Rivals – Charles Rammelkamp

Margaret could be such a bitch.
I met her when she spoke about birth control
at a Heterodoxy meeting,
our Greenwich Village suffrage group.
Later, I invited her to lunch, impressed by her talk –
all I’d known about birth control before
(a taboo subject, after all) –
was condoms, pessaries, douches and sponges,
none of them really accessible.

When the feds indicted her
for sending her monthly pamphlet, The Woman Rebel,
through the mail – violating the Comstock Act,
for which I’d be tried fifteen years later –
she skipped her court date, fled to Montreal.
She’d spend time in prison for her views.
She walked the walk, said I only talked the talk.
We’d collaborated on the launch
of the Birth Control Review in 1915,
but over time we had arguments,
and when Margaret founded The American Birth Control League,
she snubbed me.
Sanger told my friend the Brit feminist Marie Stopes
she “considered Dennett outside the pale of honesty & decency,”

which Marie later relayed to me.
Still, I felt compelled to defend Sanger
after the police raid at Town Hall,
when Margaret was not permitted to speak,
but when I tried to talk to the press,
Margaret’s friend, Juliet Barrett Rublee,
shoved me aside, sneering,
“This is our affair; we don’t want you in it.”

See what I mean?

Charles RammelkampCharles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives with his wife Abby. He contributes a monthly book review to North of Oxford and is a frequent reviewer for The Lake, London Grip, Misfit Magazine and The Compulsive Reader. A poetry chapbook, Mortal Coil, was published in 2021 by Clare Songbirds Publishing and another, Sparring Partners, by Moonstone Press. A full-length collection, The Field of Happiness, will be published in 2022 by Kelsay Books.