Monthly Archives: July 2014

Since This Is Apparently Something People Are Very Concerned About.

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We all have defense mechanisms. Mine is to make jokes about things that really hurt my feelings because then I can trick myself into thinking that I’m not vulnerable and hopefully get home before I start crying. Today, I’m tapping into my inner Dr. Seuss in the hopes that I can deal with all the green eggs and ham being handed to me! This is probably the only time I will post a poem that contains any rhyming. Enjoy!

My hair. My hair.
Oh, why do you care?
My hair. My hair.
You stop and you stare.
You judge and you dare to speculate about who I am and what I stand for, the colour of my skin and the history of my people.
My hair. My hair.
Whether it’s on my head or growing down “there” – is making assumptions fair?
My hair. My hair.
When you are done racial profiling and musing on my hair styling, can we please get back to the issues at hand?
Like, say, stolen land?
Must I always keep my cultural credentials on hand to justify to strangers that I have the right to exist?
My hair. My hair.
You won’t be my friend because of my dreaded ends.
We can’t “flock up” because I locked up.
My hair. My hair.
Oh, why do you care?
You won’t talk to me at the slam
Because of who you think I am.
You won’t shake my hand
But feel safe to demand
That my body meets your personal standards for “appropriate”.
Somebody call the police!
A person of suspicious appearance is causing interference
Simply for not looking the way you want them to!
My hair. My hair.
Oh, why do you care?
I bless your curses and your cast stones as I adorn my hair with feathers and bones.
I am proud of who I am and what I stand for because my hair is for G-d and nothing more.
My hair. My hair.
This “hairstyle” will always be MY style because it is the LIFEstyle I believe in,
My truth and my fire, the voice of my heart’s desire.
My hair. My hair.
The ones who I want to care?
They break bread with me and we pray for all to be free.
I hold their babies and they hold my heart.
We call each other “Sister”, “Brother”, “Friend”, and “Lover” before we depart.
My hair. My hair.
Oh, why do you care?
My ancestors were there.
My ancestors were here.
My history is so much more than what you see, so I don’t need you to believe in me
Nor do I need your certificate of authenticity.
I know the colour of the blood in my veins.
I know the which pages of history my blood stains are on.
MY hair. MY hair.
Oh, why do you care?
Imagine living in a world where we ask before assuming about personal politics and body hair grooming.
MY hair. MY hair.
We could be there – you and I, he and she, zie and we – if we spent less time obsessing about hair – mine, yours, or anyone’s.

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This work, “Since This Is Apparently Something People Are Very Concerned About.” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Ode To My Menstrual Cycle

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So, Dominique Christina’s amazing spoken word piece, “The Period Poem” has been (rightfully) storming through cyberspace and has inspired some of my friends to share their own poems and stories related to their experiences with menstruation. I wrote this piece last year for an event promoting healthy menstrual awareness that I was asked to perform at. I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to share with a lot of people because I felt like the poem was pretty rough and wasn’t very fancy…but after hearing my Blood Brethren share, I realized that I too wanted to tell my story. It is not elegant (menstruation rarely is, amirite?!) and it is not going to encourage anyone to run with the wolves, but hey, it’s my little poem, and she’s not so bad once you get to know her.

We became acquainted when I was eleven years old.
For a few years, I had vaguely known that you would come around
After my body laid an egg…shot out an egg…something with an egg…
And then it would zip around inside me like the silver sphere in a pinball machine;
Clanging against tubes and womb walls,
Setting off buzzers, flashing lights, and mechanical chirping
Until it fell out
And my uterus would weep tears of blood that sounded akin to a slot machine paying out quarters.
It would have been helpful if someone had told me that blood isn’t always red
Because as I sat on the toilet in my best friend’s bathroom after school,
I just so happened to catch a glimpse of my underwear
And I was horrified to see a smear of brown
Against the formerly pristine white.
Naturally, I thought what any eleven year old would:
FECAL INCONTINENCE (!!!)
I was shitting myself without even knowing it.

Once a month, for five months,
I would discover that my avoidance of fibrous foods
And my militant exercise routine of clenching my anus one hundred times a day
Would fail miserably
As streaks of brown appeared in my panties.
Remembering how my mother had reacted when I was five years old
And she had found blood in my pants after I had been climbing trees all day;
How she accused me of committing acts that I didn’t even understand the meaning of,
I decided the best course of action
Was to keep my humiliation private.
I wadded up my underwear and threw it in my closet:
Day after day, for five days,
Month after month, for five months.

One day, after a fight with my father, my mother decided to clean my room.
(“rage cleaning” my sister and I called it)
Somewhere in between reading my diary and throwing out my “My Little Pony” collection,
She discovered 25 pairs of stained underwear in the far corner of my closet.
When I came home from school that day,
She was so furious that I nearly pooped myself, even though it wasn’t “that time of the month”.
“How long have you been getting your period? Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” she yelled.
“I…I thought I was pooping myself,” I whispered tearfully.
“That’s blood, you moron!” she exclaimed.
“But…but it’s brown!” I responded with the most agonizing shame.
“Blood can be brown! It doesn’t have to be red! It’s not like cutting your arm!”
She sighed.
“I guess we’re going to have to go to the drugstore tonight and get you some crap.”
I went to walk away and I think she realized that she should say something supportive,
So she gave my shoulder a punch and said, “Way to go. Proud of you.”

We didn’t start off on the best footing, Menstrual Cycle.
You seemed to be cranking out eggs faster than a factory-farm hen,
Because during Grade Six, I would get my period every other week.
It wasn’t long until those small streaks of brown
Turned into giant puddles of red that seemed to go everywhere but on my pad;
Seeping through all my clothes and a few times, leaving blood stains on chairs.
I don’t remember the first time that I got cramps,
But what followed were years and years of a special kind of hell:
Pain that literally caused me to grit my teeth and scream, along with vomiting, thigh pain, and diarrhea.
Every time I got my period, I missed two days of school because I would be crawling around on my bed
In the kind of misery that made me fantasizing about performing my own hysterectomy with a grapefruit spoon.

It took five years for me to convince my doctor that my menstrual pain was legitimate.
After that, came a decade of various birth control pills, antibiotics, narcotics…
Ultrasounds, x-rays, dye tests, colonoscopies, cervical scrapings…
Which led to two laser surgeries for endometriosis…
Which finally led to two rounds of monthly injections of hormones
To keep you quiet, to keep you nice and sleepy, to trick you into thinking that I was a sixty year old womyn.
I’m not going to lie, Menstrual Cycle: for a long time, I thought you were a jerk.

But, we have aged well together, you and I.
We have an understanding with each other,
And we are always working to communicate our needs;
To listen to what each other is saying.
Actually…no. That’s not true at all.
I’ve simply learned not to argue with you,
And to try to honour you as the warrior queen you are.
I offer your uterine death grips infusions of nettle, red clover, and red raspberry.
I soothe your acne with willow bark.
I feed your chocolate cravings.
I even spend exorbitant amounts of money on batteries for vibrators,
Just so you can get through those two weeks of perpetual sexual arousal each month
Before I need to lavish you with cloth pads and ginger compresses.
When you demand attention through tantrums, I make time for you –
I crawl into bed or into the tub or into the whiskey bottle.

I’ve learned to appreciate you, Menstrual Cycle.
Living with you is exciting!
It’s a white-knuckled roller coaster ride
Throughout the calendar:

I feel great! La di da!”

OMG! I’m so horny! I have to get laid right now! Somebody fuck me!”

“I’m so sad…”

“I hate you! I hate everyone! I hate everything!”

“I better not get my period right now or else I’m going to be so pissed!”

“Umm…Period…where are you? You can come any time now. I promise I will never, ever get mad at you again. C’mon, please. Pretty please? I won’t even complain about cramps this month.”

“Oh. Great. I bled all over my sheets.”

“FUCK! I HATE CRAMPS!”

“Okay, okay, we got this. Three more days. Okay, five more days. We’re done! Oh, no, we’re not. Sigh. Three more days.”

“Hurray! I feel great! La di da!”

Now, I teach other people about their menstrual cycles,
And I try to teach them the things that I wish someone would have told me:
That our wombs answer the call of the moon and tides;
That our bodies contain the power to create and destroy;
That our bloody flow tells the stories of both our ancestors and our descendants.
I remind them that this dance will not last forever,
And one day they will blink and realize that they are crones
Finding their connection to the Universe in different ways.
I like to tell them that blood – whether it is brown or red – is not to be feared.
It is a sacred mystery that marks the passage of time.
We can choose to squat over the earth and give our bleeding back to it.
We can drag fingers and paintbrushes through menses and lochia;
Anointing runes, wands, canvas, and paper.
Menstrual blood; birthing blood;
Are bloods that are shed without typically causing death.
Some people say not to trust anything that bleeds for seven days and doesn’t die…
I say, “Fall on your knees and worship this miracle!”

Menstrual Cycle, I thank you for your lessons:
For the bitter, and for the sweet
You’ve shown me who I am and who I can be…
How can I be anything but grateful?

 

uterus comic

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This work, “Ode To My Menstrual Cycle” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Some Spiritual Teachings Occur While Purchasing Ketchup

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“Daughter,” he says, “I want to ask you about your hair.”
His statement implies an exchange of words and ideas,
But instead, he runs his fingertips along my dreadlocks,
Skimming scarred and wrinkled hands through twists and knots,
Searching for treasure within Medusa’s nest of vipers
Handling each snake as an evidence of salvation like a Pentecostal preacher.
“Have you ever been to Jamaica?” he asks, his accent ripe like mango, full like blooming hibiscus.
“I have not,” I reply.
“But you are one of us?” he prompts.
“You mean Rastafari?”
He waves his hand, dismissing me, clucking his tongue, all while my white girl hair is wrapped around his wrist.
“Rastafari” he says, “You can call it that if you like. Some do. Some don’t. Do you need a label? Don’t you know better than to believe what is packaged and sold to you?”
I have no idea how to respond.
He laughs. “I am not used to wimmin who keep their thoughts to themselves.”
I smile. “I’m not used to being a womyn who keeps her thoughts to herself.”
He chuckles, leans towards me, and whispers, “Be proud.”
I gaze into his kind eyes, and nod.

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This work, “Some Spiritual Teachings Occur While Purchasing Ketchup” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

#tenwordpoems

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The only truth I can rely on is your lies.

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Do the feathers from angel wings make extra fluffy pillows?

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Plenty of Fish? Online dating is a load of carp.

Ten-09

Even the moon has craters if you look close enough.

Number-Ten_web

Does my poetry matter even though nobody ever reads it?

hand-10-ten

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These works by Beth Murch are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Featuring in the Cherry Festival at Cherry Park

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Do you like cherries? I mean, do you really, really like cherries? Do you like cherries enough to go to an entire festival devoted to the celebration of cherries? Good! Then I will assume that you will be coming to watch myself and some other gifted poets from the Kitchener-Waterloo Poetry Slam spit some tart verses (and possibly some pits?!) at the Cherry Festival at Cherry Park in Kitchener!

Cherry Festival Poster

Check out the Cherry Festival website at: http://cherrypark.blogspot.ca/