you are allowed to say ‘no’ when your name is called

you can say no, when it comes knocking

—the world, wearing its damp, grey coat.

ugly in places.

scowling like a thing that eats loveliness and hope, beauty too.

take your feet, your spine and cover your eyes, your heart—do not look.

not yet.

down the stairs—see the dead spider, the broken crane flies—legs like pick-up-sticks.

in the corner

the dust—this is not ugly, not really.

it just pretends to be, so don’t

get distracted here.

keep moving, leave by the front door, let yourself out.

hold on.

—are you still carrying your heart?


don’t leave it behind.

that’s how you get taken in, devoured

by looking over your shoulder

one more time, by thinking

‘if i give them one more word, one more piece of me—serve my softness on a plate.’

people disappear like this, you know—turn into a hard shape.

be careful with the silken sides

of you, your borders.

you don’t have to answer, even if it calls your name—speaks your language, sounds

like every war you still feel like fighting.


walk until you get to the corner, past the white church—before you get to the shop, the crossing where the children ride their bikes—oblivious.

you know where to go—that little spot where the dandelions are, and the bees.

—the light.

that sea of yellow.

go straight there and be astonished, stand in wonder.

be reminded that you are alive.

you don’t have to prove it by fighting.

unfurl the tightness of your life.

if nobody has ever told you this, listen—let it go.

it is allowed.

— you are allowed to say ‘no’ when your name is called.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Isaac Li Shun Tang.

a little poem about ugliness (in the world) and finding yourself distracted by things that call your name.

know that you do not have to go along, get swept up in things that leave you feeling hopeless or angry.

you get to choose what you allow into your heart, your life.

for me today, that meant leaving certain social media platforms—twitter, for one—choosing what to ‘eat’—what i nourish myself with.

the world can be an angry place.

there are many things—and some are important—that call to us, shout at us, manipulate us into war.

you are allowed to walk away, find the things that bring you beauty—find yourself again.

stay—where you can eat peace, where you can be the light.


Image by Isaac Li Shun Tang

2 thoughts on “you are allowed to say ‘no’ when your name is called

  1. There remains such deep gratitude that you passed across my path. Oh sweet gratitude! Your cadence and art keep the heart beating the oxygen of life! You are loved. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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