JFZ HAT_4101
If You Call Me “Joan,” I’ll Think You’re Mad At Me
by Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike

Joan Margaret Hieger, it says so on my birth certificate
Hebrew: Jehudit Miriam—Jehudit, Hebrew for Judith
My sister, my mentor, my friend—“She will be praised”
In the Jewish tradition we honor the dead by naming
A child after the dearly departed—no Jewish juniors
This keeps the name of the person sacrosanct as long
As they live—except in an unintentional synchrony
In the case of my brother and cousin, both Roberts

Joan, after my mother’s paternal grandfather Julius
Margaret, after Morris, my paternal grandfather
Joan [Eng] means God is merciful; Margaret, Pearl
My mother’s heroine was Sainte Jeanne d’Arc
Odd for a Jewish girl to idolize martyred saints
Wishful thinking on Mom’s part, for I am no saint
So I feng shui-ed myself with two “N’s”—Joannie
Perhaps I was trying to make sure to be unique

Nicknames: Koala Bear, a reference to cuteness
Meant I was short, chubby and unlike other kids
Hobbit, all the above with furry feet—short-lived
Sweeter: Jo or JoJo. Brother Carl called me JaJa
Baby brother Bobby, Dudney—been called worse
As in Hiegerbug, a 6th grade taunt alternated with
The generic “chop.” Or libel hurled by ex-amours—
Idiot, fool, tramp, you are the worst person ever!

When I was a teen, Mom renamed me evil brat
And I certainly gave her good reason for her rage
We’ll let that go, since Mom is now my best friend
I wish I had a wonderful name like hers: Gloria
Like a prayer; on Patti Smith’s lips, a mating call
I identify myself as Gloria when she has trouble
Hearing on the phone. I feel like the Remarkable
Ms. Ripley, but I’m no killer, I’m a saver of time

Juanita, Johanna, Giovanella, Joanele, Jonesie or as
Old Mrs. Yacheva said, “Jonesie, vhere is the kittee?”
I prefer my own appellation, Jones (hip and concise)
Close to Josey, altar ego in a yet-to-be-written book
One friend dubbed me Yoni; oh, how I loved that!
Secret sacred name: Sansurai Rae, SanRae for short
My Wiccan name, though I haven’t joined a Wicca
Just danced around them, sometimes in the woods

My first husband tagged me Maggie the Mouth Girl
Joannie Margaret Fritz was my first married name
I dropped Hieger when we married, he changed his
To Landis. We went on the Fritz, we split, I dropped
The second “n” in Joannie because a psychic said
It held me back. I didn’t reacquire Hieger, but kept
Fritz as a stage name to become your DADAMama

My second husband dubbed me Best; he thought I was
I became Joanie Fritz Zosike. “Why don’t you go back
To Hieger, Best?” Johizo, Jofrizo, the jubilant Jonay!
My stepsons called me Auntie Joanie, never “Mom”
Until marriage two was over. I kept Zosike—I like Z’s
To honor my father when he died, I evolved to be
Joanie Hieger Fritz Zozike, the last of the Mohiegers
Buddha is my nature and my face often leaks Kali

My most beloved lover called me Cumquat—Hmmm
A cashier called me Indiana Joanie because of my hat
Ugly? Have to admit some beasts have called me that
Fritz the Cat, JF, JayZee; Judith called me tsatskeleh
My Mom calls me her baby; Germans call me Chonie
My friend, student, savior, Bright Eyes, my bête noir
Myopia, mitochondria, my love, my funny valentine
Dollface, Cutie, Gorgeous, never believed any of that

If you want to know my real name
It is a curious phrase
Unruly as the shape of this poem
Byzantine as a maze
It’s the who and how of what I am
At the end of my mortal days
Deep a drink of mountain water
I am the Moon’s Unruly Daughter

PHOTOGRAPH: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Write anything, just write. Or just wrong. You can’t do anything wrong if you write. Art is not a conscious nor deliberate process. The best we can hope for is sheer flight. I never knew there was so much to account for in my name until I sat down and wrote about it! Thanks, Silver Birch, for the constant stimulation and possibilities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike recently recanted her bicoastal life between Southern California and Manhattan’s Lower East Side to a ping-pong tournament between the LES and Manchester, NJ. Her nomadic existence and the reasons for it form and inform much of her current writing life. She has recently published in PIM (Public Illumination Magazine) in the Fortune issue under a pseudonym. That name is not included in her name poem. She also is in the upcoming Issue #9 of Maintenant, a dada/surrealist journal, and Issue 4 of At the Edge, a publication born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. She is currently working on a novel in prose, The Nose’s Tale, and directing Hot Air, the first collective work for the street by The Living Theatre since the death of its beloved cofounder and artistic director Judith Malina. Her first full-length book of poetry, An Alphabet of Love, is due to be published by Barncott Press (London) by the end of this year.