Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 11, No. 6, 2012
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Louis René Beres
Samuel Burd
Daniel Charchuk
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


Ray Filip



The poems of Raymond Filip were dramatized along with other Lithuanian writers such as the Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz in an off-Broadway production in New York entitled Etched in Amber (1989). In 1994, he won the QSPELL/QWF poetry award for his book Flowers in Magnetic Fields. His work appears in The Penguin Treasury of Popular Canadian Songs and Poems edited by J.R. Colombo (2002). And this fall he released a DVD entitled Rivers Applaud Forever, containing footage of his spoken word/broken music performances in 2012.

ARTS & OPINION: I was rocked (shaken) when I read "Ride Along the River After the Death of my Father." In particular, this line: "Till the hearse hid your ass in the abyss." I thought to myself that not only does the author hate his father, but since the poem has been entered into the public domain, he wants the world to know that he hates his father. How old were you when you wrote the poem and did you in fact hate your father when you wrote the poem?

RAYMOND FILIP: Well, that poem is a long story! The tone is very definitely angry. But anger is a common emotion following the death of a family member. Mine consisted of righteous indignation. I don’t “hate” anyone.

The poem comes from a past life, my born-to-be-wild days when I would ride on my Kawasaki 650 across Canada and the US, doing poetry tours, zooming through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I liberated myself from my father and the Second World War a long time ago. Sure, if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if life only gives you rotten slices? Born and mutilated in a DP camp because of medical malpractice back when I was a 2-month-old infant, homeless, stateless, and eventually fatherless due to his endless domestic violence, what was a poor boy supposed to do?

I could have just curled myself up into a self-pitying ball and died in some dark corner of the Douglas. Instead, polyvalent talent served as a booster shot for high self-esteem. (A place where I intend to stay permanently!) A mother carries you for nine months, and then a father takes over as your dream carrier for the duration of a lifetime. It can be the Kennedys and Camelot, or the hockey dynasties of Howes and Hulls, or a standard legacy such as yours, I assume. I had no such luck, no goody-goody daddy, no footsteps in which to follow, no male provider and protector. My first childhood memory is of my papa throwing a drinking glass at my mama’s head, and blood rushing down her arm like a long red glove when she tried to shield her face.

My parents kept splitting up, and trying to get back together again because it was disgraceful in the 1950s especially for an immigrant family to break up upon arrival in the new land of promise. My father, a failure of a son, even cut off communications with his fatherland. All the letters from Lithuania came from my mother’s side. He had all the vices: drinking, gambling, womanizing, smoking Simons cigarillos which eventually killed him with throat cancer. He was a wife beater. He molested my sister. And he would yell if I simply asked for a nickel to buy a pencil to do my homework.

His leather belt with the sharp buckle and his Pinkerton’s security-guard pistol were the weapons he used to terrorize us inside our tiny apartment and — outside. He even burst into my friend Yvon’s place one afternoon because his family happened to be the only other immigrants, Germans, living on Evelyn St. too. In my father’s war-warped imagination, the Germans were still the despised enemy, even in Canada, still the invaders of his homeland.

Yvon’s mother stood frozen with horror when he invaded the privacy of her kitchen and started beating me there. I could feel the fall of Berlin, and the fall of Stalingrad, and the fall of Vilnius with every whack of his strap on my arms and legs and back and behind. Some neighbours watched as he whipped me all the way home, but they didn’t want to interfere with a mad maudit polack. Those beatings weren’t exactly the love taps of Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,’ or “Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar.” They felt more like Khrushchev’s shoe shaking up the United Nations.

I witnessed my father attempt suicide twice, but he was only bluffing, I realized later. We abandoned him the night he threatened to murder us before leaving for his night shift. Better for him to come home and discover a departed family, than the police discovering three dead bodies the next morning. My father was known to the police but not to me. I had no respect for him when he was alive. But at the age of 30, I did sneak in to view his casket during his funeral service, and then snuck out to write that poem. “Ride Along the River after the Death of my Father” flowed out in one shot.

ARTS & OPINION: How did other family members react?

RAYMOND FILIP: My mother and sister both have repressed the past; mentioning it just causes too many anxiety attacks. As a form of tough love, I informed my sister about PIS (Post Incest Syndrome). But she has always been stubborn ever since I can remember, and she stubbornly remains incommunicado. My mother, however, is a happy ending. She’s content for the first time in her 83 years of life. She’s enjoying quality care at a nursing home surrounded by mountainsides and workers who give her kisses and birthday surprises and a stuffed monkey to sleep with!

