first person, singular.

i was born a fire walker.

i did not want to feel the skin blister under my feet; smell the scorched offering that i was forced to become, but

the fire still came for me.

i had no choice.

and i have seen many things burn down into nothing.

i have thrown ash into the wind—watched it blow away

all the things that my young mouth promised before i knew that i would fail

at this.

and i have sat down by the rivers of babylon

and i have wept.

over and over,

i have peeled my skin off, only to put it back on in the morning.

i was stretched tight in all the wrong places and nobody knew

but me.

and after all the tears i thought i didn’t have, fell from me like rain,

i stood up,

on my new legs, and

i made tea as a new day birthed itself

inside of me.

i poured water into the teapot, the one with the pink flowers, that you gave to me, and

you have always known how to give beauty to me, despite who i am.

despite what i couldn’t be.

in the soft winter rain i saw a gift of light in the clouds over the old kilpatrick hills, and

a rainbow.

not one, but two.

one for me and one for you.

and i knew the days of pretending were over.

i have stripped them from my back, and i have lost feathers, and skin.

but i have done it.

it is done.

i don’t have to pretend anymore.

the fire came for me and i ate it.

— first person, singular.

© Liezel Graham 2020.

Photograph by Grahame Jenkins.

With a grateful nod to songwriters Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of the Jamaican reggae group ‘The Melodians’, who wrote the song ‘The Rivers of Babylon’.

a new year’s song.

the year is dying in my hands

and

i am filling my apron

with a feather

for hope,

and

tiny bits of tumbled sea glass

for courage.

when the waters rise,

they will not wash over me.

a pinch of faith,

you only need a little,

and

a quilt of mercy

to warm my heart

that

at

times

has

loved

so coldly.

i will guard the spring.

guard it fiercely,

so that only

love

will

flow,

but i know

that i am cut from rough cloth

and

grace

is the bread that keeps me alive,

and you.

so

i will give

and give

and give,

until

we cannot see

who we once were,

for all the love.

that,

is how they will recognise us.

the broken ones.

not the knowledge.

not the perfection.

not the raised eyebrow,

but

the

love.

it’s how i recognised you,

when

all

i had known was failure.

you loved me first,

and

never

stopped.

and i will not worry about

my hips

or

my wrinkles

or

my yesterdays

or

my tomorrows.

i am held.

and because i am the one,

that

one,

who deserves an entire parable.

yes.

the one

who wanders

and

strays

into thickets

and

thorns,

where others see the danger,

i will remember that i was searched for

over and over,

every time

and

i too will

search

when others get lost.

i will not be the pointing finger,

but

the open hand that says,

here i am.

let me be

a light in a glass jar,

shining

in spite of it all.

— a new year’s song.

© Liezel Graham 2018.

Photograph by Anshu A.

{a repost from 2018}.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your tremendous support, your friendship, your encouragement, your willingness to be vulnerable and your courage in sharing your hurts and your joys, here on my page!

You are all so beautiful!

2020 will be a tremendously exciting year for me. I have a recording session lined up in January where I shall be recording a selection of my poems, my second book will be published in March and I have been afforded a wonderful opportunity to teach on vulnerability and creativity in April (more to come on that later in the year).

I shall also be starting a group off this page for those of you who want to explore writing as therapy, or as a healing tool in your own life — a safe space where you can share your writing, ask for feedback from others (or not), enjoy writing prompts and perhaps just find your feet as a writer. More on that in the new year and it doesn’t matter where you are in terms of skill — this will be a space to heal.

I wish you a spacious, honest New Year,

liezel

faith | new names from old.

black birds flying darkly

up

and

down

the spine of my life.

i give them names

that sound like light.

faith

falling

brazenly

from my mouth.

— faith | new names from old.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photograph by Matti Johnson.

Sometimes the black birds of fear, shame and guilt will fly up and down your life… they like to go far back into your past and remind you of all the reasons you have failed. They like to fly into your future and prophecy that things will never work out; that you are not deserving of the things your heart dreams of.

You might listen to what they whisper.

But you don’t have to.

Give them new names—new names from the old ones.

Handmade names that sound like light.

For all the things that you are hoping for, let faith fall brazenly from your mouth.

liezel

may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

i have carried a young poem

in my hands for days

now, but

in this year

where i have had to

strike rocks in the desert

just to taste a drop of water,

i have nothing left to make it

holy,

these words in my cupped hands.

nothing to dress it up with.

somewhere

between march

and

september,

i ran out of gold,

frankinscense

and

myrrh.

but still,

this poem wants life,

wants to bring red velvet hope

where there is straw, and

a friend said

to me,

as i undressed my heart,

have a gentle christmas,

and

may it be honest.

so i am holding this up,

instead.

this word.

honest.

lifting it high above my life tonight,

like a star.

a compass.

not merry.

not bright.

but a light,

nonetheless.

— may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

© Liezel Graham 2019.

Photography by Annie Spratt.

sharing a little freeform writing with you on this eve before christmas.

if this year was hard for you—mine has been—losing both my gran and my brother in the space of a couple of months, knocked the wind right out of me, and if you are missing the breath of people you love, if you have lost a part of yourself, or if you have no idea how tomorrow, or next year will look…

then i wish you a gentle, honest christmas.

it doesn’t have to be merry.

it doesn’t have to be bright.

may all your days be honest, and may you be honest about all your days.

know that you are loved,

liezel

my deepest thanks to my beautiful friend, Lisa, for giving me the gift of an honest christmas.