Archives for category: SAME NAME

Nine Day Queen
by Jane Burn

One month apart. Born
when autumn loosens the leaves,
fades the rose, buds all in earth —
believing we carry this gloom
of shortening days, leaving light.
Turning within, holding onto our green.
That Paul Delaroche —
he made her this pitiable thing.
I loved the touch of red
in her hair. I envied the length,
her kiss of a mouth.
How tender they are,
I used to think, with her.
She is about to die
and she is an angel’s galleon of silk.
Her ladies cry and clutch pearls —
I made a fantasy of all that delicate woe.
Named for the woman who birthed a King —
we Janes, we do our duty.
Such readers! Always
a book in our hands. Our mothers,
cold as hillstone, both.

IMAGE: “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey” by Paul Delaroche (1834).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lady Jane Grey was a young woman who has fascinated me most of my life. When I was a small child, I saw the painting “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey” by Paul Delaroche. It became a great favourite of mine, and even before I found out the truth about her sad end, I built many a fantasy around that picture. Tried to imagine what was happening to this beautiful girl. I believe this inspired the lifelong interest I have in history and I did, of course find out what did happen to her — found out about the circumstances and people that surrounded her. As I did, I could not help feeling that there had been parallels between us — that we had some sort of connection. I did not want to make these connections obvious in the poem — rather, as the painting did with me back then, I wanted to let hints and clues come through and allow the reader to interpret from the piece what they wish.

jane burn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Burn is a writer and artist who was originally born in Yorkshire, England, but has lived in the North East for the last 20 years. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines, including Butcher’s Dog, Obsessed With Pipework, The Black Light Engine Room Magazine, and The Rialto. Her work has also appeared in anthologies from The Emma Press and Kind of a Hurricane Press. Jane’s first and second pamphlets are Fat Around the Middle, published in 2015 by Talking Pen, and Tongues of Fire, published in 2016 by The Black Light Engine Room. She established the online magazine, The Fat Damsel in 2015.

PHOTO: Jane Burn on her 44th birthday. Happiness is art, poetry, friends, family, outlandish necklaces and hair bows.

Hacker Headline 1
Hacker’s My Name
by Tina Hacker

Used to be uncommon,
so when it first appeared in newspapers,
“Hackers Cause Computer Headaches,”
I cut out the headline, posted it
on my office walls. Soon had enough
to post on everyone’s walls.
HACKERS, the movie, turned
the swell into an ocean.
Never thought I’d be infamous,
send emails people wouldn’t open.
Might as well type SCAMMER
on the subject line.
Considered adding a disclaimer:
I’m not a virus or a vampire
sucking secrets from computers,
just someone with a name
as dreaded as an earthquake,
bubonic plague,
winter in Fargo.
Crashing worlds if not today
surely tomorrow.
Now on Blu-ray.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION:  Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see “Hacker” in a headline or article about people who steal or scam or both! My grandfather’s name was “Hacker,” of course. But it was also my grandmother’s maiden name. A double whammy. I created this photo of me holding a headline I’ve seen many times!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tina Hacker took an adventure tour last year to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. She is writing about her experiences, including tripping and falling down while crawling over bows of boats and climbing down into tunnels. Tina has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her chapbook, Cutting It, and her full-length book, Listening to Night Whistles, can be found on Amazon. She lives in Leawood, Kansas, with her husband, Lynn Norton, who is a sculptor and valuable editor.

Very Funny
by Caitlin Stern

People have asked me
if I was related to Howard Stern (as if there
weren’t twenty-five thousand others) several times
throughout my life
I wonder if he gets jokes (too)
about the adjective spelled just the same
but even so
we don’t share much more than our (starry)
He demonstrates a willingness to be
the center of attention that I (am quite happy
to) lack. And though
I joke from time to time
I’d rather the eyes (or ears) of the crowd
were on someone
But there’s one thing we don’t (yet) share
that I aspire to—
a spot on the bestseller list—because
like him (like everyone)
I’d like to be heard and maybe win
a smile or three
If I ever get my name below that famous banner
once (or twice
as Mr. Stern did) maybe someone someday will ask
if he’s related to me!

IMAGE: Cover of Howard Stern’s 1993 autobiography Private Parts.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though I did a search for my first and last name, I already had a famous person in mind—Howard Stern, who was the source of the second most favored joke people made about my last name when I was growing up. After a little research, I started writing the poem. While polishing the draft, it seemed to need a parenthetical aside, so I rewrote it to add in a few.


Caitlin Stern
grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where she read in trees, “published” her first book in elementary school, and had longhorns across the street from her middle school. Scorching summers and interesting juxtapositions inspired many poems and stories throughout the years. She followed her love of books to Angelo State University, where she worked as a tutor at her school’s Writing Center, and later as a Teaching Assistant while she earned an English MA. Recently, she has edited several novels for self-published authors, and had poems published in Silver Birch Press’ anthologies and online collections.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken in a bookstore, December 2015. Because nothing says holidays like books!


by Christopher Sloce

I stepped out in the cold, my breath showing just like my apron was, underneath my jacket. A girl I wanted all the ways you can and her friend shouted my name. I almost skipped over. She turned on “Big Poppa” and told me to dance. You wouldn’t have danced either.

