JG LMU Beard
The Dichotomy of A Name
or How I Am Too Old To Have Been Named
After A Rock n Roll Legend
by Jerry Garcia


Venetian blinds pour
yellow light
into a Charles Eames
living room.
I’m the toddler stumbling
off the Formica walnut
A Vivian Maier
like snapshot
finds me grounded,
wearing a Onesie
with a chocolate smudged

They called me Jerry.
That’s who I was
Jerry with the precocious


In the chalky dust
of a parochial classroom
the black outfit of an Irish nun
calls me Gerald.

I am six-years old
and confused
by the happenstance
of learning my given name.

It wasn’t a mistake of pronunciation.
No one had ever called me Gerald
to my face.


Venetian blinds create
cyan shadows
in the Leave It To Beaver
living room.
That portentous screech
always leaves me limp.

So significant a bellow
I feel the piss well up
in my bladder.
No escape now.
Mother appears
through living room

Whatever breaks,
tears or gets wet
is most likely my doing.
Always on the run for it.
Oh! How those squeals extract
my passion.


The guitar becomes a refuge
in the alcoves of Catholic high
where I seemingly become beatified.
To be like – chosen, man.
To learn that my nickname
belongs to a God.
Jerry Garcia,
master of six strings
and harp unstrung,
rock icon and symbol
of a generation.

Less so for me
the introverted dreamer
with acne face
always on the run.
Learning Latin
with a minor chord


The names remain the same
Jerry vs. Gerald
–confusing priorities.
The precocious smile
and the rock n roll beard
goes gray.

So listen now
with no regret,
for in Jerry Garcia’s
Grateful Death
Gerald sings with impunity
the Robert Hunter lyric
“…let there be songs
to fill the air.”

PHOTOGRAPH: Jerry Garcia circa 1974 at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since first grade I have gone by two names, and it is as confusing to me as it is to anyone else. My formal name is rather stuffy and of course my nickname is famous. For many years I have said that I am too old to have been named after him. Thanks to the Silver Birch prompt, “In a poem, tell us all about your name,” I was able to clarify for myself and possibly everyone else the confusion of my names with this autobiographical poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jerry Garcia is a native of Los Angeles, California, who is too old to have been named after The Grateful Dead guitar hero. He has been a producer and editor of television commercials, documentaries, and motion picture previews. His poetry has been seen in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Chaparral, The Chiron Review, Askew, Silver Birch Press, and his chapbook Hitchhiking with the Guilty. He is a past director of the Valley Contemporary Poets and serves on Beyond Baroque’s Los Angeles Advisory Committee.