The Vigil

22.Dimitry R.

The Vigil


I am the promise you have broken

I am the vow you have never spoken

I am the one true story you cannot revoke

And as you sing your silence to the silence that will follow

I am the unsung glory there


I am the voice at the hollow of every prayer

That fills you with love

And empties you of despair

I am unfailingly there


I am the future you have ruined

I am the past you have existed through

I am the part of you that is still

And always true


When you imagine nothing is left

To do and feel

The world crashing in apologies

Sackcloth and ash

I am the light at the center of the flameless fire

Extinguishing pain and desire

With a love that comes to take you home

Where I always am


Where I am still


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Dimitry R.





Earth Day, 2019


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Flower Fruit


Flower Fruit


Here in the heart of the conduit

Where I put the past behind me

I take my own life in stock

So I can move on with it, lock and key


I keep all of it inside me

I feel all of it moving, shaking

I feel the sides rattling, the bones breaking

And the battle unmaking my best intentions


I avoid other people

And their kind interventions

I hear their voices rise from the trenches

Their cries, butterflies of sound

Leaving men underground forever unfound

While the day quenches itself with blue fire


This is the great adventure

The story they came here for

The fictional selves they built for the war

This is the amusement park of young boys

Tasting the dark meat of the historical beast

The blood and guts of the interminable feast

That eats the night

With an insatiable appetite for quiet


I quell tonight’s riot

And put down the crazy rebels

Who yell curses at my best blessings

Disrupt my confessions

And blow out the candles in the church

But there is no handle

I feel my insides lurch and buck

I feel a total disbelief in luck or fortune

Kneeling where the wax congeals

Over lost hope on the stone

Feeling nothing and everything alone

Calling god’s name

And only hearing my own weakness

I am so lost

I seek only relief


Then it comes

The full force of grief

Shaking the forest, shaking the tree

Shaking the leaf that now falls softly

By letting go

We finally see; we can finally hear

Finally we know we must say yes

When all that is left is a low hum

Of what used to be

The scar of you leaving me

Them leaving us

The color of rust in the dirt


I cannot feel this hurt—

Recursive years now turned to salt

The burn of evaporating tears

Time steering us toward its dry ending—

But I can feel you

My own

The lost one inside me

But never coming home

The boy who lies under earth

I bear witness to you


I write my name on your imaginary stone

And relight the candle

That flickers in this dark cavern

The wick of a higher power sparkling


You are not lost

You are here with me in this hour

I am the flower of your grave

Where a few tears wet the future

Of our wisdom

Learning to live, to love, to die

To let go

To grow seeds

That flower from this sour fruit


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Jordan Whitt






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Planet Gentry

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Planet Gentry


Your language

Is locked tighter than a filing cabinet

Full of documents with many clauses

Strict and tidy conversations with important pauses

Where the feelings ought to be

You are the king of the letter C, for contract

For contractions that do not lead to birth or life

For concepts

That you wield with the edges of a knife-like wit

That sits in the safeness of your words

Like baskets of snakes in a cobra pit


Your commas and colons

Your periods and apostrophes

Are the lost cousins of other people’s catastrophes

You measure their losses with your usurious gain

Imprisoned in jargon

And held in word hospitals for the insane


There is no rhyming word for mutual

You should not let it cross your lips

You are a captain of industry

And of dark pirate ships

That sink the horizon of the future

And drown the race in greed

And well-articulated arguments

That no one can erase or concede


You are viciously polite

Commanding surrender

With your terms of agreement

You are the smiling pretender

Stealing what was never yours to take

You are the warden of our silences

You are the violent offender

With no stakes but your own


And one day

When the earth shakes hard enough in her distress

You’ll be alone to confess to your maker

You were a taker


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Hunters Race






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All Done

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All Done


I don’t allow myself to speak


I hold myself in silent self-

Excoriation, self-crucifixion

Remorseless in my self-



AndI’m bored


I am so bored

And ready to throw

The whole thing into a Cuisinart

Chop it up

And feed it to a water buffalo


I am starting

To get angry with

And embarrassed by

These words

I want to break the seal

On my lips

Break the seal on my hips

Swirl into oblivion


(Is this even a poem?)


I feel more alive

When I bite hard into life

Bite until I feel the bone


Bite past hatred

And the gristle of grief

Bite right through

Bitter, harsh sinew and tissue

Bite hard teeth

Into my mother’s beliefs


And then sink

Deeper and deeper

Into the low, bloody tone

That hums in the marrow

And asks for quiet


I will be made of stone

Yet still bite with the fury of a riot

Into myself

Into kryptonite


I am drowned

In fat, stupid drops of pain

I am a storm of human rain

I’ll drench the earth with tears

UntilI am a ghost

And still I bite through

To what I seek most—

My fears


Now let me eat doubt

Let me swallow shame

Let me hold the volcano

Of my unspeakable self


And let me rest

In ash and flame


When I bite through me

All the way through

I can see that we are much the same

Me and you


That all my rage and hatred

Was never wasted


It was always just myself

I tasted


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Adrianna van Groningen






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Night’s Dominion

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Night’s Dominion


The sky turns hazel over the desert

Insulting the day with green bruises

The rocks are pink above gray

And a single hawk cruises overhead

Watching the sun sink

As if it had over stayed its welcome


We’ve always watched and prayed

And bled

Have rarely gone where braver angels go


We dwell in caves; we flock

And take our refuge

In the rock’s arrested grace


The earth turns a sad crimson

A cunning illusion convincing the eye

Of its former beauty

The sky is a safer place above the clouds

But the weather daemon flashes streaks of light

Across our path

Turning us back

To where god’s cage is



Where we flock

Where we have fled

Fallen broken on the cliffs

Where we have overcome our loss

Where we have also loved

And taken scraps of bread

Into our hollow bodies

Taking solace in this rock

Of ages



By Julie Flanders

Photo by Daniel Burka





We encourage you to share this poem


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All Assembled

16. Notre Dame. Photo by Emil Adler

All Assembled


The towers rise where the horizon begins

Giant, mute, silver-haired twins

Cut of the same shape

Throwing sharp blue into a gray landscape


Yesterday you told me about a faun

Playing with the crows

Chasing them until they flew away

Back where your garden grows a little wild


Do the crows know the faun is a child

Do they also love to play

Or are they just too lazy to fly

All the way away


The city is so much a part of me

I can hardly imagine the country today

I wonder what I love about this place

The bridges, the buildings, the waterfront

The fiercely stated, manmade grace


I know these mountains

Wrought in blood and glass

And know they can’t compete

With the wonder of earth and grass

That gently falls over the hills where you live


But still I love this city

And all that it exhausts itself to give me

I love the chirping in its sidewalk trees

I love the squirrels and the pigeons

And that lonely, little paper bag

That moves by me on a breeze


There is something odd about this fragile world

Pretending to be so powerful

When all it wants is to be curled up in itself

With all its people tucked inside a church

Leaving the doors open wide


I know what it is—

This is a sacred space

An altar to our nature as creators

Who embrace our own divine urge

To feel life move through us

And to watch it emerge

Like your flowers

Or like those two towers

That try to touch the sky

Before bending back to the earth


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Emil Adler





We encourage you to share this poem


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Under the Bed Box

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Under the Bed Box


A hand-painted photo of your mother and father

A picture of you feeding the ducks at Edgemont Pond

A Polaroid of you with your brothers

A memory of the dress your grandmother brought back from Sweden

The ribbon you wore in your hair on your fourth birthday

(The day you passed your hand through the candle flame

The way you had seen your brotherdo before you

But your mother hadn’t yelled at him, only at you)

Your first piano lesson

Or more importantly, your second piano lesson

When your teacher dropped her jaw

To let your mother knowshe thought you were talented

The day you learned to macramé

And the day you learned to braid your own hair

So that when it unraveled

Everyone might think you had natural curls

The way you wanted

To be like the other girls

The time you wona big award for playing the piano

The secret garden of story and sound in your bedroom

The first suitcase you ever packed

The first time you traveled to another city

With your boyfriend

The home you had to leave and thought you lost

But foundagain

Hearing your son play


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Annie Spratt







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