My mother worked at a man’s job, as a factory hand, hauling flour bags for Ogilvie Flour Mills. She had to put up with bigots breaking into her locker and stealing her small change, sprinkling racial slurs along with flour all over her hair. Then on Sundays, for over 50 years, her rare alto voice sang Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, Gounod and hymns in the Aušros Vartai choir, a renowned group of vocalists still in demand across the Canadian and American circuits.

She would never admit it but my mother was a performer. Each Christmas, Miracle Mart would pipe in carols recorded by her choir. I could mention her imaginative storytelling too, her facility to turn a phrase as easily as flipping a potato pancake, making up her own words; her wit coping with any situation, living in the moment. Her creative needlepoint embroidered pillows that belong in an art gallery and not on a living-room sofa. She shaped us with her original recipes for cooking, as well as her unshakeable faith. So my mother — not my father — instilled all the right values without any notions about “art.” There is no dividing line between art and living. Those borders are unnecessary and too expensive to maintain. That’s why I don’t call myself an artist. I’m just a man of many parts.

ARTS & OPINION: What events in your father's life caused him to behave so unnaturally towards his family? What turned him into a monster?

RAYMOND FILIP: The war did it, and then Canada. My mother said he was alright until we came here. In Germany, he had been the imperious man-about-the-DP camp, hands on hips, equal to the predicament, the cavalier black marketeer. He would shower my mother, a farm girl, with jewelry and chocolates and a mink stole while the other camp members were surviving off ration cards.

In Canada, he found himself digging ditches. Manual labour was an aversion to a handsome devil like him, to the manor born, flashing his rings. He came from a medical family of doctors and dentists. Spoiled, not abused. On my birth certificate, for his occupation, he had stated that he was a “Student der Medizin.” A medical student. He couldn’t live up to the expectations of his heritage. And out of the twists and turns of his mental torque, from shattered dreams, emerged the monster.

ARTS & OPINION: So your father’s self-esteem took a beating from which he never recovered. Could he be to any extent excused as a victim of events over which he had no control?

RAYMOND FILIP: My father’s entire generation had experienced genocidal slaughter that had disrupted or terminated their formal education. So no excuses. The decent, hardworking Lithuanians in the community adapted to their new environment. They advanced. But my father couldn’t keep up with the Jonases. He was constantly fired, first from Canadair, and then from Barnes because they caught him stealing boxes of potato chips that he was paid to guard.

He slowly distanced himself from Aušros Vartai parish, and must have felt totally alienated in the French east end of Verdun. Our 3 1/2 with a shared bathroom was his last domain. He obsessively studied his security-guard uniform which he would hang in the kitchen. Dry cleaned. Pressed perfect. Wehrmacht tsik tsuk! An authoritative façade for his inadequacies.

I’m sure he must have noticed Monsieur Cahier, our neighbour, the postman, who taught me how to skate with my first pair of Pocket Rocket blades. A dad’s job. Monsieur Cahier also taught me how to bodycheck his two sons without smashing down the fence in his backyard, where he would string a lightbulb along his clothesline above the skating rink at night so we peewees could shoot and score into the wee hours, our shouts rejoicing across the back lanes. My father just grumbled to himself whenever he saw his son fraternizing with a French poupa. He wouldn’t dare invade their homes.

My best friends were French. This is why, as a Lithuanian allophone historically dispossessed of language and culture, I feel much closer to the francophones than the anglophones. I prefer the French pronunciation of my name. My father couldn’t speak a word of French, and his English was terrible. I was too ashamed to bear his polysyllabic jawbreaker: Filipavicius. But proud of my Lithuanian ancestry! The built-in rhymes, speech rhythms, and musicality of the language influenced my spoken and written English. So I decided to exorcize the tail end of his name —
(even teachers mispronounced it as “vicious”) — while retaining my roots and identity.

Therefore, the “victim” position doesn’t really explain his maladjustments, because who hasn’t felt socially, psychologically, culturally, economically, politically, sexually, or spiritually victimized? No doubt, his existence seemed powerless and hopeless. But again, that’s no excuse for depravity. The measure of a man amounts to the number of obstacles he has to overcome in order to achieve his goals. My father and I both had to face three major obstacles: a divided self, a displaced family, and a dysfunctional country.

