Monthly Archives: February 2014

Oh, Canada

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It was – 18 in Central Ontario
When you pulled out a sand dollar from behind my ear
And kissed me with lips that burned with the salt of Halifax harbours.
I asked myself if I was ready for this love
Born too soon from being alone too long
But my synapses were as frozen as Rankin Inlet
Leaving my mind as barren as tundra.
It reminded me of how awkward my tongue felt
When I tried to speak French in Montreal
As if a language taught in high school sixteen years ago
Could prepare me for accent aigu and accent grave
Before the diacritical mark of coffee appeared before me in the morning.

I let you take me home with you
Like a dropped mitten retrieved from a puddle crusted over with ice
Is shoved once more into a parka’s pocket.
I stepped into the tracks a stranger’s boots left in the snow
Because I was afraid of falling in too deep with you
And of being consumed by something deceptively beautiful.
We laid on your Saskatchewan – flat bed
As stars broke through sky like holes punched into black construction paper
The moon shining Alberta rye golden.
I shivered when your fingers traced love notes across my skin
My nipples as tall and hard as the Rocky Mountains
While I watched my breath make clouds over your shoulder.

You portaged my trembling thighs speaking dialects of gas stations and dinosaur bones
Singing stories of cowboy boots striking plywood boards in rhythm with guitars in country bars
Whispering nickel mines and tobacco farms
Until my eyes turned into the Bay of Fundy,
Tears spilling high tide on the beach of my cheeks
Only to dry and then return.
We rattled together like china cups in a cupboard during an earthquake in British Columbia
Some tremors merely disturbing the dust on our rims
Others causing an avalanche off shelves and counter tops.

I was the haunted cry of a solitary loon.
You were the clicking of a humpback whale’s echolocations.
We were both trying desperately to find someone to make sense of our hearts’ geography
Cardiac countryside that varied from Pacific to Atlantic Ocean
Filled with the bones of diverse peoples who had inhabited those lands
Long before we colonized each other.

Sometimes, on winter nights when I sleep with socks on
With you wrapped around me like train tracks
I slide my hand under my pillow to touch that sand dollar
And I remember that no matter where we go
We are always home.
I am always home.

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This work, “Oh, Canada” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The Man Who Died Alone With A Needle In His Arm

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Failing at life. Wrote a poem instead. This is the glamour of artistry, Folks.

They say he died alone with a needle in his arm.
Everyone is horrified, shocked:
How could someone so talented, so famous, so important,
Be found on the floor of his apartment with only a syringe for company?
This isn’t the way we envision our heroes dying.
We want them brandishing swords in Scotland or shooting guns in the old west;
We want them taken suddenly from us in airplane crashes and car wrecks;
We want their blood to spill across the flagstones so that we can splash around in it;
Stain our clothes with it,
Save it in little vials that we can sell on E-bay.
We don’t want to know what made him feel he needed to start the day with stainless steel and diamorphine,
Instead of a cup of joe and a bagel like everybody else.
We want to know who found the body.
We want to know who pulled the sharp out of his rigid corpse
And whether they were tempted to slide it into their pocket for later.

How can someone so popular feel so neglected?
Maybe because we look into the faces of those around us to find reflections of G-d,
And when this man walked into a room, everyone’s faces only reflected his own image,
Like some sort of nightmare masquerade where the guests were all dressed up like him.
Events became haunted houses, friends become carnival mirrors,
Offering only warped interpretations of truth.
In the end, he only knew himself.
Hell is a place where you wake up alone, go to sleep alone,
And there’s nothing in between except for more alone.
Sure, you may kiss your wife, shake someone’s hand, or buy a pack of gum from a kid at 7-11,
But when your entire reality is a staged photo shoot
Where those most authentic, most rotten, most bruised fruit pieces of yourself are scooped out
And dumped into a pie crust made of plaster and turpentine
To create a stunning depiction of what isn’t even remotely real
You get a little confused when something that looks so good on the plate sits like lead in your guts.

Or maybe, the aching loneliness was because we treated him like a commodity
Took the beautiful parts of him and chopped them into smaller and smaller pieces hoping to make a bigger profit,
Told him that the parts of himself that mattered the most were the ones he displayed on command like a trained monkey.
No one wants to see the latest Sears portrait of your kids creased in your wallet,
But we all want you to drop your drawers and hold some cologne or soda or booze in front of your genitals…keep selling [click], keep selling [click], keep selling [click]…now break.
It’s not about him being an actor.
It’s not about a waste of talent or throwing away a gilded life.
It’s about a human being who lived with voices in his head,
Who lived with ghosts that darted in between the flashes of paparazzi cameras.
A human being who came home one night heavy with the weight of it all,
Who loaded the only weapon he knew how to use,
And engaged in the only self-care he felt available to him.
It’s about a man who died alone, with a needle in his arm.

Creative Commons License
This work, “The Man Who Died Alone With A Needle In His Arm” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.