Sunday, March 31, 2019

Tears of Thee

Lawrence Ferlinghetti's
Legendary Bookstore
Pity the Nation (After Khalil Gibran)
[written in 2007]

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b March 24, 1919)
American poet, painter, publisher and social activist
Pity the Nation
[written 1911 - 12; appears in The Garden of The Prophet]

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave
and eats a bread it does not harvest.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.

by Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931)
Lebanese poet, painter, philosopher, and nationalist


Many thanks to Peter Mills for the blogpost idea!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Obligation of a Child

From the poet W. S. Merwin
(September 30, 1927 - March 15, 2019)
writing about his father
in his memoir Summer Doorways:
“He had punished me fiercely for things I had not known were forbidden, when the list of known restrictions was already long and oppressive. I was told regularly that I loved him, as I was told that I loved God and Jesus, and I did not know at the time that the names for much of my feeling about him were really dread and anger.”

From the novelist Delia Ephron (b July 12, 1944)
writing about her mother
in the essay "Why I Can't Write About My Mother"
in her memoir Sister Mother Husband Dog:
". . . I was always wary around my mother. She was unpredictable. She could be mean. . . . I was always trying to read the signs, the looks between them, the jerky movements: Were they angry? What was coming? Would tonight be one of those nights?

. . . These are, I should point out, the things that children of alcoholics are sensitive to. Minutiae. Subtle details. Meanings that might sail over another child's head. I was always decoding. I was hyperalert.

Being hyperalert is a lasting thing. Being a watcher. Noticing emotional shifts, infinitesimally small tremors that flit over another person's face, the jab in a seemingly innocuous word, the quickening in a walk, an abrupt gesture -- the way, say, a jacket is tossed over a chair.
[*See comment below from Shuggie Bain.]

. . . I believe having an alcoholic parent is not only something to write about, but that there is an obligation to do it. Growing up as that child is lonely, isolating, confusing, and damaging. There are lots of us. If I have the power by telling a story to make an isolated person less alone, that is a good thing. Besides, I don't believe in protecting parents who drink -- sympathizing, forgiving, but not protecting. . . . Tell everyone. you might never get past it otherwise. The obligation of a child is not to protect their parents. Obviously. Obviously. A mom is supposed to protect her kids. Which doesn't happen when she drinks.

. . . But even with all the knowledge we have today, children are still keeping the secrets their parents want them to keep. Children are loyal.

. . . She never apologized. . . . My mother had created a version of herself that she sold to the world: She was completely pulled together. . . . Superiority was part of her identity.

. . . I remember having to summon up the nerve -- I must have always been intimidated by my mother, because otherwise why would I remember that this took nerve? . . . She never said or confided; she distilled and proclaimed. I lived my life by the Book of Mom.

. . . This staggering myopia resulted in the lifelong belief (I'm sure shared with other children of alcoholics) that, when I am looking left, something is coming at me from the right. I am always trying to look in two directions at once, which is impossible.

. . . How could I ever understand that? I was a kid. Children of alcoholics are always in over their heads. . . . Have I done something wrong? Have I said something wrong? I'm sorry -- whatever happened must be my fault. Is everyone all right, and if they aren't, how can I step in?

. . . Facts were not easy to come by at our house.

. . . was she simply scattershot mean, or did she just not really like me?"

[Disclaimer: As mentioned previously, I have not experienced alcoholic distress firsthand, but I know all about trying to put a good spin on a bad story. Ephron's essay brought it home to me as no previous description ever has that some families are emotionally poisoned by parental behaviors that uncannily mimic alcoholism even without the alcohol. No surprise then that these children grow up to behave very like adult children of alcoholics.]

From the psychologist Jordan Peterson (b June 12, 1962)
speaking on the topic of
When Is It Right to WALK AWAY From Your FAMILY?
“Take a look at the people that are around you, and if they’re not on the side of what’s good for you, then walk away. Because, well, first of all that’s best for them too. If you put up with that, all you’re doing is enabling it: it’s like [you are saying] 'Well, it’s okay that you mistreat me in a way that’s harmful to me and everyone else.' Well, actually, no that is not okay. It’s not the least bit okay."

Instead, you have to say to the
dysfunctional friend or family member:

You’re aiming down so hard [being so negative, hurtful destructive], I’m not coming along with you, and the reason I’m not is to tell you in no uncertain terms that what you’re doing is so terrible that I will even violate our kinship to oppose it. . . . You tell me the story that you use to justify your own idiocy to yourself, and then . . . you demand that because I’m compassionate I accept it and therefore validate your excuse.'”

More from Ephron, Merwin, Peterson


A bit of bitter humor from
Haiku U: 100 Great Books in 17 Syllables
by David M. Bader

The Social Contract
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

All vote. All consent.
It's like a big family.
Not mine, but someone’s.

~ Toxic Parenting ~

Friday, March 22, 2019

Golden Anniversary

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

~ William Shakespeare

Renewal of Vows for Marion W. & David J. Carriker
Led by our brother The Rev. Bruce L. Carriker

Someone once said that the only thing required for a marriage to work is two people too stubborn to give up on each other. Anyone who has known Dave and Marion for any length of time knows they both have a stubborn streak. And we're here tonight because, for fifty years, they've been too stubborn to give up on each other.

The 13th Chapter of Paul's 1st Epistle to the Corinithians is often read at weddings. It is a challenge and a charge to newlyweds, laying out what love requires. But, when we read it tonight, not for newlyweds, but for a couple renewing their vows after fifty years together, we read it as a testimony to their life together; an explanation for how they've made it this far:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is slow to anger and quick to forgive; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
There is a scene in the movie Parenthood where the husband, whose marriage is going through a rough patch, is talking to his grandmother; and the grandmother says this:
“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again!
You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all at the same time!
Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing to it.
I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
Dave and Marion will both agree that their marriage has been a lot more like a roller coaster, than merry-go-round. But, they're here tonight to say, in front of all of us, “Oh, what a ride! I want to go again!”

(Dave, Marion join hands. David first, then Marion.)

(Marion/David), 50 years ago I promised to love you, honor you, comfort you, and keep you;
To be by your side in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for the rest of our lives.
Together, we have created a family, a home, and a lifetime of shared memories.
Today, in the presence of God, our family, and our friends, I affirm to you that I love you more now than I did then; that all those promises are still true; and that I will be here for you, for the rest of my life.
Prayer: Gracious and loving God,
We give you thanks for fifty years of blessing Dave and Mation's life together; for the love, joy, strength, support and happiness they have brought to one another; and to those of us lucky enough to be their family and friends.

We ask your continued blessing on them, individually, and in the life they have built together and will continue to build together, all the days of their lives.

You May Kiss the Bride!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Pact: Sailing Right Behind

Belated Saint Patrick's Day
& Early Vernal Equinox,
& Thanks to my friend Mumbi
for this beautiful Friendship Rock!

I've been listening to a lot of golden oldies on the
car radio this week, including these two favorites:
Bridge Over Troubled Water
When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I'll dry them all
I'm on your side
Oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
Oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine

Oh, if you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

By Paul Simon

I'll Be There
You and I must make the pact
We must bring salvation back

Where there is love, I'll be there

I'll reach out my hand to you
I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there

I'll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I'm so glad that I found you

I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength
I'll keep holdin' on

Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, girl, is all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there

I'll be there to protect you
With an unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name, I'll be there

I'll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I'm so glad that I found you

I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength
I'll keep holdin' on

If you should ever find someone new
I know he better be good to you
'Cause if he doesn't
I'll be there

Don't you know baby
I'll be there, I'll be there
Just call my name, I'll be there
Just look over your shoulders honey, ooh!
I'll be there, I'll be there

Whenever you need me,
I'll be there, I'll be there
Don't you know baby
I'll be there, I'll be there
Just call my name, I'll be there

By Hal Davis, Berry Gordy,
Willie Hutch, Bob West

Esther ~ Kitti ~ Mumbi ~

Saturday, March 16, 2019

He Said She Said

Odysseus & Calypso

He Said:

I know very well, goddess, she is not beautiful
As you are: could not be. She is a woman,
Mortal, subject to the chances . . .

You are immortal and will never change
And can make me immortal also . . .

Nevertheless I long . . . for the island
Where the grass dies and the seasons alter:

Where that one wears the sunlight for a while.

~ from Calypso's Island *
~ by Archibald MacLeish


She Said:

Let's face it, I have been momentary.
A luxury. . . .

She is more than that. She is your have to have . . .

I give you back your heart.
I give you permission . . .

As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.

~ from For My Lover, Returning To His Wife *
~ by Anne Sexton


To read the above poems in their entirety

see my latest post:

He Said She Said

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony

* and click titles above
to hear the poets read their own work


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Old Letters & Notebooks

"Ribbons . . . pages of an old love letter . . ."

Burning The Letters

I made a fire; being tired
Of the white fists of old
Letters and their death rattle
When I came too close to the wastebasket
What did they know that I didn't?
Grain by grain, they unrolled
Sands where a dream of clear water
Grinned like a getaway car.
I am not subtle
Love, love, and well, I was tired
Of cardboard cartons the color of cement or a dog pack
Holding in it's hate
Dully, under a pack of men in red jackets,
And the eyes and times of the postmarks.

This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless:
A glass case
My fingers would enter although
They melt and sag, they are told
Do not touch.
And here is an end to the writing,
The spry hooks that bend and cringe and the smiles, the smiles
And at least it will be a good place now, the attic.
At least I won't be strung just under the surface,
Dumb fish
With one tin eye,
Watching for glints,
Riding my Arctic
Between this wish and that wish.

