#3 december 2021
Brendon is a Canadian writer based in Berlin. His fiction, poetry and non-fiction engage with issues of queer love, spirituality, and ecology.
Earthache is a poem cycle inspired by an urge to process my personal and emotional experience with climate change and ecocide, following the different stages of grief.
The water spills over
riverbanks, jumps and slips everywhere
like unleashed dogs, carving
new pools into backyards. Do not
worry. The neighbourhood fills up,
children run in, shrieking
Mothers dunk in sore feet and soak
away worries. The forgotten
possible now sun-bleached and lying
somewhere. The fathers bake everything-
is-fine pies, squeeze nostalgia
like lemon-slices. They want to feel
the soothe of it, glassy surface
reshaping the slouch in their necks
from years of carrying big dreams
so close to the ground. They want to
unburden themselves of
all that star dust, all that
Now trees open early
their green little eyes. Isn’t it
lovely? Getting to work, their
trunks sponge up and
up the liquid. Like nurses
in formation, choreographed
to survival. This is
In the 1950s, kids would chase
the Skeeter Man down the street,
showering themselves in the cool
spray of DDT like it was an
opened fire hydrant. Like it
was healing water.
Your hands gripped
her throat because
she kept feeding you
bits of apple and making
your stiff little heart bleed
and birthing the side of
the living from which you
turned so that suddenly
her neck is a weapon twisting
around you like a boa
You did not mean to
pull up all that rich
soil, churning life over
and over under the sun,
extracting from your gaze and
storing beautiful specimens
in shoeboxes on the top
shelf. How good it feels
to soak those achieving
muscles in liquid gold
you mined for her, after such
hard work, the metal of
Now her voice heats your
face. Your cheeks on fire.
Her breath takes yours
filling the lungs with shining
dust. So hold those fingers
tight around your prizes.
Take a good, long bath
and breathe in that golden
steam now we all can’t
This blanket has a lump and it is
her, sleeping and vibrating to my touch.
Wool scratching fur makes tiny sparks.
I run my fingers along her spine and count
twenty-four notches. The blanket whimpers
and little fireworks.
Mine keeps me upright in this world, looking
at life-level. Even when it’s dying. I see fifteen trees
exploding into thirty shades of orange.
I see blue sea above. Thousands of black wisps
swim south back, guided in their bones to homes
that are gone. My spine reveals it.
I steep some tea and sit in the blanket with her
in wordless ceremony, some sort of goodbye.
She was never really for my words.
Instead she vibrated through life, her spine turned
soil side so she could listen to the earth’s pulses,
a more common tongue.
Now she is a coil resting on the floor. She is
breathless slow, those wild eyes kept closed.
I wish to see their yellow one last time.
Soon she’ll return to the earth that she’s been
humming along with all these years, merging
with a greater frequency.
To the lives we knew up close and those
we never met, goodbye.
We are the winter now,
snow flecks tumbling through bright open
sky and down onto new terrain.
We gather all that melted ice up
into our veins to remake, re-
generate. Our wild fire
was always there, held in
the long pain of a deep
inhale. Just breathe
to the bottom. All the way.
Like great forests
we have a job to do.
We have so much life to love
back into existence. Fear no longer
thuds against our backs because the
future has already vanished
So crawl into the skins of our animal sisters.
Inhabit the damp wormy dens. Encircle the nests
far up on balanced posts. Guide those
inflamed waters through their trenches
to the aching that is everywhere.
Invite the trees, like family,
to our thanks giving.
We need rich men to fly away to space
and never come home.
We need the long rays of the sun,
the quiet whisper of leaves.
We need all the colours of the field.
What we need is to gather around
this great earthly table, life
giving hand in life giving
hand and bow our
*This poem cycle is part of The Urge to/land, a zine written and edited by Brendon Goodmurphy and florence freitag for the The Urge to ... extended festival.
The full zine can be read here.
this zine has been funded with the support of Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa Projektraumförderung 2020/2021