ON THE SUBJECT OF CHANGING MY NAME*
*slam poem—intended to be spoken aloud
Leo Tolstoy stole my diary, and I can prove it.
Exhibit A—War and Peace, book eight, chapter one:
“It dawned upon him suddenly and for no obvious reason
that it was impossible to go on living as before.”
I can’t explain why I woke up one day to suddenly,
and for no obvious reason, find my name
clinging to my flesh like a cold, wet sweater.
The syllables formed nooses,
the letters crawled beneath my skin.
My last name isn’t the name of the man who raised me,
but it was the first thing that met me
when I came squirming and squalling into this world.
It gathered me into its arms and touched my cheek and whispered,
“I’ve been waiting for you.
We were once so full of promise.
How did it come to this?
Maybe my identity has been fading for awhile,
a dynamic shifting so slowly that I didn’t see it coming—