So, I poke at the carbon birds in my housedress.
They are more beautiful than my bodiless owl,
They console me--
Rising and flying, but blinded.
They would flutter off, black and glittering, they would be coal angels
Only they have nothing to say but anybody.
I have seen to that.
With the butt of a rake
I flake up papers that breathe like people,
I fan them out
Between the yellow lettuces and the German cabbage
Involved in it's weird blue dreams
Involved in a foetus.
And a name with black edges

Wilts at my foot,
Sinuous orchis
In a nest of root-hairs and boredom--
Pale eyes, patent-leather gutturals!
Warm rain greases my hair, extinguishes nothing.
My veins glow like trees.
The dogs are tearing a fox. This is what it is like
A read burst and a cry
That splits from it's ripped bag and does not stop
With that dead eye
And the stuffed expression, but goes on
Dyeing the air,
Telling the particles of the clouds, the leaves, the water
What immortality is. That it is immortal.

by Sylvia Plath (1932 - 1963)

Coming across an old college notebook of American Poetry,
I rediscovered the above poem; my long - long lost favorites
from Joyce Carol Oates, and my hand - copied Larry Levis
selections, along with numerous others.

For a few more examples, see my latest post:

He Said She Said

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Daylight Loses

Amphoe Mueang ~ Samut Prakan ~ Bang Pu Mai

The slow and steady progress of the seasons never ceases to amaze! Way back on Januay 16th -- seven weeks ago! -- my friend Steven posted the cheering news:

"Tonight's the last time the sun will set before 5pm.
Spring's on its way!"

Not long after that, it was 6pm. Then, only last week, without even realizing that Daylight Saving Time was so near, I observed a few rays of fading sunlight lingering until as late as 7pm. Gradually, without doing a thing, we had gained two entire hours of evening light since the year's beginning!

Next thing you know, we Spring Forward and the very next night, it will be light until 8pm -- and not even offically Spring for another week! Of course, and somewhat sadly, the evening's gain is the morning's loss. I have never really understood the so - called advantage. Just be patient for another few weeks, and the extra hour will accrue naturally as we gain a few moments of light each and every day -- no intervention required.

"Daylight loses to another evening . . . "
~ Jackson Browne ~
Last Day of February ~ Sunset in Bangkok, Thailand

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Eye Contact

A couple of years ago, when my nephew Hans
was recovering from surgery, he wondered aloud,
"What the heck is wrong with people
who refuse to make eye contact?"

I am proud to see that none other than Maya Angelou (above)
agrees with my response to him (below):
Dear Hans --

Keep on striving for that eye contact and don't worry about those who don't acknowledge. A few will and it will make your day -- and theirs. Years ago, when email was first a thing, your dad [my oldest brother, Dave] and I had a correspondence going about this same topic.

He was up in Pittsburgh, KS, at the time, and I was in Philly. Our plan was that he would walk around campus all day civilly nodding to all who crossed his path, and I would do the same in my neighborhood -- which was typical behavior for us anyway, but this time we would keep track of how many would respond with eye contact. The disappointing result was -- very few! Sometimes not a single person in an entire day!

What's wrong with them? Somehow it just seems to pain many people to acknowledge that they are surrounded by fellow travelers on the planet. Something has made them afraid and tight in their hearts. But don't ever stop trying to share that smile! I'm still at it, and soon your energy will return and you'll be back at it too!

XOXO, Aunt Kit
Post Script from Dave:

"And it didn't stop me from continuing to nod in open acceptance
and truly enjoy the occasional return. Hang in there Son."

Monday, March 4, 2019

Silk Windfall

According to an ancient Chinese legend, one day in the year 240 B.C., Princess Si Ling-chi was sitting under a mulberry tree when a silkworm cocoon fell into her teacup. When she tried to remove it, she noticed that the cocoon had begun to unravel in the hot liquid. She handed the loose end to her maidservant and told her to walk. The servant went out of the princess's chamber, and into the palace courtyard, and through the palace gates, and out of the Forbidden City, and into the countryside a half mile away before the cocoon ran out. (In the West, this legend would slowly mutate over three millennia, until it became the story of a physicist and an apple. Either way, the meanings are the same: great discoveries, whether of silk or of gravity, are always windfalls. They happen to people loafing under trees.)”

~ from the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
~ also, check out this tenderhearted essay!

Silk Display at the Jim Thompson House
Bangkok, Thailand

For more from Thailand
see my recent post

Baan Suan Ampond Residence

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony


Friday, March 1, 2019

Flora or Fish?

Hanging red flowers
Magically similar to
A floating red fish

"Whatever you think you are,
that's not what you are."

Ajahn Sumedho (b 1934)


For more Thai Proverbs
see my recent post

Baan Suan Ampond Residence

@ The Fortnightly Kitti Carriker
A literary blog of connection & coincidence;
custom & ceremony