The Journey Continued in Four Parts
Part One – The Step
(barren metallic fields,
a harvest ready to haul, infested,
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.
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.
Sink the Cup
(the more love given,
the more meaning received)
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)
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
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
Why not a steady supply of nourishment,
everything found when needed, everything given
Why not the gathered yarn, the knitted
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
you will be rejoicing, opened,
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)
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
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net”, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1200 poems published in over 475 international journals and anthologies. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com