Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

The Journey Continued in Four Parts

Part One – The Step

Allison Grayhurst




























(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.


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)

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

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