in increments, holds its best power

when unattended, yielding to the unconscious flow,

crushing the big-dream-treasure into an edible form.






(the more love given,

the more meaning received)



Sink the Cup



     Ignited, set afloat upon a great ocean.

And although the life below the surface is foreign

it is drawn from the one source, and not-so-foreign

at the core.

     Speak up upon that burning boat-pyre, drain your cup,

release your shock and anger into a spoken-aloud prayer.

     They will come, the angels of the sea –

humpbacks, octopi, porpoises and silver bright fish –

from the dimensional platforms of subcutaneous depths

they will rise with conviction, intimate

as the heat that encroaches and the flames reaching,

determined to transform your flesh into ash.

     Leap into their fins and tentacle arms.

They too are sacred and able to offer deliverance.

Forget the land and land creatures

with air pocket lungs and the need for direct sunlight.

These water creatures will work magic

and make you one with their own, so when the fire arrives

it will have no sovereignty over

your plumped-up water-bearing body.

     Go under, down inside a world without fire,

take your cup, where the weight and pressure

of the depths is enough justice to bear.

Get close to the Earth’s centre, find a soft place at the bottom.

Remember to love everything that goes by –

the eyeless and the ugly, those that creep and those that glow.

     Here your cup will be unnecessary,

but even so, here, it will remain always full.




Part Three – Why Not?






 (The Poet is not there to save you

The Poet is you)



Why not?



Why not

a sphere,

a monstrous breakthrough

breaking through the sphere

creating a gale, a flash, uncovering

a raging realm of heaven before



Why not the mountain

that was both shield and finish line

dissolved into the flossy ocean-sand

particles, sinking, dispersing over the vast

salt-saturated floor?


Why not love strong as a flock of geese

blazing a dark pattern over blue, or love

like a cave, deep underground where a ready-made

meal is found?


Why not the backbone

that was believed as backbone

a chunky armour removed,

and the hand coming in, pliant and warm,

finding skin and muscles rounded, pushing

into true intimacy?

Why not the heart a fish

with a coin in its mouth?

The warrior, now a mother and still

the same?


Why not a steady supply of nourishment,

everything found when needed, everything given

when asked?


Why not the gathered yarn, the knitted



Why not

the person on the bus sitting

in a suffering madness, just his eyes

looking down, teaching you

the unburnished treasure within

– compassion –

seasoned, for you, the world and all?






(a miracle witnessed)



Not a Dream



It will seem like a dream,

blanketing your shackles in light

until they vanish like a passing breath of



You will walk

and the iron gate will be unlocked and open.

At the intersection

you will know it is not a dream,

but a beautiful reckoning, a reconciliation

between reality and ideals.


What you value and keep,

and what you hand over

will equal in authority.

You will be escorted onto the path

in spite of practical obstacles.

In spite of the guarded prison cell,

your freedom will arrive,

gloriously and easefully.

You will get dressed and follow.


This is not a dream. There will be no blood spilt

to ensure your release. It will feel like a dream.

What you commit to will be your lead and your tether.

The shadow of tormented suffering will

be waved away by the angel’s magnificent hand.


The way will be cleared

and tomorrow

you will be rejoicing, opened,

remaining open.




Part Four – Coming Home






(kenneled in four sterile walls,

dig until your roots are exposed, weeping)



Forgiveness is Freedom



You open the door

knowing that light is mercy

and mercy is light.

Piece-by-piece has shifted

to the whole, split off

from attachment to personal sin,

from ego encased around your karma

that holds you pressed to it, believing in it,

living inside its loop like an unquestioned tradition.


You open the door and let go

of your individual inheritance

to know a flow between

yourself and heaven, without ritual

as catalyst, only God’s love

as completion, only

Jesus’s gift of utter anarchy.


Letting go of repetitive spiritual duties

that chip away at the rock because the song is sung

“There is no rock!” It has vanished, the burden

of blood and ancestry removed:

forgiveness in the depths,

freedom at the starting line.






(Interval of agony, elapsed)



The Answer



We must be a potion

mixed. Alone we have

potency and purpose still,

but combined is the breakthrough

explosion, the cry of light that

will grind heaven into sparkling

dust we can bathe our bodies in.

Let’s bathe, hand in hand, limb over limb,

relax in shimmering warm waters.


The guilt that was yours,

guilt for feeling responsible for choices

that were not yours, exorcise it,

burn that haunted palace down and construct

a new hut where we can live and make

a clean home in, pure from ghosts

and the blood bonds of false ownership.


I see you alive and blazing,

your chained foot unchained

and the sun warming your back.

I see you with two hands working their strength,

kneading this sick world with your voice

so strong it will spawn revelations, shape

spiritual fires, ladders from lightning bolts, splitting

the wheat from the chaff.


Be honoured you were chosen for this task.

How could you record it if you didn’t live it,

if you didn’t suck in the last

of its shame and suffering threshold,

choke on its dry and brittle pieces of bone?

So suck it in, take it into your bleeding esophagus,

then watch it dissolve, its frayed and familiar howling

vanished into a new-found brightness.


We must climb the high wall together.

Us, as one, or not at all.

That is the commitment of our marriage

 – spit and gore, glory and bond –


     Eccentric dancers, fierce creators,

     our shoulders as swords slicing the pie,

     casting off this second mortality,

     together, breaking the wind in two,

     being born in the space between, landed.



© Allison Grayhurst 2019



First published in “Synchronized Chaos” February 2019



You can listen to the poem by clicking below:





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


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:








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: