The Past Life of K

Past Life of K.louis-blythe-218678-unsplash


I was with you

And I was so afraid of the silence

And the mistakes we made

But I followed you into safety

Or what I thought was safe


And we went up a mountain

To a place in the sky

Where a soldier was drilling

And I saw into his face

And I thought to myself

I would never want to be

This poor boy on his way in


And down a corridor

I walked through a door

And I realized I was a boy

SuddenlyI was a boy

So I began practicing

Fighting, drilling


And I looked at myself

And felt thunder and lightning

But it wasn’t a sign from god

Only the distant fire I heard

And I looked at myself

But could not form a word

I saw only a boy’s face

Only full of hate


And I floated above what had becomeme

And I realized I had to unite with me

In the body of a boy


And I felt my arms

My hands, my legs

But could no longer feel myself

And I felt the battle

Beginning to move in me

And I felt myself growing

As strong as a boy

As strong as a man


And I knew things I’d never known before

And something inside me said

To enjoy the fight

This is all right

And if I am a boy

Then it must be god’s will

That I learn for god’s sake


But the first boy I killedwas all by mistake

We were all so afraidthen

He got in my way

And I saw that his face was nothing like mine

At the time

Only his face was just like mine


So I shot

And saw him fly back like a bird

And I was so glad that it was not me

That it was him instead of me

And I wanted to run

Like a woman

Like a girl

I wanted to run

But I didn’t want to be weak


And a part of me floated up

And a part of me looked down

At a boy who kills and can feel ill

And so I felt so ill

I wandered somewhere

Where there was a girl like me

Soft and prettylike me


But a whoresmiled at me

And closed the door


And I finally felt safe

And there in her arms I thought

I never want to be a boy again

And she kissed me

And I saidamen

Thank you, god


And as suddenlyas I felt her kiss

I pushed her away

And she asked me what was wrong


And I looked at my hands

And I looked at my legs

And I touched my skin

And I knew that I was still in

The body of a boy

The body of a man

Who had just killed a boy

And was about to kiss a girl

And was about to make for her

A world without fear


I pushed the fear out of me

And into her

I pushed myself into her

And I felt myself strong

And it felt good for the first time

To be a man

It felt good and I could finally understand

Why it’s so good

To be someone who is the stronger one

The physically stronger one


And a part of me split

And I felt myself break open

Into the body of a girl

And I felt him move into me

Becoming me

And I gave myselfover

To all of his pain


And I knew I would be

What would finally remain

What was brokenand heartless

What was simple and pure

And I knew right then

I would choose


I would choose

To be a girl


And I was a baby

In my mother’s arms

And she kissed me and loved me

And kept me from harm

And my father had eyesso green

Like the grass

And I loved him


And I forgave him


I forgive you

For being weak

And for being strong

And I forgive you

For being beautiful

And I forgive you

For being a boy


And I forgive myself

For being broken

And ashamed


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Louis Blythe



Posted in October Project, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Spoke That’s All

We Spoke.debora-cardenas-500580-unsplash


And then I compared

You with me

Height, youth

Nails, hair

Just the things I could see

You are

That I will never be



Could you write a poem?

Could you win me in a dare?


You could steal my husband


That is some dress

You decided to wear


When I am so jealous

I turn green

I feel my skin

Hard and metal

As an old machine churning

Its unoiled parts


I look at you

And I see whole kingdoms

Of broken hearts


I will never be able to

Compete with that

I will never be

Young, sweet

Smart, strong

And coming up to bat


I am on the other side

Of life’s roller coaster

I am the bread that got cooked

And then left in the toaster

I am the butter

That has to be scraped

From the butter dish

The bones

That didn’t quite get picked

Out of the fish

Before it was served


I am old-ish


I am the car

Without power steering

That swerved

To avoid hitting

A wall of fog

Or cement that curved

Around some hidden bend


I am a bog

A hollow log in the rain

I am a bitter fountain

Of complain


Sometimes I still pretend

I will like what I see

In the mirror

That I will wake up

Soft and juicy

And full of spunk


Sometimes I embrace

The delusion

That I am a fresh doughnut

Ready to dunk


But then

I remember you

And I flunk

In my self esteem


My own dream

And I realize


I am still the swelling


That sank and dissolved

I am still sunk


I am the stale potato

Growing green bits

I am the smell

Left over

After the skunk

Lifts its tail


I am the sad, mean

Tooth-loosing monk

With the dirty pail

Who shaves her head

Because her hair

No longer matters

And gives away her ponytail

So a poorer person

Can make a wig


I am the grub-digger

Eating bugs

I am the stuff that collects

Under rugs


That’s how close I feel

To dead

When I look at you

You take

Whatever good is left

Of me

And that is everything

You steal


But how do you feel?