Sometimes personal and public issues can both be resolved through one civilized outlet of expression. For example, after the War Measures Act of 1970, the PQ victory in 1976, and the lost referendum in 1980, I decided to create Pluriel: the first bilingual public reading series in Montreal. English and French authors still weren’t talking to each other. My dream was to attract an overflowing crowd of Québecers similar to a hockey game. With the generous support of Gwen Hoover of the Canada Council, I stood like an ambassador at the door of Union des écrivains, butterflies orbiting the fleur de lys inside my stomach.

I shouldn’t have been astonished by the warmth and friendliness with which I was greeted by Michel Beaulieu, Paul Chamberland, Denise Boucher, Nicole Brossard, or Gérald Godin. (Not all at once!) Pierre Vallière even offered to translate my first book of poems Somebody Told Me I Look Like Everyman. When I asked Gaston Miron with whom he wanted to read, he replied: “Le grand Al Purdy!” So I booked the Atwater Library for an encounter between the greatest national poet in Canada and the greatest separatist poet in Québec.

But! The night before the battle of the giants, Al Purdy called me long distance from Roblin Lake — (so he must have been serious) — to request that the three of us, Gaston, himself, and this alarmed host, simply meet at a McDonald’s somewhere to chat. I couldn’t believe it. It took me about ten minutes to reassure him that no FLQ terrorists would show up, and that no rocks would be thrown through any windows. Forget that Anglo siege mentality. Reluctantly, Al Purdy agreed to read.

The rest is a dream come true. Crowds kept streaming in off the street to the poetry recital just like at a hockey game. That miraculous event in 1981 was captured on video. And I also cherish the photo I have of Al Purdy raising Gaston Miron’s hand up in victory. It was Canada’s finest hour. Nothing like that will ever happen again. Pluriel led the way to something like Blue Metropolis ten years later. Would my father have been proud? A victor, not a victim. No. He wanted me to be an engineer. But constructing a pioneering reading series helped to bring our fractured Canadian family closer together. And it gave me the right to dance on bridges, as fulfilled as a forefather!

ARTS & OPINION: Did any family member ever try to explain to him the cause and effect of his behaviour?

RAYMOND FILIP: Which family member? We were displaced. Only four of us on Canadian soil. Not once did we ever sit down together at the same table to break bread and talk. That’s how scared we were of him.

As for cause and effect, I was the only one interested in reunification with our lost family
in the lost country of Lithuania during the communist Cold War era. A dangerous obstacle.
If you’re not willing to put your life on the line, then why write? So researching my roots,
I found myself lying low on the floor of my cousin Donatus’ Lada, as he drove me under cover of the night past the Hill of Crosses in Šiauliai. I managed a quick 1-second peek at the skeletal presences of about three or four crosses that had been planted there in political defiance. My cousin Algirdas suffered the reprisals for smuggling a foreigner into the interior, off limits from the Soviet-controlled Intourist routes. He ended up serving a jail sentence of one month because a village snoop had observed my western running shoes running into his farmhouse.

I returned safely to Canada and began to write about retro-fixing my displaced past. Edita Nazaraite, a Lithuanian émigré poet and painter, would translate my verses and then relay them through an underground chain to be published and read clandestinely. That was this hyphenated Lithuanian-Canadian’s link to the human chain in 1989 that joined hands and voices across The Baltic Way which stretched across Lithuania-Latvia-Estonia for 600 kilometres in the “Singing Revolution.” Our peaceful resistance worked. We kicked out the Russians!

The Hill of Crosses was spilling over with a forest of cruciform wonders, towering wooden
crosses or adorable family packs, when I arrived again on Lithuanian soil in 1993 at the behest of the writer’s union Rašytoju Sajungos. It was the thrill of a lifetime to receive a hero’s welcome, making the front pages of newspapers, appearing on radio and TV, performing in my mother’s birthplace of Šakiai, and being voted the laureate of the Poezijos Pavasaris festival for that year. Our minibus transporting the poets on tour had stopped along a country road to dance a polka and drink some vodka while feasting on eels, breathing in deeply the sunny fresh air of freedom and euphoria in Lithuania!

The poetry recitals were broadcast on national TV. Little did I know that my reading in the courtyard of Vilnius University was being watched by my father’s mother! My 93-year-old mociute sent my cousin Raimonda (my female counterpart) to the Žali Tiltas hotel where invited authors were staying — a logical choice since it was the only hotel at that time with hot running water. Raimonda caught me in the cafeteria just as I was about to catch my flight back to Canada. To save a lot of explanation, I gave her my translated poems — including the one about my father. His mother and sister Emilija wept while reading it, I was told. Apparently, he was the black sheep of the family. But joy was the most active ingredient in their tears. And the most epiphenomenal triumph of all was that we had found each other. Finally!

