Kathryn Gahl

Archive for the ‘Kathryn’ Category

Bed Bugs

In Healthcare, Kathryn on March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

One morning at a writer’s colony, I awaken to bed bug bites. I count the red wheals on my legs, scratch, and then dress. There are no phones here (great for writing) so I cannot call anyone to register my dismay. I head down to the colony office, noting blue sky and green grass and soft summer wind. I am happy to be here, but bed bugs? The secretary at the office feels terrible and explains that the sheets were put on at the end of last season. She apologizes and promises to send in a housekeeper to change the sheets. Then she shrugs, we’re in the mountains. Bed bugs are nothing. Watch out for the moose. I laugh. I relax. I thank her.

When the housekeeper changes the sheets, I thank her, too. Yet that night, I think of the bed bugs. Wistfully. This is odd, ridiculous, and I puzzle over feeling a vague longing. The next morning, after a fine night’s sleep between freshly starched and ironed sheets, I wonder: could this longing be because, at night, no one nibbles? Do I miss the small advances, love in the dark playing past midnight? I think about those bed bugs. By now, they must be through the washing machine and out the hose of soapy water, splashed unto river stones or dog-paddling across a stream. I can almost hear them calling. We meant no harm, they seem to say. We were just playing and got carried away.

I squint into the bright sunlight. I am awake yet I am dreaming. I am dreaming of you with me in the morning, how I tingle, how your aliveness can touch me.


Without them, I’d be lost

In Kathryn, Weighing In on March 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

Who are your friends? Are they smart or whiny? Do they like wine or beer? Or, are they teetotalers? Can they dance? Can they keep the beat? Writing is all about keeping the beat. Screenwriters know that. Mothers know that. Even the last kid in the class knows that. Who are your beat keepers? Hopefully, they are there for you this St. Paddy’s Day, no matter what your nationality. Because in the end, we should celebrate while we are here. That’s called a cakewalk. But then that’s another post.

Crossing The Line, Chicago-Style

In Kathryn, Weighing In on March 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Leap Day of Leap Year. I am on the Hiawatha, headed to Chicago. I am beginning to anticipate an adventure. A conference. Over ten thousand writers coming to shake hands, shake heads, shake whatever needs shaking. I am ready for unexpected undertakings, scenes, ventures. Or, so I think.

Mr. Adventure meets me the moment I step out of Union Station. Let’s call him Mr. TallandDark because he is tall and dark. We could call him Mr. Springy too because he walks with a spring in his step. But TallandDark sounds more mysterious. Besides, the wind is brisk, his smile balmy, and I feel so lucky to meet this helpful man. He bows slightly and asks if I need a cab.

I am so in the spirit I say yes, yes, I need a cab for the cab will get me to the Palmer House that will get me to the AWP that will get me to dazzling panels and brainy readers and literary rock and roll. Mr. Tall&Dark whisks my luggage from me and I am thinking, wow, talk about curb service. We fairly float to the waiting cab and he lifts the trunk lid, puts my luggage in securely. Then, he turns, his lyrical voice changes.

Please, he says, extending his hand. Can you give me some money? I am neither jet-lagged nor sleepy but I cannot comprehend this. I have never paid a cab driver before getting into a cab. His gaze hypnotizes me. He stands firm, though his shoulders have dropped. I pull my wallet out of my purse, magnetized by the moment.Yes, he says, sounding apologetic. I am homeless. I need money to feed my family. I open my wallet and a collision of thoughts bombard me: how does a homeless person drive a cab? I am being scammed. Oh no, he’s going to grab my wallet and run. I am really really dumb.

At that point, the cab starts to drive off with my luggage in it! I am stunned. My head jerks between the moving cab and Tall&Dark&YesNowHomeless. Suddenly, Homeless slaps the trunk with gusto and yells, Hey! You! Wait! He rushes to open the car door and I jump in, the bills in my wallet still fan-folded open. I am about to give him perhaps a five, or a ten as my cognitive dissonance joins the cacaphony of the city.

Don’t you give him any money, the man behind the wheel says, breaking my trance. This is the first time I realize there was actually a man behind the wheel, for in the brisk wind my eyes are watering, the cab windows slightly tinted, and my neurons overloaded. I stare at the cab driver through the cage that separates us. They do this all the time, he says, irritated. Usually, the cops are here and they get them.

I tuck my bills back in my wallet and turn to Tall&Dark&Homeless. I hand him a dollar, my heart snapped out of one world, my head whacked into another. He smiles, but it is a close-lipped smile: a practiced snickering, sniggering sneer.

The cab accelerates. I look back and watch him join two other guys standing next to a yellow ribbon cautioning, Do Not Cross This Line. The three of them back-slap one another like seasoned street performers.

I grin. I got to see their show for a measly buck.

