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.