ARTS & OPINION: As you learned to understand what turned him into an abuser, were you able to sympathize with him at all?

RAYMOND FILIP: Sympathize with what? The evil in him? His lack of strength? A father is supposed to be a winner, not a loser. I remember his loose grasp and laughter while dangling me over the 4th avenue bridge one day, threatening to throw me into the canal. It may have been his diabolical way of toughening me up for the future, father-son roughhousing and all that.

But I doubt it. I would have preferred pitch-and-catch as primordial bonding. Yet, as a kind of polar flip, his negativity did force me to look for positive role models elsewhere. So he gets my sympathy vote for that at least. Sports heroes substituted for an unathletic biological papa not worth the dirt in his bellybutton. Champions display the courage and grace to shine, despite their injuries.

My dad? Like an instant replay, I can still see him smashing my table hockey set against the wall one morning just because it happened to be in his way on the floor when he woke up. A nice holler guy! Behind my back, he even tossed out the shoeboxes full of baseball cards that I had hid under the bed. Again, he most likely considered himself to be in competition against outside forces, athletes on screens or in magazines, manly specimens, seizing control over his son. So who can sympathize with a bad sport?

By chance, in the summer of 1960, like an oracle beside the river, I found a stray golf ball behind the fence of the now-defunct LaSalle golf course. I started playing that gentleman’s game in my back yard with a plastic Steinberg’s putter, rolling the ball over dirt and rocks into a tomato can. I loved reading about golf lore too. And what beautiful swings! Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Gene Littler, poetry in motion — (although I couldn’t verbalize it back then). And the Big Three, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were a big hit with me too. The King, The Golden Bear, and The Black Knight walked and talked with the gallantry of ordinary gods living next door. They had risen from humble beginnings to become rich and famous, masters of the game, family men, and social benefactors building schools and hospitals in their name. The grand slam of dreams. I wanted to be like them.

But! The Big Three had benefited from the encouragement of athletic-minded fathers. My old man would crush my tomato can when backing up his car — in between his routine automobile accidents. He couldn’t even handle a stick shift, so I shudder to think what he would have done with a 7-iron. He was a cleanliness freak, always hosing down the dust in our backyard and the street, getting his jollies off by wetting the pretty French girls passing by. That was the extent of his sporting interests.

Nevertheless, thanks to my descent from his refined bloodline, I can now visit his side of the family in Lithuania. They are all my trophies. I now understand my place in our family tradition of dissenting voices, the train loads of garsiu žmoniu, prominent people, who were sent to Siberia to be silenced. Perhaps my father’s divided self would have been appeased to see the remainder of our family circle unified in an independent Lietuva? This time, I plan to play golf at the V course in Vilnius. Victoriously, it was the first course built to introduce that capitalist sport into the country after the Soviet regime. Peace in the world begins from peace within. Past, present, future: centered. At the end of my poem, I forgive my father. That is the extent of my sympathy. That holds true this very minute, as it did over 30 years ago when I wrote it. He’s been long forgotten just like his beatings that used to keep me awake in bed, writhing as if thrust through a threshing machine. Every morning now, I squeeze my GripMaster, a fist pumper, the same way I used to throw a rubber ball against the wall of a parking lot each day as a kid for fortitude.

ARTS & OPINION: It strikes me, Ray, that you are beholding to some phony ideal that says we shouldn’t hate our fathers, that we should forgive, a Christian notion. Nietzsche (Revaluation of Value) would not only approve of you hating your father, he might accuse you of dereliction, of being a bad son -- shrinking away from justifiable patricide when self-preservation demanded it. I sense that your mind doesn’t like the idea of you still hating your father, but your gut is telling you otherwise. Your comments. Did you ever consider patricide for the greater good of the family?

RAYMOND FILIP: Nietzsche’s mother and sister should have shot that syphilitic, psychotic (arguably anti-Semitic) walrus disguised as a philosopher! A mental masturbator.

Bluh. A backward idea such as “justifiable patricide” smacks too close to the Muslim- extremist code of honour killings: dementia in the name of Allah, forever oppressing those lovely Arab wives and daughters. Nietzsche’s writings even served as Nazi fodder. This is the year 2012, the Human Genome Project rules the truth now governing bioethics. Bury those phony, 19-century racial ideals about paternity and genealogy. It’s over, man!

