5/30 Prompt: Write a Poem That Reacts to Both Photography and to Words in a Language Not Your Own
Poem: 4 o’clock in the Morning
At 4 o’clock in the morning, the river stones are cool and slick.
I hear the water lapping at them, waves tongue-kissing the shoreline with heavy breathing.
The crocodiles swallow the rocks, sliding them down their pink throats so that they can dive deeper,
And the crows gather them in their beaks to leave as presents for worthy recipients.
Somewhere, Virginia Woolf is collecting stones to fill her pockets, each rock clacking against the other, and I am listening to her hum her final tune.
At 4 o’clock in the morning, you are silent as a river stone,
your breathing like the sound of water rushing downstream.
I want to caress your edges,
finger the chips and cracks along your surface.
I want to place you on my altar with my other treasured and sacred possessions: feathers, shells, and plugs of tobacco,
but you lay in bed next to me, your back to my face.
I wonder if I bring you stones like a crow, lowering my head in deference, spreading my wings into a graceful bow,
if you would eat them like a crocodile to keep a part of me inside of you,
and if they would weigh you down like Virginia’s coat.
Photograph by Michael Pike, copyright 2007.
This work, “Gastrolith” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
2/30 Prompt – Write a Poem that Plays with Voice
you were made for sphagnum and sap/bits of bark and bogs of peat/silver fish in brown lake shimmering/berry stains around the mouth/while naked belly sits on generous lap/you are a feral child barefoot on ancient escarpment/leaves and twigs in matted hair/loon call echoing your heartbeat drum/
I live in a world of pavement. The hot asphalt melts the rubber soles of my shoes, and I rush through constant construction to get from one job to the next. My temporomandibular joint aches from clenching my teeth against the sound of concrete being drilled and my crotch sweats from being confined in pantyhose eighteen hours a day. The streetlights are my stars.
come away love/ splash in rushing rivers/rut in rich humus/antler velvet sloughed off on tree branches/birch paper peeling in gentle breezes/moose grunt and firefly glow/your fire crackles and snaps/taste the smoke/
I am a professional. I am a productive, contributing member of society. I eat my meals with a fork and knife. I take medicines for my acid reflux. I drink water from a bottle. I stay clean. My television and my cell phone tell me the seasons, the weather, and the temperature. I make car and rental payments. I grow tulips in tight rows each spring, making sure the colours complement each other.
do you ever find your heart filled with a longing that can never be satisfied?
Is this your image? Let me know so that I may credit you.
This work, “Untitled” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
“…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…
This work, “Beautiful Yet Dangerous” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
On a Christmas day without snow,
the white, generously- bellied moon shone in an India-ink sky,
pouring incandescent light through your truck’s windows,
dancing off your mirrors until your chocolate eyes held diamonds.
The seat captured the cold night air and pressed through your clothes,
drying the sweat that glided down the winding roads of your body.
Your hands, still covered in the sweet resin of trees,
left the wheel only to turn up the volume on the radio
as you hummed along to the corn-kissed whine of Southern pedal steel.
The road stretched wide and endless before you,
and in that moment of possibility,
you thought of me.
Image taken from Pinterest
This work, “On a Christmas Day Without Snow” by Beth Murch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Sometimes, I talk to plants.
Rough hands and sharp tongues
Cannot shear through leaves and stems
And so I know that my secrets are safe
With dandelions and plantain
People cast confidences on the wind like corn silk
And like to rip trust out at the roots
I understand the magick of herbs
Petals make potions
Resins make remedies
I can speak the languages of honey, vinegar, oil, and hot water
Passionflower smiles at my heart’s release
Chamomile dries my tears
Calendula caresses me like a kindly mother
People are so much harder to comprehend
Their words clang in my ears like lids on boiling pots
And their prickles hurt me far more than nettles
I wish I could trust humans like I trust fungus
I like that lavender always kisses me back
And ginger gingerly warms my hands on cold winter days
Careful not to break my skin
Or my heart
Sometimes, I talk to plants.
I like that they listen
I like that they talk back to me
Someday, the plants will hold me like I hold them now
And we will belong to each other
Royalty-Free Stock Image
This work, “I Talk To Plants” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
My face is wind burned.
My throat is scratchy from cold air and winter germs.
My eyes are bloodshot.
My muscles are screaming from a wind chill of -31.
I’m no longer sure if I am writing poetry,
Or simply delivering an inventory of my symptoms.
Frigid (literally and figuratively)? Check.
Raw (literally and figuratively)? Check.
Laying awake in the middle of the night smelling the giant shit the cat just took in the freshly cleaned litter box three rooms away? Check.
Desperately relying upon streaming syndicated television programs on my laptop to comfort me through my middle age? Check.
Someday, I will be dead.
My shawls will be hanging in a thrift shop,
My books will be dumped into a garbage bin,
And all that will remain of me will be my Social Insurance Number…
…and this poem, of course.
Behold, the magnificence!
Step aside, Rumi.
Look! It’s me! Well, it’s me if I were a royalty-free cartoon turkey who was smoking during a snowstorm in the mountains.
This work, “Step Aside, Rumi” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
I call our love “snow”.
Winter is all we have left,
Now that you are ice.
This work, “Writing Haiku Instead Of Sleeping On A Snowy Evening” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.