The man from New Mexico said I could write but my grades sucked. All the teachers who never thought I’d amount to nothing, etc.

My shrink wanted a journal of what I felt so I wrote it and named it after your line in “Suicidal Thoughts”: Remo in Beat Street. I was having them, so did you; but I just threw myself against walls. It didn’t matter who Remo was. Just that I knew what it was and no one else could figure it out.

Beneath the Falstaff appetite and frames and putting words together to describe our world, there was always the question: are we worth anything? Is there any point to this we put ourselves through everyday? What if we’re the problem? And there were times we had the definitive answer: this isn’t worth it. Sometimes we felt victory. It was never just the sky’s the limit or an everyday struggle and it’s a waste to parse ourselves down complicated personalities to extremes. We were bigger guys who loved to drink dark liquor and play Super Nintendo who had questions we could never answer about the people around us and the lives we led, and the best shot at answering them came through words; the right detail to create the exact meaning.

My parents found my shrink journal. They were forced to kick me out no doubt but didn’t. Who’s to say I didn’t deserve it?

IMAGE: Illustration from The Notorious B.I.G. t-shirt, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote about Christopher Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G. The parallels are all metaphorical and emotional to the characters and world he created with his music. Rap music is not allowed to be subtly emotional or artful by a large portion of our populace. I think the underlying darkness of Biggie’s music is a poignant metaphor for mental disorders I suffer from and ways of coping. I weaved together moments that bounced from emotion to emotion and wrapped up with analysis and a question that adheres to what I get from Biggie’s music.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christopher Sloce is a writer and nonprofit coordinator from Wise, Virginia, currently living in Richmond, Virginia. He attended the Virginia Commonwealth University and graduated with a degree in English and a minor in Creative Writing. They haven’t paid rent yet.

PHOTO: Christopher Sloce, Hirshorn Museum, October 2015.

Echoes of Alexander
by Alex Simand

while you reach
for the Edge of the World,
the Outer Sea as vast
as your ancestral echo,
I shrink to the size a pea,
wonder what spears
I might drive into the urban dark,
what armies I’ve inherited
from your Persian bedfellows—
gruff men with fur hats,
impatient as the blood of bears.

my dreams gallop at times,
coloring my childhood atlas:
my tongue lolling from my mouth,
a red crayon in fist.
mine, I say, as you must have,
filling a kingdom with ambition,
flooding the world with it,
enraging the gods with your self,
casting your ego into coin,
imposing your phalanx like a phallus—
and I wake with your regal velvet
draped across my brow.

but it’s only my dog
for breakfast.

IMAGE: “Alexander the Great” by Rembrandt van Rijn (1655).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Alexander the Great is a pr**k. Having a name that is so broadly associated with greatness has always felt like an imposition on my life; the opportunity to look the damn name in its deified face was just too much to pass up. The contrast between the much-mythologized historical character and the miniscule me was a fun space in which to play.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alex Simand makes his living as an engineer, but will sometimes muster the courage to call himself a writer. He lives in San Francisco, hails from Toronto, and probably talks about poutine too much. Alex has worked on Lunch Ticket for the past two issues in various roles, including copyeditor, CNF editor, and, most recently, blog editor. His work has appeared or is set to appear in Angel City Review, Ash & Bones, Ultraviolet Tribe, Drunk Monkeys, Mudseason Review, and Red Fez. He has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net Award. Alex writes good essays, bad poems, and vice-versa.

PHOTO: Alex Simand in Burlingame, California, on Thanksgiving, 2014. Photo credit: Jessica Shamash.

The Last Muse
by Jacqueline Kirkpatrick

Pablo met Jacqueline when she was 27 and he was 72.
Though Picasso was known for having many mistresses, he only      married two women.
Jacqueline was the second.
In their 20-year relationship he created more than 400 paintings of her.

Down Chris’ right arm is my nickname, “Que.”
On the inside of Jon’s right arm is “Jack” in a heart.
He also has the sign of Cancer (my astrological sign) on his back.
He also has the date of our anniversary on his inner left arm.
Though he later covered it, Robert had the sign of Cancer on his      sternum.

An ex once wrote a song for me. It was simply titled, “I’m F-ing Your      Girlfriend.”
Another ex wrote a song about my name. It was called “Jacky.”

He called to tell me he felt like he was dying and that I had to come over to help him. I skipped class. I rushed over. He was kneeling in only a
t-shirt over the Bible opened in the middle. He had painted my face on one side and a bloody fetus on the other. He apologized, wiping acrylic paint down my arms, and told me that he couldn’t live without me.
I forget who I am.
I often look at myself through the eyes of those who look at me.
I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know how I got here.