You’ll end up doing time in a Canadian prison for patricide, using the “dereliction” and “bad son” arguments as a defense. As a good son and brother, I told both my mother and sister that, if I had been older and bigger, I would have beaten the shit out of my father. When I was a student at McGill, I happened to spot my father one day amongst the pedestrians walking in front of me down the same sidewalk. I had grown much taller than him, and I couldn’t believe that the pathetic small figure in front of me was the man who had destroyed my childhood. My muscle memory naturally directed my feet to the opposite side of the street to get around that human stymie, and to move ahead with my dreams. I beat him.

And my forgiveness did not stem from any “Christian notion.” It was more of a non-negotiated peace of exhaustion, a Perpetual Oblivion, Amnesty, and Pardon in keeping with the principles of European chivalry. Remember, during that period, I was reading up on Lithuanian history: Gediminas and the Grand Duchy of Mindaugas, the Polish Partitioning, the Thirty Years War and so on. My poem put an official end in writing to the 30 years war between father and son.

ARTS & OPINION: Looking back, is there anything you, or especially your mother could have done, should have done to stop your father?

RAYMOND FILIP: Back in those days, there were no shelters for battered women — and children. The cop at the reception desk told us that this was a private, family matter and to go see a priest. The priest told us that this was a criminal matter and to go see the police.

ARTS & OPINION: It’s no secret that in most cases, whether the abuse be sexual, physical, or psychological, the abused is likely to become an abuser. Did you ever find yourself caught up in this vicious circle, in school, as an adult, perhaps as a father?

RAYMOND FILIP: I’m not a statistic. Individuals can rise out of the rubble of a “vicious circle” just as nations can. Look at Germany today. It’s no secret also that most studies with a controversial result get the publicity. I’m willing to bet that the majority of the abused out there just want their children to have the happy childhood that they never had. That won’t make the 5 o’ clock news.

Unfortunately, my wife is infertile. But better than adoption, we have a gifted 10-year-old niece, from a broken home, under our supervision. My wife and I regard her as a gift to us. She’s following in my footsteps with her love of reading and writing and learning. A merry punster. She’s winning music contests already with her terrific voice. And yes, taking up golf! She’s a little Filipina who even wants to accompany her “uncle daddy” to Lithuania.

As for my school days, I had to put up with the eternal recurrence of verbal abuse and corporal punishment from Brother Augustine. That religious patriarchal goon would whack me behind the ears if I couldn’t reel of Latin declensions fast enough for him. When I graduated from Verdun Catholic High, instead of a high-school leaving certificate, they should have given me The Iron Cross.

So I channeled all of my anger into writing and sports: socially-sanctioned arenas for violence. There would be no Beethoven, no rock ‘n’ roll, nor a Muhammad Ali, if it weren’t for abusive backgrounds. President Barack Obama turned out okay, chasing his dreams, not trapped inside any spin cycle of bad-father vices. So did Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan. All non-abusive parents themselves. Daily adversity forces a child to mature faster, develop leadership qualities, the ability to stand alone. So I’m not turning into a reluctant elitist, the world is just becoming more and more homogenized.

Unlike my father, I was creative, not destructive — although I did learn how to swear from him. (My coarse adult language really “rocked” you!) Those of us who have grown up fighting for our dignity almost every day of our lives have to be prepared for that vicious cycle of stigma that stabs like a service dagger out of nowhere. Walk a mile in my FootJoys. The love comes from me, the hate comes from others. And yes, there is one poem in my new manuscript that honestly contemplates mass murder. I wonder what Nietzsche, if he were still alive today, would think about it?

I have no doubt that my death will be marked by bloodshed and tragedy also. It’s been a persistent pattern that has stained my entire life since birth: a smiling baby for post-war target practice inside a Lübeck-Vorwerk, Artilleriekaserne. Where will it end?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

below, in its entirety, ray’s paean to his father


Can’t remember your voice —
River spray of years
After desertion, divorce,
And the tears and hiccups of growing up
Without a father to figure out life.
I can hear your belt buckle
Across my bleeding ear;
A blank service revolver
Banging against your loaded brain;
Pointed at our heads in bed
After a ritual quarrel.
We wore bloodcrusts
Like a family crest.
Netikelis with no capacity for anything
But to overkill vodka bottles
And communicate hate.
Cancer clamped you by the throat,
Shut you up into a shriveled scribbling
Gagging gargoyle gigolo face
That could launch a thousand ambulances —
‘Til a hearse hid your ass in the abyss.

