Margaret Diehl

April is the Coolest Month (Looking Ahead)

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm

photo

I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately, some referring to recent emotionally distressing events/memories, but most feature strange men and vampires trying to kill me, which they have been trying to do since my 20’s. (Before that, it was ghosts, swarms of insects and evil fog.) The cat persistently meowing me to wakefulness, the husband making toast, the sounds of New York in the spring – these are welcome reminders of the little sorrows I really face: working for a living, getting older, remembering to open my mail.

I have a new Macbook Air, which is making me happy. I like all my clients and enjoy editing – novels, memoirs, academic papers, other – except for the inconvenient effect it has of making me want to write my own books.

I’m learning more from editing and from reading self-published novels than I ever did in writing workshops. In particular, watching the writing/reading process minimally obstructed by the publishing industry is fascinating: so many “bad” books are very well liked by readers, maybe not in the tens-of-thousands-sold sense, but in the hundred-plus five-star reviews on Amazon sense.

I’m sorry yo have to lost my financial freedom, but I appreciate having work come in over the airwaves – from all over the world at any time of day – meeting strangers and hearing their stories, honing my skills, feeling useful.

But mostly I love walking my city in the spring, buying strawberries and cupcakes, broccoli and tortellini, looking at the young beautiful women, the dreamy-eyed elderly, the street people with their snarly charm, and the groups of teenagers pouring out of the W 4th or 14th Street stations, thirsting for novelty, adorned with attitude.

The nightmares can have my slumber. I want the April days.

A new poet I’ve discovered—

Nothing is Lost

She would emerge from nightmares,
inch by inch, in the kitchen. Perched
on a wooden chair, she hugs her knees
. She is five, wearing a flannel gown
down to her ankles, with blue pistols
scattered over it, for killing mice at night,
her brother said.

The window lights up
like an altar. With her eyes half closed,
she looks at the particles of dust turning
inside the light, landing on the floor,
painted warm chestnut, as Mother
insisted.

The coal stove still unlit,
she hears the breathing of the house,
its sunlit silence rising and falling,
a fly stirring, brushing its wings, buzzing out of the dark corner.
I see her
making room among the shadows,
and remember: nothing is lost
until we miss it.

–Lucyna Prostko

- See more at:

Bed Work

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

thegirlsroom

I didn’t get outside today, but the light was lovely from my bed. I woke up tired, tried to nap after breakfast but was kept awake by Fitzroy batting my face and sucking on my hair. Then I imbibed more coffee and got to work, editing almost seamlessly, in the zone. The romance novel I’m working on is all sex and champagne, cashmere, Louboutins, pink marble, MoMA. Sonoma, Manhattan, Stockholm. My favorite parts are the descriptions of vintage kitty litter odor coming from a neighbor’s apartment, and the erotic dream where her boss rips her shirt off.

The light brightened and faded. Charles took checks to the bank, fed the cats. I ate leftover wild rice and Brussels sprouts, browsed Valentine’s chocolate online, wanting it now.

“Did anything come for me today?”
“Just the cat food. Are you expecting something?”
“No, but I want a present.”

I miss being nine, my body painless and nimble. Tobogganing in the back yard, making Valentines cards with construction paper, Elmer’s glue, little red heart stickers and doilies. The one for my mother was the masterpiece, of course, though as I remember it I always put too much stuff on, hearts upon hearts, a big mess of needy love.

I can’t make money and do my creative work at the same time. My imagination folds over and hides its face. Even letting it out this far to say hello to you all feels dangerous. One of my clients emailed, “You’re such a good writer! Why aren’t you doing your own stuff?”

The light today was like children singing. Like a crystal bowl of lemons, silver steak knives, and eight-year-olds singing in French.

Just found this poem by Cynthia Huntington. It brought back memories.

Shot Up in the Sexual Revolution: The True Adventures of Suzy Creamcheese

“So, why don’t you sleep with girls?”
“I’m not really attracted to girls.”
“Are you telling me you were really
attracted to every man you slept with?”
Conversation with a friend
1.

After twenty I stopped counting,
not like my friend Beverly, who sewed
an embroidered satin star on her bell-bottoms
for every new guy she fucked.
She had them running down both legs
and around the billowing hem,
and was starting up the inseam
when the jeans gave out in the wash.

It was a boys’ game anyway, those years
of our extended homage to the penis:
the guitar playing the penis, drums saluting it,
cock rock, Molotov cocktail, the motorcycle
gripped between the thighs, and I went down,
we all went down, in the old cultural disaster
of idol worship—a thousand-year bender.
Only this time it was the adolescent member,
oiled and laved, thrust forward arcing,
thin with ache, all tight flesh poked upward,
claiming its own. How it came and went,
penetrating but never settling down,
and how often we were caused to admire it:
hairless sweet warrior, raider against the State.

But I have this sweet pink flower
here between my legs—I put my hand down and touch it,
still soft and wet, and many-folded, endlessly opening,
hiding, seeking, hidden and sought,
but never very much admired or even smiled on
in those years, never served much less sung to.
Not a garden then but a citadel,
a wall to be breached, a new land claimed,
but linger there? No, I would say
there was an overall lack of appreciation,

though breasts were well respected, slopping loose
under T-shirts like little animals,
and I would feel my nipples brush the cotton
with pleasure, see them regarded also with pleasure.
Still, sex then was a taking, like spoils of war, a victory
over all those straight fucks back home, marooned
in the dismal suburbs that birthed us squalling and red
and watched us flee in ungrateful cars down night highways.

And God knows it felt good those nights.
I was ready, it was ready, to open and answer the call.
And take me down and roll me over, yes, and give
it to me—but why all this riding away afterward?

Where was everyone going
and why didn’t I get to ride along? Who knew at first
nothing had changed, just wanting the thrust and tug
and slam up against the headboard, I should say so,
but left still wanting more, wanting to leap
out of centuries’ shame and be something new,
not this old consolation of women for the powerless,
some kind of cosmic door prize awarded
just for showing up with a dick,
some proof to themselves these boys were men.

“You’re good,” he said. Hell, I wasn’t taking a typing test,
I was fighting to live in a dying world.
I was throwing myself away, an offering to wildest space,
surrender to the mind’s dissolve, the body’s electric light,
nerve endings firing like exploding stars.
“You’re good,” they all said:
you’d think somebody was doing a survey.
Girls say yes to boys who say no, and then
your professor asks if you’re wearing underwear,
when you meet for your conference on the poetry of Yeats.

Crossing the border after midnight in a borrowed car
after a visit to the after-hours doctor’s office in Sarnia.
Nodding out in the back seat, pills wearing off.
He was a legend among undergraduates:
cheap and reliable, always on call,
until a month later the headlines screamed
“Abortion Doc!” when a girl died in his office
and he dragged her down to the river
and dumped her body in the underbrush.

Cynthia Huntington

Cat Roaches

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm

bedcats

Lovely walk today in the sun and snow, the park paths smooth and white, the sky bright blue, activity everywhere, the cold gnawing on my face. I wanted to walk a long time, but only managed the park and Citarella, pears and broccoli, salad greens. We’ve been inside without vegetables for a couple of days, because we’re pussies.

You’d think if I fed the cat bits of pork chop, on a plate on the floor, and he didn’t want it, I’d shrug and go on to other things. No. I put the greasy bits in the palm of my hand, sit on the couch and let him dine the way he prefers to.

“I’ve fed you by hand,” I said to Charles, who was laughing at us.

“I can’t remember when.”

“Fruit,” I said, “Berries, cherries.”

“That doesn’t really count. But it sounds nice—an orchard, summer—”

I was thinking of the grand feasts of our early days, eaten in bed. Delicious food was almost as exciting to us then as it is now to the cats. Before he met me, Charles didn’t live with anyone who cooked especially well, and I’d never had control of a kitchen before. It was vegetables and fruits we splurged on, not meats or cheeses or baked goods. Those were too expensive. When I was young, you could buy eggplants and peppers and squash for pennies, bags of fruit for a dollar.

California last week was a sweet break, perfect warm days, friends, family, Mom’s 89th birthday. If it weren’t for the droughts and fires, especially the fires, I might consider moving out there again. Fire scares me, far more than hurricanes or terrorist bombings. We were delayed on the way to the airport by the L.A. fire, and though it wasn’t a cause for alarm, it was unnerving.

We came home to thin cats. They’d been fed, but not the way we feed them. Mouchette bawled like a baby and Fitzroy growled and ran away from me. They got over it. They’re plump again now, like Handsel and Gretel.

I keep being reminded of all the stories I’ve read (fairytales & novels not newspaper accounts: reality is too much) about people kept hostage, kids especially, who don’t know there’s a whole world out there.

It’s not my fault my cats can’t go outside, but I do feel a bit like a mad jailer. And sometimes I feel like I’m the one in jail, and these creatures I imagine are pets are really pests, companions in filth and delusion.

There’s no doubt I’ve read too much fiction. My brain is pickled. I wish I had a boy to massage my feet and a coconut cupcake.

One of my poems, for a change–

Untitled

Inside the fake Chinese chest
painted with dragons
armloads of unfinished work.

The sheets slide like new snow over ice.
All the typewriters are junked now.

Why can’t I ever be done with it?

It must be that I didn’t know
what should happen in the story
about the librarian and the aging

hermaphrodite
or the poem with its mouth full of poppies
like the signature of a serial killer.

You didn’t want to know
because you couldn’t bear the truth

or I didn’t know.

This is still the wide-open place
with a scarlet comma
in the middle of the page.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,068 other followers

%d bloggers like this: