Tag Archives: Old Love

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

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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

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Firefly

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glowing-trees

I was inspired to write this poem after reading a journal article discussing bioluminescent trees – trees that light up like fireflies and can be used in place of streetlights. It was also 4AM (the most dreaded of my sleepless hours), and  I was feeling sad. One of my teammates had prompted me to write a poem using the line, “I wish my heart made better choices” after I whispered it in between wiping tears and snot bubbles from my nose with single-ply tissue (seriously, Universe?!). That line found its way into this pout-y little piece. I tried to perform this at a slam recently, and I flubbed part of the poem…which is more frustrating than embarrassing (I mean, you spend so much time rehearsing -you want to get it right!). I had to hide in the bathroom while the scores were read because I needed to splash some cold water on my face to soothe my angry artist’s soul and I couldn’t bear to hear a cruddy score at that moment. The nice thing about blogs? They have “edit” buttons.

“I’ve been accused of falling in love too soon” you said, cigarette smoke wafting
“That works out great,” I replied. “I’ve been accused of not falling in love at all.”
I didn’t realize that you were quoting a line from one of your poems
Because I was so caught up in sharing truths like the beers we had been drinking
What you didn’t tell me that night was that you fall in love with everyone
That you are a magpie looking for the next shiny thing to collect
And I was just another piece of tinfoil decorating your nest
Now, I could live with being one more firefly in your summer night sky
If it meant that my bioluminescence led to the growth of trees that acted like streetlights
That would guide you home to me from time to time
Instead, you caught me in a Mason jar that still smelled like Jack Daniels
Hoping to save me for a rainy day where your darkness needed light
You tucked me into the bottom of your book bag
Forgetting that most animals do not survive captivity

I wish my heart made better choices
That I wouldn’t form soul contracts with people who I can only rely upon to walk away when shit gets real
I wish I could stop reaching out my hands to pull you closer to me when you find it so easy to push me away
They say that good fences make good neighbours, but I’ve never been able to tell if you were shutting me out or if I was locking myself into you
Boundaries. What are boundaries when two people collide like hot air meets with cold air, forming thunderstorms that crack terrifying beauty across a black canvas called friendship?
I pour my love into you like you pour your sour mash whisky into preserve jars
But, like alcohol, you always evaporate like you were never there in the first place
You give your affection away like business cards at a trade show
Like friendship is swag and I should just be happy that you gave me your sticker
You’re like a bank that begs me to take their credit card and then hits me with high interest rates
Trying to convince me I’m special because I’m a “platinum member”

I told you that I don’t fall in love easily because I have a fear of abandonment
You said it was safe to love you because you would never truly leave
That you would always come back to me in the end like the ocean tides are pulled like string by the moon
But in that moment when I needed you more than oxygen, more than G-d, more than a child needs their mother’s milk
You turned on your heel, in a fluid, graceful movement like you were exiting a stage
And literally walked away without looking into my eyes
I have survived more violence than a three minute and ten second poem could ever contain
But nothing has ever ravaged me so much as the sound of a simple door closing

If you are looking for me, for my friendship, for my love, for my firefly’s light
You’ll find them dead in a jar
At the bottom of your book bag
Not gone – just forgotten.

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

I Woke Up In Your House

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winter cottage sunrise

I woke up in your house
Under the quilt that your great-grandmother had made
As a blushing bride to decorate her marriage bed

My bare feet padded on the cold, gnarled planks of pine
Leading me towards your empty, still-dark kitchen
Containing bottles of soap with unfamiliar brand names
That left my hands smelling like possibilities

I wrapped my shawl around myself tightly
And dug out some coffee beans in the back of your pantry
While I waited for the coffee to stop dripping
I kneaded the dough that I left to rise on your wood stove overnight
And began to shape it for our day’s bread

You came in with the dawn
Knocked snow off your boots
Your beard filled with icicles
And your arms laden with wood
You stoked the little glowing coals in the stove
And tossed some hardwood on the fire

I poured you a large mug of coffee
As I handed it to you
You made a joke about witch tits and freezing temperatures
And slipped your hands through my shawl
Down the neckline of my nightgown
Playfully grabbed my breasts
Causing me to slop coffee

Frozen fingers on rounded flesh
Lead to breakfast being served late
As the meal was not the only thing laid on the table that morning

For a moment, it was all right in front of me
The scent of your wet wool coat
The sensation of warm dough on my fingers
The taste of coffee upon my lips
The sound of our breathing

The rising sun melted the frost
On your window sill

Sometimes, when I get a little cold
I wonder what would have happened
If I had chosen to stay longer

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This work, “I Woke Up In Your House” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Untitled

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You say your heart is like bark
And even thought I know it isn’t what you mean
I envision layers of hard, scarred tissue being scraped away to reveal your tender core
Warm
Soft
Moist
So sensitive that to simply touch it would cause bleeding

Sometimes, I wonder how to hold you without puncturing the surface of your being
My fingers are just too fat
My hands are too clumsy
It seems like even my best intentions could lead to damage

I worry that I am like a toddler chasing a monarch
Drawn by brilliant designs on gossamer wings
I finally trap you between my sweaty palms
Only to discover that I created carnage out of your splendor

I don’t want to kill you
But I might

You call me at 4AM
Voice clouded by cocaine and cigarettes
Writing love poems to a man
That left the sweet-smelling, resin-sticky flexible parts of you
To atrophy under layer after layer of papers:
Notebook papers
Forged papers
Rolling papers
Until a shell built up over you like a callous –
Some kind of tough skin to protect your essence

 I am not in the business of bark
I want sap
I want latex
I want to count the rings that spin out from your centre

I am a healer
I believe in wound debridement

I hear the tears in your throat that your eyes are too tired to cry
And I want to strip it away
I hear the shaking in your hands
And I want to strip it away
I hear the beer sloshing in your belly
And I want to strip it away

If I scratch at the bark with my fingernails
Will I cut you so deeply that new growth is no longer possible
Or will you obey the laws of Dendrology and come back stronger?

Humans are remarkably good at destroying that they wish to protect

But, Sweetheart –
You are not a tree
Your heart is not at all like bark
The man you write poems to only blows through your memory like a winter wind through paupers’ coats into bones
He is a ghost to haunt you on nights where you can’t sleep
And I am a warm, patchwork quilt smelling of cedar chests and mothballs
Let me wrap myself around you

I will get fingerprints on your heart
Part of it will probably get crushed by accident
I might wear off the veneer when I try to rub some life back into it
But even if your heart ends up cracked
With carpenter ants marching through your ventricles and aortas…

…Would it not be best to have it all done by a friend who is handing you her own heart for you to do the same?

cedar-bark

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

Sometimes, poems are messages in bottles…

Aggregation of Things

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Coffee Rings

At the back table of the all-night diner
She drinks her coffee from a paper cup
Watching it form a Venn diagram on the Formica table top
As she searches for logical relations

She left him when he laid his hands on her
She folded up her unworn wedding dress into a garbage bag
And walked away without turning for a last look at the home they made together
He told her that she would never be loved again
And in the ten years since, he has been right
Now she sits in restaurants collecting the scent of sausage in her hair
As she traces her secrets out on paper place mats speckled with egg yolk
Catching the reflection of her pursed lips in a teaspoon

When did those lines get etched around her eyes?
When did she start feeling tired all the time?
When did she stop believing she would grow up to be a princess?

Somewhere in the dark of another night alone
She accepted a tough job that doesn’t pay enough
And the reality that there would be no more bonfires on the beach
With beer bottles blazing amber in the flames
And a set of strong arms to keep her from drifting away

She learned to eat carbs instead of wishing on dandelion fluff
She learned to solve crossword puzzles instead of looking for answers
Finding her truth in the static that crackles on the radio
As country and western plays over clattering dishes

Through the twang of pedal steel and pull of bluegrass
She sees the long, chugging train brush against the steel grey sky
Whistling across the miles of flat farmers’ fields frozen hard
And leaving her behind again
The emptiness in her heart swells until it strains the uneven stitches she used to sew it back together

Gossamer spider webs collect on flickering light bulbs
As another coffee refill slops into her soggy cup
The brown liquid seeps out the bottom as she raises it to her lips
Staining her over-washed linen skirt

Knowing that she will never be happy or free
She drifts away…

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

Upon Wrapping My Wet Dreads In An Old Lover’s Nightown

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I suppose I should be grateful
For what you didn’t give me:

Debt
STIs
Physical scars

But tonight
After I luxuriated in a long, hot bath
Infusing my dreadlocks with coconut oil and sandalwood
I needed something long and cotton with which to wrap up my hair
To absorb the dripping water and slick grease

I found the perfect item
In the bottom of my dresser
That ugly, old nightgown that you gave me
Casting off something you had used up
And no longer needed
(A preview of what was to come?)

It was worn
Nearly see-through
(Much like the lies you told me)
It was flimsy
(Much like every promise you ever made me)
It was stained
(Much like my opinion of you)

For the first time in years
I was grateful for something you had given me

Perhaps
Our relationship
Wasn’t a total loss
After all

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This work, “Upon Wrapping My Wet Dreads In An Old Lover’s Nightgown” by Beth Murch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.