'Racial' note contains lines from poem about suicide

David Yates May 3, 2011, 5:37am


In a $4.5 million federal lawsuit filed April 17, a Dallas pastor and members of her church claim they were discriminated against because of their race by employees of a local Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Among the discriminatory acts, the plaintiffs allege that as they were leaving the restaurant they were handed a note which they say was a racial threat.

The note read: "Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live."

However, the Southeast Texas Record found that those lines are from the poem "Resume" written in 1925 by American poet Dorothy Parker.

The complete poem reads:

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

It is one of Parker's most famous poems, and is based on her first experience attempting suicide by cutting her wrists in 1923.

The speaker in the poem casually lists various methods she has tried in committing suicide. She decides it is too much trouble to try and kill yourself, so you "might as well live."

Parker herself attempted suicide several more times between 1923 and 1932, including overdosing on sedatives, consuming a bottle of shoe polish and taking sleeping powder.

But Parker lived until June 7, 1967, when she died at age 73.

The poem found a new audience in the 1999 movie, "Girl, Interrupted," about a young woman's experience in a mental hospital.

The lines are recited by the character Lisa, played in the film by Angelina Jolie.

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