my name

i teach a creative writing course for middle and high school aged students who are homeschooled. it’s really fun and i appreciate the casual and community focused educational environment. one of my superstar students is a talented teenage poet who recently gave me a homework assignment, or challenge as i call them, to write a poem about my name. she is going to use the poem to then create a painting. here is my first draft of my name poem.




If it looks like a white guy
Sounds like a white guy
And talks like a white guy
It’s probably a white guy

I’m that duck
My name, a quack you’re accustomed to
A regular irregularity

My name is mayonaise
Cheap sliced bread
Dry chips with no dip

My name is hollow
And home
Three syllables
Or one
I am shortened without permission

I am a king and a toilet
A prostitute’s client and
A gift from god
None of which I am

But my mother named me Jonathan
People call me John
I despise the unnecessary ‘H’
Have held this hatred heavy in my heart
And let it go
Like bread for ducks

My name, I learned
Is not only mine
Is hardly mine
Is not me

But I am
What I make
Of it

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