Wish I could have heard you singing
On full-tilt UNRRA refugee ships,
Accordions hurled into the ocean.
A DP who did peepee
On his marriage altar.
My papa zipping on a Nazi Zündapp,
Flashing diamonds and leather,
With money to burn in Berlin after the war,
Selling black-market watches and smokes
To schnödes and hoods.
Your parents’ rich orchards and horses
Evaporated under Stalin’s sun.
My next of kin:
Skeletons in a closet as big as Siberia.
Mama could have met a better husband
Picking names out of a helmet.
Honeymoon in a Nissen hut
With nine other bunkbeds;
Homeless bodies scattered
Like broken beads of amber.
No deliverance from war
— Cold or civil —
In Québec: failure.
Another ground zero.

Our only good-time laughter together
Unrolled on redeeming rides along the river.
I was the “navigator,”
The one who could read English,
A boy carrying his father on his shoulders.
We chased the speed of light
In a Plinz sports car,
Getting lost going to Plattsburg Beach.
But sure as apron embroidery,
River roads returned us safely,
Never to sit at one table,
A family of four:
Four prongs on a fork,
Four wrong people together,
Disfigured son and shapely daughter
You denied having fathered
During the postwar baby sh-boom sh-boom.
Dented sense of identity,
Friends became family.
But you found them out,
Beat me in their bathroom,
Beat me in the street,
Beat me behind mother behind the stove
Cowering “like a hen in the corner.”

After the cancan of courting a second wife
For her property,
You finally hit paydirt:
A dream shithouse by the Lakeshore,
A hole in the ground
To take with you to the grave.

Refuge now in the fast blur of this river,
At your funeral I felt like a trespasser,
Uninvited, standing still as your heart;
Mahogany casket untouched by my hands.
The river won’t stop for me.
Handfuls of earth flung high into the heavens
Fall back into the boils of rapids.
Black breath of anger disperses
With the peaceful pulse of the St. Lawrence.

Here is my voice,
My forgiveness,
Flowers round sun wheels of Lithuanian crosses,
Leaving you
As you left me,
Lost child on
An abandoned road.


Email Address
(not required)

I am Ray's older sister about whom he speaks here. What he says about my father is true but what he leaves out is that he told me to stay incommunicado as apparently my mother also did and not the other way around. So it's been about twenty years since we spoke. We touched base when my mother tried to commit suicide about five years ago. They didn't want to see me, just send money for her care. He never mentioned in his interview how I tried to talk to him over the years. I cried too many tears thinking I did something wrong. Then someone assured me it wasn't me.

I always supported Ray both financially and emotionally as a young poet at McGill; he failed to also mention that I was the one who told him we could do Pluriel, this after the death of my father, around 1980, we got together again. He got the writers but I got the first venue, designed the posters and plastered them around Ste. Catherine St. I was pregnant with my son in 1985 and he complained at my lack of assistance then. I had a difficult pregnancy so I could no longer help him. He is godfather to my son and has never stayed in touch with his nephew.

With Ray I always felt he was in competition with me. Even in parenthood. It has to be about him always. He's manipulative with others and he couldn't manipulate me, his older sister, so it's convenient to call me stubborn. He talks about tough love re PIS and doesn't believe me when I tell him I have overcome my pain. I have broken the cycle. He is the one that is still in need of therapy! It helps to be away from an emotionally abusive brother who wants to keep me down. I didn't want to rain on his parade, so I moved to Alberta, my husband's home.

This month, we will celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, married to the man that both my mother and brother didn't like because he wasn't Lithuanian, so not good enough. They wanted me to marry a lawyer! We are a close knit loving family here out west. I am now retired and a writer whose work has been published in literary magazines, plays, poems, and a short creative non fiction piece was nominated for the 2012 Alberta Literary awards. My first novel coming out in 2014 surprisingly is with Guernica Editions. I have come full circle, doing what I was always meant to do. I also am a visual artist, something my brother said I was good at but not writing! Oh, and he speaks about my mother in loving terms, this from a son who rarely visited her in Montreal, while I phoned her every Sunday when I moved to Edmonton to see how she was and if she needed anything. She didn't want to come with me. She chose her son. Ray has a selective memory. I wish him no harm. He has always been a gifted poet and performer. Wasn't sure if I should comment, but you know, life is short and I needed to set the record straight where our relationship was concerned. I have always been proud of him and am glad to hear that he and my mother are well. Thank you.

My Dear Sister:
Papa is still inside of you. For certification, just examine your recent sneak attack.
After my character assassination in this public domain, you hit and run, riding on
my coattails. Again! And you leave behind no email trail. Who is the manipulator?

