Forsaken Voices



Audio version is below.

Forsaken Voices


Like a river
deep underground
pushed down into the depths
where they can’t be known
in the light of day
these forsaken voices
like clear-pooled water
collect together
woven in rivulets
meander through time
waiting for something
waiting for someone


How rich is this water
generations of heartache
lineage of wisdom
matrilines of power.
I am the river,
in this time
there is no other outlet
no other mouth
no other gateway
for these forsaken voices.


Generations of damming
centuries of cast-down eyes
ears grown cold
mouths sewn shut
and repeated lies told
the pressure pushes back against
walls too tired to hold.


When I am still, quiet, and alone
these forsaken voices
stir the marrow of my bones.


Deeper than the water
runs the grief untold
no one soul can tolerate
the pain of women who’ve come before
and told to suffer it alone.
My mother, her mother, her mother, and her’s before
still woven like a river
gather underground
pool together in wisdom circles
where seeds of light collect
knowing spring
one day will come.


I lie in bed
signs of pleurisy all around
water pooling, collecting
in my lungs only to be known
when the grief takes hold
seeds deeply rooted in lungs
that reach back to
generations untold.


These forsaken voices
buried deep underground
can only breathe through
flesh and blood daughters
who now live in their lungs
breathing light into cells
waking oxygen
where none has been known.


I am the river
my sisters and I pool together
our collective voices now ready
to irrigate our parched world
with deep blue love from
aquifers too-long guarded


It is time to speak of
cool waters of knowing
deep rivulets of wisdom
flesh plump with blood.


There can never be wholeness when voices are silenced.
There can never be peace without dignity for all.



Image is ‘Donau-Seitenarm’  by Konstantinos Dafalias, Creative Commons 2.0
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17 Replies to “Forsaken Voices”

  1. For two days, I have been immersed in writing about women’s rituals, women’s spirituality and to read this now and then hear you read it was simply perfect and divine synchronicity. Julie – you rock.

  2. I’ve read and listened to this several times. Each time shivers reverberating from my depths. You are heard!

      1. It’s hearing the lineage that softens the wounds of dysfunction with great compassion. Thank you, Julie. Love, Carolyn

        1. Carolyn,
          It’s funny. Yes, this came down through my lineage in some way…although my mother, and hers, etc., were very strong women, very vocal in many ways. There was no outer silencing happening, nothing visible really. And, as it came through me, I saw my lineage, and I saw the collective. This poem is about the collective silencing of women, and it is personal as well, because the centuries of silencing women has affected us all.
          I was interested in your word dysfunction. It wasn’t a word I would use from the feeling of the poem coming through. The feeling that came through was so much stronger, but not of psychological relational dysfunction, but more of a collective silencing.
          Thank you for commenting again. It is helpful, as I am really listening for the impact of these words. Love, Julie

  3. These last couple of years as I have worked on healing my own grief and pain after enduring detention and removal and what that brought forth, I have often felt that just like we can connect thru love and be one with all, the same opens up for the collective pain, just like you describe through lineage. Thus the pain is not solemnly ours but by dealing with ours, hopefully we also liberate some of those who have been silenced. I am so tired of the cheerful “put the past behind you”-pep talks who thereby seems to just silence further and sweep everything under the rug instead of pulling it out and dealing with it so it can be released and give room for something improved and integrated. Loved listening to your poem and found it more moving than reading it. I have also experienced poems coming thru me at times and it is such a gift to be that channel. May you be for many more 🙂

    1. Alexandra, I can’t imagine the pain and grief of what you experienced. It’s amazing how even if we try to put the past behind us, if we haven’t dealt with the pain and grief, it is still there…we’ve just tried to cover it up – and it can’t be liberated. So glad you liked the audio…I’ve been meaning to do it sooner. I like it, too! It’s fun.
      May you as well, dear. May you as well.
      With much love, Julie

  4. when voices are silenced, squelched, prohibited – the words may seep out in other distorted ways creating dysfunction. Silence- what is not said when something desperately should be – can cause a lot of dysfunction. I am always amazed at what people hear in another’s writing which is not necessarily intended by the author. It’s what makes poetry art.

    1. Carolyn, I see. Yes. I continue to be amazed at what others here. ANd, I love your point that it is what makes poetry art. Our conversation has helped me see that.
      Love to you, Julie

  5. Working with my age old, and this week, versions of silencing, I’m touched and buoyed by your writing Julie.
    Hearing this made fluid in me, something that had been stirred but wasn’t yet fluid, and linked up the lineage of what was, what is and what I can usefully do with it in the world.
    That I exist, and that was inconvenient for someone then and someones now.
    That feelings in business exist but are often not welcome, they can highlight inconvenient truths, inequality.
    I’m so very happy at this fluidity, coming from being deeply touched by your words. Thank you, so very much.

    1. Pauline,
      I’m so glad the writing has made something fluid in you. These words that come through are meant to be spoken, voiced; meant to be heard by others. We never know the full effects of doing so, but when someone tells me, like you have done here, that they were affected in such a way, I know even more clearly that our creativity, meaning the fullest expression of who and what we are, is meant to be shared and voiced. With much love to you, Julie

  6. You are graciously, embodied lovely. Thank you for your voice, courage, generosity, wisdom and genius. The intro to the poem is as rich as the poem itself. xxo

  7. I have only just come across your site Julie. I have just listened to you reading your poem. It stirred something captured inside. Deep inside I am fierce and wild and strong, and I am dancing with a furious wild passion, that nobody sees…I wonder why?

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