My Two Names
by G. Murray Thomas

I’ve got a confusing name — George Murray Thomas.
It could be three first names, or three last names.

It’s confused people all my life, especially as my parents decided to call me Murray, which is not only my middle name, but is actually the closest to a last name of the three. Every year of grade school I had to set my teachers straight that I was Murray Thomas, not Tom Murray.

But now my name has reached a new level of confusion. It almost seems I am two different people:
G. Murray Thomas and George M. Thomas.
Murray and George.

G. Murray Thomas is a name designed for a by-line or a book spine.
Murray is a poet.

George M. Thomas is a name designed by a Blue Cross computer, which could not handle a full middle name.
George is a patient.

Murray spends his evenings hooked up to a microphone at poetry readings.
George spends his evenings hooked up to a dialysis machine.

Murray puts his name on sign-up sheets at open mikes, and waits for it to be called.
George puts his name on sign-up sheets in doctors’ offices, and waits for it to be called.

Murray sends out poetry to literary magazines, and hopes to be accepted, not rejected.
George sends forms to insurance companies, and hopes to be accepted, not rejected.

Murray is busy keeping track of deadlines, writing projects, publishing possibilities and that new idea for a poem.
George is busy keeping track of prescription renewals, doctor appointments, doctor bills, and whatever it is his doctor told him yesterday.

Murray works in a bookstore, a perfect poet occupation
but only part time
Because George is on disability.

Which leaves Murray plenty of time write,
But sometimes George just doesn’t feel good enough.

Murray has inspiration for a poem.
George is tired.

Murray is really inspired.
George really just wants to lie down.

Murray explores the possibilities of life.
George discovers its limitations.

Murray wants to taste everything.
George watches his diet.

Murray believes everything is possible.
George is painfully aware of just how little actually is.

Murray still thinks he’s a teenager
George is starting to feel really old.

Murray loves his life,
George ponders death.

George does give Murray plenty to write about.

And every time George ponders death
Murray loves his life even more.

Every time George feels life’s limits
Murray looks for new possibilities.

Every time George feels tired
Murray is more determined to write that next poem.

Murray doesn’t let George get too discouraged
George keeps Murray realistic.

They are both waiting:
Murray for his big book contract.
George for his kidney transplant.

They both believe that then
Everything will change.

SOURCE: Previously published in My Kidney Just Arrived, Tebot Bach 2011.

PHOTO: The author undergoing dialysis.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There isn’t much to say about the genesis of this poem that isn’t already explained in the poem itself. I am no longer on dialysis, as I had a kidney transplant in 2010.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: G. Murray Thomas has been an active part of the SoCal poetry scene for over 20 years. He currently edits a monthly listing of poetry events for, the source for information about SoCal poetry. He has published two books of poetry, My Kidney Just Arrived (Tebot Bach 2011) and Cows on the Freeway (iUniverse 1999). Visit him at