Trains, How I Loved You

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 27, 2012 at 3:06 am

I cross those tracks on
the old gravel road
imagining box cars of hobos
passenger cars carrying faces of party dolls
kids with suckers
grandmothers with train cases
salesmen, students, and soldiers.

The headstrong engine tugs and pulls
picking up steam
until I am the caboose
growing smaller down the long track

a dot
on the horizon of a lifetime

-by Kathryn Gahl

Thoughts On A Country Walk

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

and me having the mind
that I have

thought you said
what I wanted to hear

thought you thought
what I thought

about philosophy
and cognitive psychology

you being cognizant
of my mind

and me of yours
having a mind of its own

A Measure of Hip Sophistication

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

the girl with the single-strap
black dress tight in the right
places wears gold loops and sky-high heels
black and backless ones, open-toed, strapless

when she approaches the dance floor
tottering toward a measure of taking him

for he is tall and thin and glad
a reed in a hot clarinet
a rendezvous, his body
catching the downbeat in a flirtation break

if only she could master the contra body
(a rumba dip similar to Tango)

if only her peek-a-boo bosom
could rollout-to-attack

the importance of form dawning
on her pogo-stick frame
if only she’d kick off those
as they say high-heeled sneakers
and let her feet find the beat.

Photo by Owen Zylstra

Oh, My Quaking Ash

In Kathryn, Weighing In on February 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

After many of you heard about how the WRX painted the ash tree (properly called the quaking ash) royal blue, comments poured in–OMG, I can see you running to catch that car. Lucky you didn’t get hit crossing the road. Lucky it didn’t take off the car door. Glad you weren’t hurt. Glad you’re okay. But a recurring remark was this: Did you REALLY set the brake? Well, dear reader, the answer is yes. And to give you the back-story, that brake actually held for two minutes and 32 seconds, approximately. That’s how long it took to cross the road the first time to the blue (why is everything blue) country mailbox, open the door of said mailbox, pull out a lovely package that held copies of my latest publication, and then looked up to see a car barreling out of Two Rivers, toward me. I jumped back next to the mailbox to let the speed demon pass and out of the corner of my eye, I spied the blessed blue sportster with front scoop and rear spoiler roll backward down the gravel drive.

My own wheels kicked into gear and I crossed that bloody road, zero to sixty in six seconds. Or something like that. It’s a wonder I wasn’t hit.

When the tow truck driver came, he verified the brake was set. He then drove the car to make sure it didn’t need an alignment. (It did not.) Then, he parked the car and set the parking brake, noting and I quote, “That parking brake needs adjusting–she’s not grabbing . . . you had ‘er in place and she doesn’t grab ’till you crank her all the way.” (I ask you, why is it always a “she”?)

Anyway. The repair shop verified and again I quote, “The parking brake needs a cable-adjustment. It’s lost its leverage.”  For the layman (why is it always a layman and not a laywoman, oh yes, I get that), be advised that while rotor maintenance is a routine procedure in all vehicles, Subaru cars tend to require this much more often, sometimes every 15,000 miles. The rotor deterioration causes failed vehicle inspections, and they sometimes need full replacement. In some cases, the rotors are too damaged to easily remove. Further complications to the emergency brake may result directly from brake rotor maintenance. Any bobblehead can google this. If you drive an automatic, be grateful. If you drive a stick, turn off the car and place it in gear when you park it, so you won’t  rely on an emergency parking brake. Because if you do, you just might have an emergency.

How The WRX Got Its Blue

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I set the parking brake, crossed to get the mail

Then turned at a faint wail to witness the parking brake fail:

The car backward sailed until the aspen it nailed.

When husband came home, I felt like I was in jail

Though he said, don’t rail–we still have each other to hail.

Friday’s Mango

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Friday’s mango from the store                                                                                                                                                                                                  is ready on Wednesday                                                                                                                                                                                                             and Tuesday’s tomato takes Sunday                                                                                                                                                                                    each day of the week ripening                                                                                                                                                                                                like a relationship, tricky.

miss a day and                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the avocado goes soft                                                                                                                                                                                                                      limes dry, lettuce curls into brown

while the relationship hungers                                                                                                                                                                                                   for freshness                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       a splash of ginger                                                                                                                                                                                                                           with a side of insight

The Small Liver Literary & Little Postcard Post

In Kathryn, Postcard Poem on February 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

What has a liver to do with literary? Everything. Well, almost everything. The title comes from a couple I met living in the mountains, in a tent, frugally. Not just camping, but living there. Growing food and eating fish. What’s your motivation? I asked the young girl. I want to be a small liver, she replied, decades ahead of her time, not knowing that footprint and carbon miles would enter the vernacular.

So. I dedicate this blog to her. Tomorrow, i will tell you what postcards have to do with livers. And no, you don’t eat them. Although they are delicious.