Slice of Life 30 – Fear a Narcissist With Many Jars #sol24

30 March 2024

Today I read Tabatha Yeatts’ Poetry Friday post. She had an idea to use the beautiful poem, “Trust a Woman With Many Jars” by Mackenzie Berry, as a mentor text.

Then while I sat in church tonight, the priest said, “We all have narcissism, some a little (he held up two fingers in a small pinch) and some a lot (he held his arms open wide).”

Yes, indeed. We are all sinful. God died to save us from our narcissism, but we remain vulnerable to ugliness in ourselves, and caught from others, as well. Now, with apologies to Mackenzie Berry, I used her poem as a mentor to write my own:

Fear a Narcissist With Many Jars

Who fills them with disgust and loathing
and makes others weep
as they fall off the train of empathy

Fear a narcissist who can blind others with hatred
whose art is dishonest dealing and grift
Who lacks conscience and skill

Fear a narcissist who says, “How stupid are the people?”
and “You have to take out their families.”

Fear a narcissist who
hijacks democracy
on the pinions of prejudice.
Who reviles truth.
Who projects pathology.
Who makes George Orwell
turn over in his grave.
Who learned twisted lessons from 1984:
“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”*

Fear a narcissist who
threatens an experiment
a quarter millennium in the making.

Fear a deranged narcissist
who calls for
total authority
and bedlam.
Fear a narcissist who demands
immunity from the rule of law.

Fear a narcissist Bible Salesman, who is a
“liar who takes pride in his nihilism.”**
Who breaks anything he can’t have for himself.

Who cons, who dupes, who fleeces.
Who is a broken promise.
Who spreads narcissism systemically
and without partiality.

We are all at risk.
Fear a narcissist, I beg you.

*1984 by George Orwell
**”Good Country People” by Flannery O’Conner

Stained glass window I was standing in front of during communion

15 thoughts on “Slice of Life 30 – Fear a Narcissist With Many Jars #sol24

  1. Denise,
    Lots to consider here. Yes, to the poem. You might have seen the Daily Show clip with Leslie (can’t think of her last name) talking about things about that guy people don’t seem to remember. They really do need to fear what he can do. He himself is a coward. And I’m planning to reread Good Country People this weekend. It absolutely is relevant in this moment, as are other Flannery O’Connor short stories. Love the stained glass, but I’m gonna push back just a little on your pastor’s comments about narcissism. I think in the age of that other guy we need to be careful about how we use that word, which has a very specific DSM definition. By claiming we all are a little bit narcissist, I worry it diminishes the impact of the word in terms of the depraved, such as TFG. I prefer thinking about people as inherently prideful and some as being so beyond the pale that they’re narcissists.

    1. You are right, Glenda. And Rita makes a great point having known a clinically diagnosed narcissist who wreaked havoc in her family. It is different.

  2. I fear that one such person will be reelected and have said so for a long time. Somehow people forget or do not see what I see in this danger. You cited many examples.

  3. This is a powerful post and so, so frightening to me. I have a beloved family member who staunchly believes everything that man says. He gets angry when others won’t listen to him try to convince us. The impact on our family is real and distressing. The impact on our nation is horrifying, terrifying and potentially catastrophic.

  4. Thanks for sharing this poem and photo. The repetition works so well.
    A favorite line: fall off the train of empathy

  5. Most definitely, fear a narcissist….and one in particular. I am buoyed by the number of folks who are beginning to really see what many of us saw years ago. I can’t imagine the impact on our democracy if we continue down that path.

  6. Yes, Denise, yes, fear him, I beg you. I was talking the other day with my younger daughter about how much I enjoy not waking up and wondering what treaty he has taken us out of, what ally he has rejected, what he has sold to the highest bidder, what U.S. state he is acting like he is not the president of. I don’t understand why anyone at all would want to go back to that. xo

  7. What all those before me have said, Denise, and this stanza particularly:”Fear a narcissist who/threatens an experiment/a quarter millennium in the making.” I think about that diction, “threatens,” “experiment” and the line of time and effort involved in its ongoing evolution toward justice…not yet, but in the “making.” Powerful words here.

  8. Denise, I know some of the ones “this big,” bigger than those arms of the words of the priest, and I see the arms of Jesus – – it takes those big arms to love people like this. And then this:
    Fear a narcissist Bible Salesman, who is a
    “liar who takes pride in his nihilism.”**
    Who breaks anything he can’t have for himself.

    And I have to stop and think how much love the arms of Jesus have if they can love that mockery and lying and scorn and hatred and all of those words. I have a lot of loving to do because my heart eclipses on narcissists who can’t see past the ends of their own noses. I hope I’m the person with just the pinch of the ingredient. Your poem gives me pause to think about it.

  9. What a powerful poem, Denise, thank you for sharing. The reference to George Orwell stood out to me the most. The predictions of 1984 are terrifying. You really bring power to that notion with the repetition of “Who______” I could feel the heat behind the words. Wow!

  10. Yes, I am full of fear. This is a powerful poem, Denise. So many strong, vivid lines. I think my favorite is “Who breaks anything he can’t have for himself” – it feels as if everything is breaking, just so he can have his own way. His personal indulgence is almost an art form at this point. Frighteningly successful.

    We are all at risk.
    Fear a narcissist, I beg you.

  11. Denise, This is a moving and important poem. I will be printing out and sharing it with others. I’ve read all the comments on this post and it feels good to know there are so many who echo the fear and sadness playing out in our country. I’ve been surrounded by good people my whole life until about 20 years ago, a true narcissist appeared (the old wolf in sheep’s clothing). Without going into detail, I can honestly say this person wrecked havoc on many lives. When “you know who” appeared on the political scene, my husband and I routinely remarked how similar these two people were. Yes, FEAR a narcissist. Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” I’ve come to see that narcissism really is an illness. I’m glad the Lord forgives, but as I search for forgiveness, I also remember not to let my guard down. Anyone with this disease should be feared.

  12. Denise, your poem is sensational. Yes, we have much to fear. It’s beyond my comprehension how people can rally around a significant evil narcissist your poem references. It’s absolutely terrifying and disheartening. I pray for something to happen so people will stop this blind support of someone so obviously dangerous.

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