As your brother, I have always had the impossible task of trying to protect you from yourself.
To understand you better, I studied research about PIS. To understand mama and papa better,
I set foot on Lithuanian soil. You have stubbornly refused to do both. That would take courage
and integrity. Yet, you pretend to “set the record straight.” Your words skip like a broken record
that I have heard too many times.

Let me point out all the cracks in your broken record:

1- The sibling rivalry, the “competition” that you talk about, has always come from
your side. In the interview, I clearly state: “This is why I don’t call myself an artist.”
Making music, making a meal, or making a golf swing, they’re all just part of daily
rhythms. I’m not competing against anyone -- just like mama! I have moved on.
I’m into golf now, and into maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. Something
I have encouraged you to do because of your sick, obese body, and mind games.
When your son was born, I went to the Royal Victoria hospital to congratulate you,
and what were your first words to me? “Now that I have a baby, I’ve outgrown you.”

2- Louis Dudek and I conceived of Pluriel -- as well as the Bens Poets Corner --
during our eternal conversations throughout the 70s at Bens. You weren’t around
then. But to encourage your literary and artistic talents, I let you do the posters for
my series. I discovered the Cafe Commune as our permanent venue. I froze my butt
off putting up most of the posters around Montreal. I didn’t need, or ask for your
support "financially and emotionally": cheap lunches at Harveys. And I certainly
didn’t need your childish guilt trips about your pregnancy. I needed bilingual support,
someone with a good head on her shoulders to help me with the difficult emcee
chores and multicultural diplomacy. "It had to be about him always."” No. It always
had to be about Canadian and Quebec nationalism, Lithuanian independence,
and the fight for peace during the Cold War era.

3- Because you can’t speak French, you were fired from your secretarial job at CPP.
That’s why you “moved to Alberta.” Not because you “didn’t want to rain” on my
parade. Your torrent of attacks also included my writer friends -- or even the Centaur
theatre. Again, to encourage your writing interests, I would get you free tickets that
you would always pressure me for. Afterwards, again and again, you thanklessly
attacked me and The Centaur. Every show!

4- You had married a bum from out West, a hulk with personal issues. You had met him
at the YMCA where he was sleeping with other transients. The bum quickly began
to beg for money from me and mama: “The Bank of Bena.” She generously gave
you money for the first installment on your house, as well as for your car, from her
meagre savings as a cleaning lady. The bum continued to mooch money off mama,
all the while criticizing her cooking, lifestyle, and European values. I was the only
man standing between him and The Bank of Bena. This is why mama trusted me,
and excluded both of you from her will in 1986, as well as from her revised will in
2010. (Your selective memory failed to mention her will and her choice to protect
her money!) Mama was tired of supporting both of you, constantly biting the hand
that fed you. A daughter in her 50s and her husband never weaned from the womb.
Shame! She had become afraid of your “aggressiva” ways. A daughter: a dagger. That’s why she didn’t want to see both of you in person anymore. Mama and I had warned you not to
marry that useless hulk, not “because he wasn’t Lithuanian.” But because we
thought that you deserved someone better than a bum off the street. We were right.
That wimpy hulk turned out to be always sick, always unemployed, always going
back to school. And! Always stooping so low as to beg for money from his Christian
mother-in-law, instead of borrowing from a local bank. Taking advantage of an old
pensioner, how low can you go? That’s what you did “wrong.”

5- Yes, you did phone mama “every Sunday” from Edmonton, too often to ask
for more money! And when mama would enquire about what you were doing
with her sent money, you would abusively reply: “None of your business.”

6- It’s a total lie that I “rarely visited” mama. I had to take care of her cataract operation.
I accompanied her to doctors’ appointments. I spent every weekend for over a year,
leafing through a 138-page CLSC booklet, checking out nursing homes, public and
private. We communicated every day. Mama suffocated me with calls. She even
called me once on my cell while I was teaching in the classroom! I visit her every
Friday now at her nursing home. MAMA NEVER EVER SPEAKS ABOUT HER
DAUGHTER. (You knew this while you were writing to straighten out the “record.”)
Why does your own mother never ever mention you? Because of your senior abuse.

7- After mama’s accidental fall, (due to improper medication it has been established
now), you didn’t want to come and comfort her. You jabbered on the phone longer
about your dead dog than about your mother in the emergency ward! So my Filipino
wife suggested that you “send money for her care” because that is the tradition in
the Philippines when a family member can’t attend to an emergency. But typical PIS
projection, you tried to make me, a tenured teacher, look like the mooch! Funny,
how selective memory can remember this one isolated request -- from my wife
and not from me. Yet, you totally blocked out your decades of demands for cash
from The Bank of Bena to pay off your endless debts. . . followed by your endless
ingratitude and endless snipes at your generous mother.

