Tag Archives: Beth Murch

Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival 2018

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Hello, Precious Blueberries! So, here’s a thing that you might not know about me: all next week, I’ll be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, performing at the Saskatoon Poetic Arts Festival, alongside several very talented poets! Our heroine is feeling a little intimidated by her colleagues, but she is looking forward to learning so much from them. We’ll be up to all kinds of adventures: workshops, performances, group writing experiences…you name it! We’ll experience a performance and workshop by Sabrina Benaim, of “Explaining My Depression to my Mother” and Depression & Other Magic Tricks fame.

This is a tremendous opportunity for me, and it is one that I would not have had the privilege to experience were it not for the support and generousity of my incredible friends, lovers, dears, queers, and beloved anonymous fans. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who contributed to my YouCaring campaign (whose funding goal was met so quickly I didn’t even have time to make a blog post promoting it!). Plane tickets and other travel expenses are not cheap, and your donations have left this poetess humbled and grateful.

I will take lots of pictures, and I will be sure to keep you all updated on my adventures in Saskatoon!

Trees, Bees, & Babies!

Peace and Blessings,

Beth

spaf photo Photo Credit: Sherri-Lyn Finley of Little Bird Beginnings Doula Services.

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For Jane

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This poem is dedicated to Jane, who asked me write about being incarcerated.

Jane,

I didn’t want to write this poem.
Even as I stand here right now, performing this piece, exactly like you asked me to,
I feel uncomfortable.
I don’t like to tell other people’s stories.
I don’t want to appropriate someone else’s struggle and pretend that it is my own,
And I don’t want to receive accolades for appearing enlightened when I’m just as in the dark as everyone else.
When you begged me to write a poem about you being incarcerated, I immediately told you to write your own poem because your words would mean so much more than my own,
But you refused.
You said, “No one will listen to me and besides, I’ll be dead in a year, anyway.”

Jane,

How do I tell them the story of your life? How do I get them to remember you like I will always remember you?
They will never see the deep lines around your eyes and mouth. They will never smell the cigarettes you couldn’t stop chain-smoking, or see the yellow nicotine stains on your fingertips. They will never hear your throaty laugh, see your long, shiny black hair, or see the incredible beadwork that you meticulously created and showed me with such shy pride.
You are more than a statistic – you are an actual person, with hopes and dreams, and a self-deprecating sense of humour. You are more than your illness, more than your addiction, more than your crimes.
You were abused as a child. You are burdened by mental illness and poverty. You are homeless. You have children that were apprehended by Family and Children’s Services. You are racialized. You are alone.
Crack, heroin, alcohol – your “drugs of choice”…these are your coping mechanisms. Sex work is how you get them. You’re not Julia Roberts being lavished with attention by Richard Gere. How many snowy streets have you strolled hoping for strange men to pick you up in their cars, just so that they could use your body and you could get some crumpled bills?
You told me that your best friend, who was also a sex worker, was murdered and her body parts were scattered across the city in dumpsters. You believe that it is only a matter of time before you are next.

Jane,

Sometimes, when the sky stretches wide and blue above me,
I think about prison and what it must have been like for you there.
You would miss the sky, you told me. You missed weather and starlight and the sunshine on your shoulders.
You said that you had spent more time in prison than out, and that prison was the only life that you understood.
You liked the routines and the accessibility of food, but you hated the lack of privacy.
You called prison “timeless time” – a place where every minute lasted an eternity.

Jane,

How do I describe what it was like for you to be incarcerated?
Do I tell them about that time you told me that you must be an animal because you keep getting locked up like one?
Do I tell them that you still had access to all your drugs of choice?
Do I tell them how you had a greater sense of community with your fellow inmates than you do on the outside?
Do I tell them that if you don’t end up dead first, you’ll be back inside those concrete walls?
Do I tell them that this system isn’t working – that it’s failing you and so many others?

Jane,

I didn’t want to write this poem for you. I didn’t want to put words in your mouth. But most of all, I didn’t want to face the reality that you are either back in prison or that you are dead, and I’ll never know whatever became of you, one more person stuck in an unjust justice system.
I wonder if in your dreams you fly free with the wind in your face.
I want to picture you like that
Twirling and laughing with your hands stretched wide, calling your children to you
Years of sorrow and hardship melting in the drizzle of spring rain.

Jane,

I wrote this poem for you at last.
Fly free.

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Is this your image? If so, let me know so that I may credit you.

 

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

There’s A Country & Western Song In Here Somewhere

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They say that when someone’s been stabbed
it’s safest to leave the knife blade in the wound.
The weapon acts as a plug to keep blood in the body,
and additional organ damage can be caused by pulling out the sharp edge.

In the movies, the hero pours whisky on his own pierced flesh,
grimacing as the alcohol stings his slash marks –
makeshift antibiotics for his barely-there medical care.
Hypovolemic shock never sets in before the bad guys are brought to justice.

I’ve been staggering around with a knife stuck inside my body.
Even though my muscles have stopped trying to force the foreign object out,
and my skin has grown over the place where the blade entered me,
I can never forget the feeling of being punctured.

There’s a tourniquet around my heart, Baby,
But I’m still bleeding out over you.
I pour bourbon down my throat but it doesn’t heal the nerve damage.
I think this time the bad guys just might win.

bloody-yellow-melon-killed-by-knife-wound-with-blood-metaphor-stock-photo Stock Photo.

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This work, “There’s A Country & Western Song in Here Somewhere” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Morning Song

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The juicy sound of the cat barfing
raises the hairs on my neck before I even open my eyelids.
I check the sheets for menstrual blood stains as I make the bed
and then my piss splashes in the toilet bowl like a golden tsunami.
The sting of peppermint toothpaste attacks my senses
while I brush and spit the remains of a restless night into the sink.

There is nothing delicate about morning.

The scent of freshly ground coffee beans
competes with the fragrance of the freshly used litterbox,
and the milk has gone as sour as my love life.
Yesterday’s dishes are piled in the sink.
Yesterday’s ashtray is overflowing.
Yesterday’s used condom sits in the wastepaper basket,
and I’ve been wearing the same nightgown since Tuesday.

There is nothing more revealing than the bright light of morning.

In the steaming shower, soap bubbles trail between my legs,
while I lean my forehead against the cool tiles.
My muscles are like fists,
unclenching one by one,
And I think for a moment, of
feline vomit
period stains
peppermint
sour milk
golden bars of sunlight streaming through the cracks in the curtains…
…and I think of morning.

There’s nothing quite like the dawn of a new day.

morning
image by King of Wallpapers.

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

Kitchen Wisdom

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You never washed the dishes properly.
You would put plates in the cupboard that were smeared with food.
You would place forks in the drawer crusted with old condiments.
I would pour my coffee into mugs that would taste like sour milk and dish soap
While trying to organize the pots and pans you shoved into the places they didn’t belong.

Now, my kitchen is clean.
Bowls are stacked according to size.
Spoons are nested together in an orderly fashion.
Everything has its place,
-even you –
It’s just that it’s no longer in my life.

dirty-dishes-white-clipping-path-39784908

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

Beautiful, Yet Dangerous

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“…and the flowers she planted, narcissus and hoa mai which cracked open each spring – the sky, she brought it low, until the air was hot and wet and broke into a rain…” – Cathy Linh Che, “My Mother Upon Hearing News of Her Mother’s Death” from Split, Alice James Books, 2014.

Don’t go there,
Where the hoa mai blaze like a fever
Near the riverbanks where her collection of sun-bleached bones glisten in the rain.
It’s beautiful, but dangerous
Where the narcissus bloom
Amidst rusted tin cans in overgrown cul-de-sacs.
She brings the sky low,
Makes it heavy and hot like breath,
Speaks to me ancient languages of pollen and nectar
Using cyclamen lips and a tongue like a tuber cracked open in spring.
Her belly rolls like distant thunder during her sudden summer sizzles
It’s beautiful, but dangerous there
Where the trout lilies riot in silence,
Near the creekbeds where her hair weaves into bulrushes,
Amidst blown tires scattered down endless highways.
And the flowers she planted…
And the flowers she planted…

Hoa-mai-roi

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