"The Choosing of Names" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week

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"The Choosing of Names"

Second Place


"The Choosing of Names" reaches out to those who want to be declared special by their loved one via a name or word that comes from the depth of the belly and rolls off the kissing tongue. We take great pride in the name our parents gave us, or the one, later in life, that we chose for ourselves, because we know that in that name something mysterious is conveyed, that we are then connected to something deep inside another person, or perhaps ourselves. I am grateful to see this need spelled out in poetic detail that is both nimble and fluid. There is a sort of longing here that is sung straight from the soul to the page. I am reminded of the deep, beautiful longing in Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." Raitt has a guitar to help convey the emotion, and Laura Jent uses the rhythm of words and the placement of images with a tactile feel of strumming a guitar. --Zelda Lockhart

The Choosing of Names
by Laura Jent

I want a nickname only you know,
that means something like New Orleans to you.
I want to be the space around it, the low-lying swamp
you imagine holds all the dangerous jaws, dangerous teeth,
dangerous boats, dangerous men, and then
ramble up into a city of desire filled
with drunken tourists, sparkly things, drag queens,
old murders and abandoned mansions.
We can live!

I want to party with you at all the funerals.

When you say this little pet-word that means New Orleans,
I want you to think of me leading that parade, we'll swing, my hand
slung on your hip, a powerful trumpet tight and screaming
to my fingers, and when everyone else has gone home,
we'll be pretending to be ghosts, camping on the grave.
I'll pour bourbon on your New England skin until you're as brown
as an old wooden clarinet, and then I'll learn to master you.

That's what I mean when I say you should call me Lou or Lu or
Louisiana, hell, just call me New Orleans.

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