8- And last but not least, my indelible memories of you are of a big sister:
a bitter sneer. You inherited papa's facial resemblance, as well as his
aggressive temperament. Two-faced, just like him, you know how to
put on a polite front in public to make yourself look good. In private,
just like him, you started the "incommunicado" standoff. It began in the 1970s, when you were living in the McGill ghetto with that
bum, both of you constantly necking in front of me. I nevertheless tried to resolve
our family feud. Feeling threatened, the hulk assaulted me. As I got up off the floor
in the hallway, the words from your gritted teeth still ring in my ears today: “Stay out
of my life.” And that’s exactly what mama and I have tried to do because of a sister
and daughter suffering from PIS, consenting to violence and abuse, while stubbornly
living in a state of denial.

So my dear sister, you are obviously the one who needs “therapy.” You still have not
"broken the cycle." You still lack the humour and the grace that shows genuine conquest
of inner demons. Instead, the papa in you, the PIS in you, is evident throughout the
frustrated “fucked up’s” and the "fuck you up's" in the poems that your selective memory
chose to attach to your attack.

My poem about our troubled relationship, “My Sister, My Self,” has continued
to be studied in many schools because I managed to create beauty out of pain.
I wrote it at around the same time as “Ride Along the River After the Death of
My Father.” As my final encouragement to you: please select the
precious few happy memories from our childhood together,
and celebrate them.

Tough love is still love. Su meile and peace.

The Patricide Papers caught my eyes and I found it fascinating. I respectfully submit a poem by Philip Larkin that echoes Raymond Filip's sentiments rather eerily.


They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.


. . . I learned early on, when I was about twelve
He enjoys giving people bad news of themselves
Although part of a general empathy lapse
He’ll pretend that it’s only for you he has gaps.
He will treat you as if irredeemably flawed
For in judging you so he feels closer to God
It’s a woebegone man who will shed a sheep’s clothing
And bully a boy to dispell his self-loathing.
To everyone else he’ll be seem cool and informal
Aware he’s being watched through the eyes of the normal.
But different is he when he gets you alone!
Then his words become weapons, selected with relish
All aimed to negate you; himself to embellish
He’ll jeer and belittle and scoff on a whim
As if words cast your way will deflect them from him.
And that’s how he’s been for at least fifty years
With a Dexedrine chaser to stifle the fear
He’d been trapped in the mirror by old Vladimir.

Now I’m no Carl Jung and no Melanie Klein
But consigned to the dark of an obdurate mind
Is a shame beyond reason, a shame he won’t see,
And the shame of himself that he wipes off on me.
At the age of 18, I beat up my father bad and wished I had killed him. Years later, I realized it was too late, it wouldn't have made any difference. I was like a soldier who got his legs blown off in a war; I would never walk normally again. If you've been abused as child, there is no cure. There is only breaking the cycle.
I'm in my 70s now; no contact with kids for at least 25 years, divorced twice. I was abused as a child and very late in life realized that there is a choice and revenge doesn't have to be it.
Hello.This article was really interesting, especially because I was searching for thoughts on this subject last couple of days.
Until the abusers are punished for their crimes, taken off the streets, away from the families they are torturning, the epidemic of abuse will rage on. Abusers are sick; if they're not jailed then they should be institutionalized. I don't care what anyone says or claims: once you've been abused you never come all the back. Never.



Help Haiti = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
2012 Montreal International Documentary Festival Nov. 7th - 18th
CINEMANIA (Montreal) - festival de films francophone 4-14th novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
Bougie Hall Orchestera Montreal
Arion Baroque Orchestra Montreal
2012 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 10-21st, (514) 844-2172
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
Nuit d'Afrique: July 10th-22th
2011 Longueuil Percussion Festival: 450 463-2692
Montreal Jazz Festival
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
Montreal World Film Festival
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101
CD Dignity by John Lavery available by e-mail: - 10$ + 3$ shipping.
© Roberto Romei Rotondo
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal: May 18th - June 5th (514 737-3033
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
April 29th to May 8th: Pan African Film Festival-Montreal
2011 Festival Montreal en Lumiere
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
Photo by David Lieber:
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
Canadian Tire Repair Scam [2211 boul Roland-Therrien, Longueuil] = documents-proofs
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis