Tag Archives: Grief

They Don’t Make A Lemon Cleaner For That


Short word
Or long sentiment?
Hard to tell when
Ink from your emotional pen
Bleeds through suicide notes onto tables,
Smearing the Formica, permanently staining shirt sleeves.
After all, when your body is finally gone,
Those mistakes will still linger for others to scratch,
Digging their fingernails into postmortem splatter to further define your scars.
We are never truly gone if our errors survive,
So, leave no notes behind to justify actions.
Fade into oblivion like your agonal breaths
Expelled through lungs seized by death.
It isn’t a complicated notion,
Just say the word.
Lose the sentiment.
Simply vanish.


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This work, “They Don’t Make A Lemon Cleaner For That” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam: Featuring Beth Murch!


Brant Rant

If you think of broken-hearted people swilling whisky and smoking cigarettes in an embittered fashion, apparently, you are not alone!  Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with me, the Perpetual Spinster, at The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam. Or, you know, don’t…I’m used to being alone. WAH!!!

The Deets:

Who: Beth Murch (me!)
What: The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam
Where: Rockling’s Tap & Grill, Brantford, Ontario
When: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Why: Because misery loves company?
How: By crying into our beers and sharing poetry

Event’s Facebook Page: The Brant Rant’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Slam feat. Beth Murch

Letters To A Dead Man


I spend my nights writing letters to a dead man.
Half of me lives in fear that he will answer;
Half of me lives in fear that he won’t.

 My heart floats in a dusty jar of formaldehyde,
Forgotten in the dark corner of a mad scientist’s lab.
I donated it to medical research because I wasn’t really using it.
Besides, it made my rib cage look cluttered,
And I can finally hear myself think now that the dreadful banging has stopped.

 I ask my friend,
“How is it that you, who had a heart so full of love, a heart that held up the entire world, could not survive
When I, someone incapable of love, completely devoid of strength, stumble forward year after year,
Like a zombie tripping over calendar pages?”

 The cold winter sky doesn’t respond.
The hard, frozen ground doesn’t crack open to reveal a revelation.
When I look in the bathroom mirror after taking a shower,
There’s no message written in the steam.

 If this poem were a joke
Instead of a confession,
The punch line would be that talking to a dead man is actually not the most one-sided conversation that I have ever had.

Is this your picture? If so, let me know and I will credit you!

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This work, “Letters To A Dead Man” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

NaPoWriMo Day 22


22/30 Prompt: Write About Packing Up Your Place

You think it would be easy
To leave a place that was never yours to begin with,
But you are no Bedouin –
You like to settle.
You would prefer to force your roots up through concrete sidewalks,
Punch your branches through aluminum siding to reach sunlight,
Grow on an angle to dodge buzzing power lines,
Rather than simply move…
Rather than disappoint someone.


Even though you hate that the kitchen has no counter,
You think the painting of the giraffe is ugly,
And you resent picking up his pants from the front hall everyday,
You still cry tears of regret as you shove garments into garbage bags.
Do you do the dirty dishes in the sink before you go?
Do you make him one last glass of chocolate milk to leave in the fridge for old time’s sake?
What can you do to make this more “okay”?


You want to touch things,
Leave fingerprints all over the apartment like a crime scene.
You want to write apologies on the walls with your blood,
To carve out the bullets of his words from your body
And place them on the table he bought from Ikea
That he told you that you loved so very much.
You know that he would only tell you that these bits of metal ugliness
Still coated with strings of your fascia
Clashed with his décor.
The truth is that every bit of who you are
Has never co-ordinated with the couch,
Your soul has never matched with the china,
Your heart never snapped into place when it came to his life’s puzzle.


You leave the picture of you together on the mantle,
The one where he had your face pressed into his chest
So that he took up the entire frame except for your back.
Once, that photograph made you feel like he was holding you,
Keeping you safe, warming you with his very heart.
Now, you realize he was trying to smother you,
Killing you with what came from his core,
Absorbing you into his body until you were no longer separate.


You vomit when you remove the mezuzah
Knowing that technically, he’s more Jewish than you’ll ever be,
But you are the only one who kisses it,
And he will just throw out that holy scroll with G-d’s name written on it
Just like he threw away his grandfather’s prayerbook,
Just like he threw away the gifts from your bridal shower.
You are the one leaving,
And yet somehow, you are still the one being left behind.


You take one last look at “your home”
Because you know there will be no going back
For forgotten items,
For missed opportunities,
For stray kisses that might have been pushed under the couch during vacuuming.
Although you have your boxes of books and your university degree wrapped in the quilt
Someone bought you as a wedding present,
You know that you are leaving things behind.
There will always be fibres of your being floating with dust motes in the air.
There will always be pieces of your heart scratched into the laminate flooring.
There will always be the whispers you spoke into that hole in the closet where the drywall crumbled.


Will the next people who live in your place
Catch the lingering fragrance of your pain
In their clothes
When the windows have been shut too long?




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

NaPoWriMo Day 18


18/30 Prompt: Write About Being Somewhere Sacred

You never drew a breath.
Your lips,
Perfectly pouted for a lifetime of kisses
Remained sealed.
I anointed you with the only precious oils I had available –
Sweet almond, lavender, and lemon.
I did not have silk, velvet, or brocade,
But I used the Winnie-the-Pooh receiving blanket
Someone gave your mother
At her shower a month ago
To wrap you against the kind of cold
That was inevitable.
When I placed you in her hands,
She caressed you with the respectful, humbled passion
Of a worshiper adoring the feet of a saint’s statue.
You were as quiet as an icon.
We stood with hushed devotion,
As if waiting for you to weep tears of milk
Like the ones that seeped through your mother’s hospital gown.

Someone should pray,” she whispered.
Since there was only the three of us in the room,
And you had chosen to keep your secrets,
I was the one who put my hand on your head
And prayed,

Heavenly Father, we entrust this child back into Your loving care…”


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

Meditations On Grief


I’m not really sure that this “counts” as a poem (insomuch as one can determine what poetry is or not…and ask me if I truly care!), but it was something that I didn’t write so much as carve out of my soul during a tough time in the past three weeks. I actually typed it out on a cell phone, I was that earnest. In my experience, things written in that heads pace are meant to be preserved and shared, so here you go (or here I go…this is for me too, after all):

There are no boundaries with grief. Gone are the days where we could retreat into the forest to sing mourning songs, paint our faces with cold mud to soothe white-hot agony, and to swallow smooth river rocks to quell our hunger and to keep us on the ground when sadness would carry us away. Now, we are expected to move through our lives as if to acknowledge calamity would be to admit defeat, so we stagger onwards like cowboys in movies who take bullets to their legs and chests, only to beat the bad guys without limping or coughing up blood.

I wake to the phone ringing. It’s been ringing for two days now. It screams at me, conjuring images of alarms and bells, of static-crackling intercoms, and of metal gurneys barging into concrete walls. I hope whoever keeps telephoning forgives me for not picking up: these painful recollections are not a call I want to accept.

I decide that just for today, Khalua for breakfast is self-care.

It’s snowing again. A cab driver tells me that this has been the coldest and longest winter in over thirty years. “A hard winter”, he proclaims this mess of gray skies, driving snow, and minus degrees. “A hard winter” – I try the statement in my own mouth, liking the taste of ice, salt, desolation, and darkness. For the first time in months, I am grateful for windchill, barreness, and slush. Right now, the orange of a carrot would offend me. The green tendrils of some eager plant would infuriate me. Some people give each other flowers when someone dies. Don’t give me lilies and orchids – give me a fistful of bare sticks only just held together by rotting twine.

“Life goes on,” my mother would say when I came to her with skinned knees and a road-rashed heart. It always felt like a cruel invalidation to me, a way to de-legitimize my emotions. Now, I wonder if she was only teaching me a lesson about existence the same way a lioness chases her cub from the tribe or a shark decides to eat her young: Life is no respector of feelings. After all, I may have a hole in my heart, but my hydro bill is still due, there is still conflict between Russia and the Ukraine, and Rape Culture still exists. I am overwhelmed by daily life. I spend ten minutes holding a brick of tofu in my hands, unclear as to why I picked it up in the first place. Standing in line at the bank, unbidden tears chase each other down my cheeks. The exasperated teller sighs, “There’s no reason to cry, Ma’am.”

Perhaps there is no reason to cry, but I still do.

“What do you need?” Kind souls ask me, as if I could somehow articulate myself in a way that does not offend or alienate. What do I need? I need the brutal reality of fist striking bone, a jolt of physical pain that wakes me up. I need to slice off layers of my skin with a chainsaw, to peel away this consuming grief. I need strong hands to hold me down when the howling winds that tear past my lips threaten to toss me about like a kite in a hurricane. Can you help with those things? When her voice bubbles in my ears like a tea kettle on a stove, can you silence it? When I am washing my clothes and I find blood stains on my socks, can you erase them? When I am overcome with guilt because I couldn’t stop it, can you bear that weight for me? When I sift through white powder looking for something that never was, can you convince me I never wanted it in the first place?

I light fires just to watch things burn. I am the mistress of all I destroy – I am in control of every burn hole, every ash, every smear of soot. This is how G-d feels as He shakes sparks all around us, watching us dance and die. Every dry forest needs a careless camper. Every limping gazelle needs a hungry hyena. Every birth requires a death.

And Life will go on.

There are no boundaries with grief. My sorrow does not have state lines. If you won’t let me retreat to weep with the loons, carve my pain into bark, and wipe my tears with lichen, then please, let me be a storm cloud. Let me be dark and angry. Let me rumble. Let me flash with rage and send down torrents of rain. Let me hang heavy. Let me be ominous. Let me be uncontrollable. Maybe in time, the grief will blow away. Maybe in time, I will blow away, little more than the reason your picnic needed to be rescheduled.

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

Love Is A Lexicon


There are only 26 letters in the alphabet
I would need so many more characters to create an infinite possibility of words
That could be skillfully crafted into sentences
To form a language that would adequately express
How much I miss you

Is not a long enough word
To describe the emptiness in my heart or the aching in my bones
That comes when the echo of your name being spoken
Reverberates back to me, unanswered

alphabet jumble

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This work, “Love Is A Lexicon” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.