Tag Archives: culture

Yes

Let us hope for a time of striving to understand each other right now and in the future. Presently, there seems to be a great deal of discussion around what was meant, what is truthful and what is respectful as well as based in intelligence. We need to remember there are valid differences between each of us, practice listening and asking openly framed questions. There is a lot to discover out there, not just protect.

Yes                                                                              Denise Duhamel

According to Culture Shock:

A Guide to Customs and Etiquette

of Filipinos, when my husband says yes,

he could also mean one of the following:

a.) I don’t know.

b.) If you say so.

c.) If it will please you.

d.) I hope I have said yes unenthusiastically enough

for you to realize I mean no.

You can imagine the confusion

surrounding our movie dates, the laundry,

who will take out the garbage

and when. I remind him

I’m an American, that all his yeses sound alike to me.

I tell him here in America we have shrinks

who can help him to be less of a people-pleaser.

We have two-year-olds who love to scream “No!”

when they don’t get their way. I tell him,

in America we have a popular book,

When I Say No I Feel Guilty.

“Should I get you a copy?” I ask.

He says yes, but I think he means

“If it will please you,” i.e. “I won’t read it.”

“I’m trying,” I tell him, “but you have to try too.”

“Yes,” he says, then makes tampo,

a sulking that the book Culture Shock describes as

“subliminal hostility . . . withdrawal of customary cheerfulness

in the presence of the one who has displeased” him.

The book says it’s up to me to make things all right,

“to restore goodwill, not by talking the problem out,

but by showing concern about the wounded person’s

well-being.” Forget it, I think, even though I know

if I’m not nice, tampo can quickly escalate into nagdadabog

foot stomping, grumbling, the slamming

of doors. Instead of talking to my husband, I storm off

to talk to my porcelain Kwan Yin,

the Chinese goddess of mercy

that I bought on Canal Street years before

my husband and I started dating.

“The real Kwan Yin is in Manila,”

he tells me. “She’s called Nuestra Señora de Guia.

Her Asian features prove Christianity

was in the Philippines before the Spanish arrived.”

My husband’s telling me this

tells me he’s sorry. Kwan Yin seems to wink,

congratulating me–my short prayer worked.

“Will you love me forever?” I ask,

then study his lips, wondering if I’ll be able to decipher

what he means by his yes.

 

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The New Egypt

I often think about the things I must be doing without really thinking about whether it is what I want or not. That includes all the things I work at acquiring while following the insistent voice that screams “I want! I want!”

Whether we conform or rebel as we build our lives, we are part biological, cultural, and environmental beings subject to happenstance.

This lovely poem doesn’t waste a word, as a daughter tells her story. It’s packed full of punch and meaning. Enjoy it.

The New Egypt                                             Robin Becker

 

I think of my father who believes
A Jew can out-wit fate by owning land.
Slave to property now, I mow
and mow, my destiny the new Egypt.
From his father, the tailor, he learned not
to rent but to own; to borrow to buy.
To conform, I disguise myself and drag
the mower into the drive, where I ponder
the silky oil, the plastic casing, the choke.
From my father, I learned the dignity
of exile and the fire of acquisition,
not to live in places lightly, but to plant
the self like an orange tree in the desert
and irrigate, irrigate, irrigate.

J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money

This is a poem that called forth varied reactions in writing class.  Some found it depressing and it raised confusion;  both made me doubt my reasons for introducing it.  Finally, though someone called it beautiful, which completed the gamut of responses.  I found it to be a poem that unfolded with every reading.  I read it out loud in the beginning of four different groups and it surprised me every time.  My first reason for using it had to do with the idea of money, which is a necessity many creative endeavor-rees struggle with. This poem is also part of an interesting series by the poet. I enjoy the way he’s found to refer to himself!

J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money                    Jeffrey Schultz

After Ernesto Trejo

 

And the morning’s marine layer cloud cover’s just beginning to unhinge,

to let the buttery light of another daybreak slip through

And weigh down the dead lawns and sagging rooftops

of this neighborhood, where Cold War era television antennas

Still cast shadows like B-52s heading offshore, where poverty, this early

is the smell of Malt-O-Meal and the dregs of thin beer

Washed down the sink. Where the shift begins at 7AM,

but consciousness has a way of coming round as slowly

As this old computer monitor flickers its dull sixteen colors into being.

On it, the names and numbers of laundromat and liquor store owners,

Fast food managers and lawn care companies; it’s my job

to cold call them, read from a script on the benefits of membership

In the Executive Dining Club, not take No for an answer.

I’m no good and both the boss and I know it, and he’s hovering

When the scraped-out voice of the woman on my phone answers me with

My husband’s been killed, and then, instead of hanging up,

Throws the receiver down next to something— dishwasher or window AC,

I don’t know— but something close, it sounds, to tearing itself apart,

Something cycling through an awful, screeching noise.

And it’s because I’ve paused that the boss flings a pencil

Into the wall in front of me and edges closer, and because of the fear

of unemployment forms or the sky opening up if I were to walk out,

And because this sound— the un-oiled, flak-fouled crack of it—

has left me standing suddenly at the end of a runway, planes

Screaming low overhead and loaded for the beginning of the end of the world,

that I start back into the script, start back as if I believe each word,

Even though, in the rattle and dust of the jet-wash, no one hears a thing.