For that’s what really matters

That’s what stays un-cracked

When my looking glass shatters


I’ll smile and I’ll ask

How are you?

That will be my task


I will make you

My spiritual freedom teacher

I will assign you

To myself

I will pretend that you are

Someone I could love

If I could

Only love myself


Let me learn

To love you

Let me learn

To share this world

To let you win

To be that girl

That one

They will always choose


Let me lose


Let me learn

To not compare

Let me suffer this

And still choose



Let me choose

To dare


By Julie Flanders

Photo By Debora Cardenas



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I Can Hear the Teapot Whistle

23. teapot whistle.claire-brear-596161-unsplash

The kitchen table

Is littered with dead roses

And a spray of thistle


The whole day

Has an undertow

That belongs to someone else


Sadness is not what you meant

To bring here


I find myself

Entwined in the thickness

Of every living–dead thing here


The whole scene

Has an afterglow

That is half–full of someone else


Missing you

Is not what I meant to do


What I meant to do

Was to dance

Until the whole house shook

I meant to visit every nook

And corner of this place


To rescue you

From every space that you inhabit

To find what’s left of you

And grab it

So that I could keep it

Deep inside of me


Where I am empty

Without you


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Morning Farewell

Morning Farewell.nasa-63032-unsplash

You pull the throttle
Until the engines burn
A ferocious turn
Ready now
To scorch the sky
You fly beyond the flint
Of your concern

There is so much
You see from here
The land
The coast
The hemisphere
You see the mountains
Rise and cough
You see the ocean
Shrug the morning off

Now you shed
Your fiery tail
A creature built
To sail the quiet
Space you seek
But can you occupy it

Now the noise
Retracts to calm
Take your capsule
Major Tom
As ground control
A tiny voice
Reminds you
That you have a choice

Close your eyes
And feel the darkness
Or open them
And take a magic carpet
Ride across
The tragic emptiness

See yourself
In this convection
Space and time
And your reflection inward

Dream of earth
And dream of Mars
Dream a highway
Made of stars

You used your life
To build this rocket
Take it skyward
Towards god’s pocket
Where time ticks more gently
Until it stops
And you leave us
With your rhapsody

Collapse the distance
To eternity
As you take this vow

To be the one
To be the future
To be the always



By Julie Flanders

Photo:  NASA



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Coming To

22. Coming To.brandon-couch-1925-unsplash

The rage of azaleas

Trim the porch

Where you sit


You will never fit

Back into the box

You arrived in


You want so much

To return

To find something


That holds you here

In the familiar


Where you are

Not yourself



There is a new mother

Up these steps

She is as unfamiliar

As the crazy extras

On the movie sets

You used to visit


Other fictions

Other dreams


And this other mother

Who holds a newborn

As it screams

For all the right reasons


You have seen

This porch

Through every season

It is yours


You are a stranger

At these doors


Your own mother

Is long dead

Your own daughter is

Still being born

In some imaginary bed


No one can midwife

The past

And the future

Never comes


It just stays

In the present

Where you sit

Between the azaleas

And listen

To the beat

Of dead drums


By Julie Flanders

Photo by Brandon Couch



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What Vibrates

21. What Vibrates.ever-wild-540943-unsplash

Sometimes it hides

In the strange


Of the refrigerator


For a moment



It is the unexpected


From the hallway


Or the rush of voices

From the street


The music finds itself

In the silence


Silence is the bones

Of it

The sense

And meaning


For all those


And unsound


That pretend to be



They are



In this imaginary


Where silence


Beyond time and space

There is a sudden



We cease to




Or see


We are simply free


By Julie Flanders

Photo by everwild



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Tick Tock

18. Tick Tock. time-1339975

There is a reason for the hush

In the atmosphere

You can almost see

Everything stop from here

The traffic, the people

All thought

Of the future

You stand there staring

At the clock

Cut through every suture

That used to hold the past


There is nothing it seems

That will last

Nothing that can


You say you are still

A believer

From the bottom to the top

You are right

Up there waiting

For the year to start

The ball to drop


You are going

To be different now


Will never be the same

You are not sure

Who you should thank for this

You are not sure

Who you should blame


For now the sky is full

Of fire

A kaleidoscope of flame


But at least we are all together

Flattering ourselves

That we are ready

To scatter the ashes of the year before

As if it were confetti


Some things are over

Some things are ending

You are going

To have to do some serious pretending

To get to the other side

Of these next few years


But we are all standing here


Holding fear like a flower

Watching the hands of the clock


Into the hour ahead



Make a wish

Find a star

This is who you have always been

This is who you always are


By Julie Flanders


Posted in Love, New Year, October Project, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment