Tag Archives: Trees

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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Love Is A Slurry of Wood Pulp & Optical Brighteners

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My heart is like wet tissue paper:
Fragile, unsustainable,
Disintegrating upon contact.
The cheap dye gets everywhere,
Staining fingertips and sofa beds.
The worst part is that I still remember
What it was like to be a fierce, ancient tree
Before I became a shredded, soggy mess.

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This work, “Love Is A Slurry of Wood Pulp & Optical Brighteners” by Beth Murch, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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.

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…

The Secret Language Of Trees

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(For David Kraemer)

Circle ‘round, Children
As I tell you about the secret language of trees
An ancient tongue that existed long before you and I
A means of communication that will outlive us all

There are those who will tell you that trees are plants
And that plants have no souls
And that plants have no thoughts
So to believe that trees can talk is foolish
These people have forgotten the Old Ways
They stopped listening to the songs that Earth sings for them
Their ears are plugged up and their hearts are hardened
They have sat so long in buildings constructed of poisonous materials
Staring at computer screens
Gasping stale, recycled air
Growing hydroponically under florescent light
That they forgot the taste of spring rain
And the crunch of pine needles under their feet

Learn the secret language of the trees, Children
So that you can teach the Old Ways to those who will still listen
For 370 million years, the trees have been speaking
It is time for us to start hearing them again

Trees are as blood and bone as you and I
Their trunks and branches are skeletons
Their roots are hands
Every leaf is a strand of hair
Drops of sap, resin, and latex
Are the sanguine proofs of wounds
No different than a face burned by winter wind
Or a scraped knee

This is why we ask the trees permission to harvest their bounty
Carving into their sides to drain their fluids is piercing them to collect their essence
Shaving their bark is peeling off their skin
Plucking their fruit is pulling out their eye lashes
We leave them offerings to thank them for their generosity:
Placentae, feathers, shells, bowls of honey
For we know we cannot live without their sacrifices

Like us, trees need community
Beneath the ground they wrap around each other
Embracing eternally
Supporting growth through protective touch
Like a man who bears a woman’s weight
As she clings to his neck and then squats to birth his child
A tree planted alone can be brutalized by harsh weather
But trees planted together in a grove stand back- to – back and side – to – side
Taking the brunt of wind, ice, and driving rain for each other
Learning to sway and dance to the contributions of Sky
Nodding in harmony to the heartbeat of Earth

And, just like us, trees make love
Creaking and groaning
Stretching out to caress each other
Their dangling catkins rising over the female flowers
Who open wide, ready to receive pleasure
Stimulated by the soft stroking of the wind
Leaves shiver and the tree climaxes
Pollen bursts forth in a spray of delight
And the flowers take the pollen deep into themselves
Creating seeds that will ease from their bodies
Bringing forth new life

These are the ways of love, Children
We find someone who speaks to our hearts
We lean into them and rub up against them
We ache to be so close to each other that we become one another
Uniting our bodies and starting new life from sighs of arousal
The trees feel no shame in longing
We should also feel no shame

The linguistics of trees is not difficult to decode
We have merely allowed other sounds to overpower their conversations with us
The presence of trees has been so constant for humans that we take them for granted
Favouring the loud honking of cars, the grinding of gears, and chugging of engines
To the slow and breathy speech found in forests, fields, and arboretums

Trees want to share their secrets
They have been holding stories and knowledge inside them for so long
That they yearn for someone to lean against their sturdy trunks
Take off their shoes to feel the rich, loamy press of Earth against their feet
And to hear what they have to say

Trees know the magic for turning air and light into food
They hold the answers for changing carbon dioxide into oxygen
Breathe in, Children, breathe out
We are alive because of tree respiration
Trees have the wisdom to let go of the parts of themselves that no longer serve them
Allowing crisp, brown leaves and withered twigs to fall away
In order to enrich the soil for newer, better, stronger growth
From this decomposition, the trees thrive
And the tiny tendrils of their children creep forth
The promise of immortality born from death itself

Trees can call to rain, seducing reluctant clouds to release their drops
Cooling the air and filling the streams so Life may continue
They know how to calm the wind, soothing the angry blows from Sky
Urging gentleness from tempestuousness
The trees wish to guide us on our journeys
And so they give us directions through the lichen and moss
That adorns their creases, cracks, splits, and scarred faces
Trees are spiritual leaders
Acting as oracles and housing Spirit in their shadowy groves
Hiding faeries, sprites, seekers, and ascetics
Encouraging us to seek the Divine by keeping our feet on the ground and stretching towards the heavens
They have seen gods rise and fall and false prophets fade away
Long after our temples have crumbled into dust and ashes
The trees will hold the truth of Creation
Whispering prayers through trembling leaves

A tree may live several thousand years, Children
If you plant a tree today
You could reach across many generations
To lovingly place food into the mouths of descendents who are so far removed from you, they no longer remember your name
You could give the children of your children’s children’s children’s children
The mahogany frame on which they will make their bed
Or the cedar that they burn in their fires

In this manner, the trees hold onto the Old Ways
Even though we have become distracted
And forgotten our purpose
They hold the truth for us
Keeping it safe
Until we are ready to take it back
As long as we care for the trees
They will care for us

This is the secret language of trees, Children
Keep it in your heart as you kneel upon Earth to plant
Feel it in your stomach as you hunger for bread
Rub it across your brow as you sweat and ache
To bear seedlings across your back is to carry all of creation
If you bow under the weight
Remember the sacred, swaying dance of the trees
And know that you too will stand tall again

Tree Pic

Creative Commons License
This work, “The Secret Language of Trees” by Beth Murch,  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.