have you ever?

have you ever eaten
sweet potato

baked in its own skin, taken straight from the oven
still warm.

rough on your mouth
at first,

but then,

sweet

soft flesh,
opening orange
on your starved tongue

no fork
no knife
or plate,

not dressed up as anything
it is not.

hands taking what they want,

this gift.

— have you ever?

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Image by Ela Haney.
{Unsplash}.

there is beauty all around us.

this morning, i baked a tray of lovely sweet potatoes.

a poem found me in the soft, orange flesh.

a happy dance and a big reveal!

So… it has been months in the making, but I can finally share the cover of my first poetry collection.

Originally due in May, but life happened and 2019 turned out to be a profoundly difficult and heartbreaking year for me.

But, as the saying goes—better late than never!

‘Stripped’ is a collection of poems that I have shared here and also on my blog.

There are a few new poems in, but most of them will be familiar.

It was quite difficult to decide which poems to include, but my vision was that my first book would be a collection of poems that gave a voice to ‘unbecoming’ all the wrong that you were taught about love, your true worth in relation to your body image and finding your place in this world, to learning to live life with rebellious joy and growing into your own skin—learning to love yourself and finding the ‘beauty in the struggle’.

I am now working on my second collection, which will have a more spiritual thread running through it. I will also include my poems that have more of a nature theme as faith and nature walk side by side for me.

I shall keep you all updated on when the book and eBook go live on Amazon, but for now… I am (finally) able to do a happy dance!

Thank you for being present on my page, for reading my poetry and for your deep courage that you share so bravely, here!

You are all just lovely!

liezel

captive

i have tasted this poison before.

still i lift the cup again.

— captive.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

This is the second micropoem in my #HealingTheHurtChildWithin

series.

I don’t think that I need to elaborate on this one.

If this is you, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Sometimes, if we haven’t healed, we keep returning to the thing that holds us hostage.

For some of us this is an addiction—be it alcohol, food, sex, drugs, gambling… for others it is choosing a toxic relationship, or the same types of toxic partners because it’s all we know.

Perhaps it is choosing the same addictions or behaviours that owned the ones who love(d) you.

I would love to hear your insight into this,

liezel

Photography by Johann Piber.

fear has a hungry voice.

the fear that owns you

has a hungry

voice

falling

from

your

lips

when you are not looking.

— fear has a hungry voice.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

This is the first micropoem in my #HealingTheHurtChildWithin

series.

‘The fear that owns you…’

Childhood trauma or hurts that you have not dealt with, becomes another voice that lingers in the background.

It often speaks in anger, or in fear, when it shouldn’t.

It doesn’t speak up when it should.

It ignores things that it should not overlook.

It is easily triggered by things it shouldn’t be triggered by.

It says ‘yes’ when it wants to be loved, and ‘no’ when it is afraid of being loved.

When it speaks, it often leaves you wondering ‘why did I say that’ or ‘why do I react this way’?

It is a voice that is hungry—hungry to be loved, hungry to be found ‘enough’, hungry to be seen, hungry just to feel some sort of confirmation that there is still life and that it is worth living.

It always has a root.

I am still very aware of this other voice of mine. Healing has not been an overnight thing for me.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments,

liezel

Photography by Evie Shaffer.

a series of micropoems dealing with childhood trauma.

I have been working on a collection of micro poems that focus on the effects of (unhealed) childhood trauma, and disordered/chaotic relationships with primary caregivers on a child, and how they might affect the adult later on, and the way that these early traumas might then cause them to relate to relationships, love, (potential) addictions, their ability to handle conflict, and how they might as adults with deep emotional scars, negotiate their place in the world.

As always my poems are written partly from a personal place, and partly from my professional experience in mental health.

There is no right or wrong to my words, other than personal truth based on introspection, however there is nothing new under the sun and if you should find yourself in my description, please do look out for my posts in the next couple of days.

They be will short, sharp and sometimes bittersweet, but always I hope, a springboard for deeper reflection and healing.

Perhaps we can find some healing together,

liezel

Photography by Lisa Fotios.

woman, unhooked.

a man once told me,

if only you were smaller

i could love you — more, perhaps, if there was less

of you.

and if only i had seen

just

how

thin

he was,

in all the wrong places, and

just

how

little

there was to him, and his love,

perhaps

i would not

have lost

so much

of me.

but i was young, and i was soft

in all the right places, and

so i took every one of his words,

and i wallpapered my thighs,

and my hips, and my breasts, and my soul, until i was completely hidden, and it was the 6th day and it was still dark.

and later, others came, and said

you are too tall, and

i cannot see myself

when i am next to you,

and can’t you see that there has to be less of you and more of me, for the bible tells you so,

and

you

must

obey.

until they grew thicker — the layers — until they were walls.

and all i knew was how to live smaller, but never small enough.

until one night i heard my body weep, a year ago, or forty, or it might have been in the beginning when blame fell like blood on the first woman’s shoulders, and i said, no more.

no more will i carry this, and you had better look out, i am here now, and i will throw down this weight, and in the dark i ran my hands over my arms and my legs, and my hair and my toes. and i felt all the things that were stuck there, their hate and mine.

stuck, in all my softness, and i felt my belly — this ripe, round, roof, over this holy space within me that grew a whole child, and you dare say that i am not enough? and i said thank you for this — this life, and for his — this fresh, new life and i said thank you to my heart for beating, and beating, and beating, and never giving up on me,

despite my trying.

and i whispered love to my lungs for the breath, always the breath, that i now find in sacred stretches, and other holy places in the back of my eyes, where they could never, ever see, and i felt my breasts — full of beauty that gave life to a child, and they are not here for your amusement, and neither am i, and i have had enough.

and i ran my fingers over my skin, and my bones, and my past, and my hopes, and i unhooked every thing there — every word and everyone, until there was only

me

left.

here, in the light, and it is good.

— woman, unhooked.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Kourosh Qaffari.