And then they come
And I have purpose.
And then they leave
And I am alone.

IMAGE: “Jacqueline with Flowers” by Pablo Picasso (1954).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was named after Jackie O. but I never identified with her or even considered her as someone I’d ever relate to. At 13 I watched a special about Pablo Picasso, and I was introduced to the woman who inspired hundreds of his works — Jacqueline Roque. Since that documentary, I have had an obsession with the woman who became, but, more importantly, stayed Picasso’s muse until his death. To have that power to inspire is quiet a beautiful, striking thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is a MFA graduate from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. She has recently published in Creative NonfictionThought Catalog, and The Rumpus. Follow her on Twitter @thebeatenpoet or at

bathing-woman miro
Same Name — Sort Of
Joan Miró and Me
by Joan Leotta

As a child
when introduced to Miró’s work,
I thought he was a woman.
After all, his name was Joan.
My name.
I did not reckon with the Catalan
spelling of the Spanish, “Juan.”
As an adult, learning of
my mistake
invoked laughter and a study
of Miró at various DC museums.
I felt a bond with this
Catalan nationalist artist
through our almost-same names.

On a recent mother-daughter
jaunt to Turkey
my daughter booked for us—
writing, as always,
Joan Leotta, as her travel mate.
When we arrived at the hotel,
obviously mother and daughter,
our hotelier was visibly embarrassed.
“We made up a double bed,”
he mumbled.
We laughed at the mistake.
It’s ok, Mom and I can share,” she told him.
I agreed.
By the time we reached our room,
I realized what had happened.
Miro had taken his revenge!
On seeing the name, Joan
The hotelier,
More a fan of art than U.S. spelling,
The clerk had thought me, male!
Jennie and I chuckled.
Miró had taken his time,
but the great artist, so thinly related to me by name,
surely now was enjoying the last laugh!

IMAGE: “Bathing Woman” by Joan Miró (1925).

Jennie and Joan Leotta in Ephesus, Turkey, 2015

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I thought and thought about famous folks with my name. Sadly, I do not feel much of a connection with my patron saint — I have not been toasted for any cause. I was not named for Joan Crawford. Then I recalled that for sooooo many years, even after learning Spanish, I had thought Miro to be a woman! Not a fan of abstracts, I did not bother to investigate very much — for many years. It was not until I lived in Washington, DC, and visited several exhibitions of his work that I realized his spelling was the Catalan version of the Spanish “Juan” and that his most abstract works were a form of social protest. So, I came not only to know about him, but to love and appreciate his work — all because of our “shared” same name. And, truth be told, this past spring in Istanbul, I did truly wonder if the great artist was “tweaking me” for all the years I had thought him to be a woman.

PHOTO: The author (left) and daughter Jennie in May 2015 during their mother-daughter trip to Turkey.

joan leotta2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. Joan recently completed a month as one of Tupelo Press’s 30/30 poets. She has published or has work forthcoming in Red Wolf, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch Press, and Postcard Poems and Prose. Joan also performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash, North Carolina, where she walks the beach with husband Joe. She collects shells, pressed pennies, and memories.  Visit her at and on Facebook.

Jimmy Piersall1
Becoming Jimmy Piersall
by Jimmy Pappas

“Probably the best thing that happened to me was going nuts. Nobody knew who I was until that happened.” — Jimmy Piersall

I wanted to be “Jimmy” just like him, not “Jim.”
When my favorite center fielder hit his 100th
home run, he ran backwards around the bases.
I tried that with some friends but stumbled
to the ground going into second base.

Once at a Red Sox game, while all my Little League
buddies screamed at each play, I focused my attention
on Piersall. During a pitching change, Jimmy sat
on the ground tossing dirt against the left field wall
known as the Green Monster. Another player tapped
him on the shoulder to get him over to his position.
The mystery of that moment never left me.

At the time I knew nothing about his electric shock
therapy and never thought of him as mentally ill,
just different, not fitting in with the world around him.
When I watched the movie of his life story,
Fear Strikes Out, with his role played by Anthony Perkins,
who also starred as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s
Psycho, it only added to Piersall’s appeal for me.

Now, standing at the edge of a still pond,
I gather up some pebbles and toss them in,
watching where the ripples end up.

PHOTO: Jimmy Piersall (born 1929). Photo courtesy of Caption Under Photo: Back with the Red Sox after suffering a nervous breakdown last summer (1952), Piersall could become one of the league’s top fielders.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Whenever I am introduced as Jimmy, people continue to insist on calling me Jim. This poem is the true story of what originally inspired my preference for being called Jimmy. Here’s my one-that-got-away story about playing center field in the Little League: I reached over the fence to rob someone of a home run, à la Jimmy Piersall, when a boy on a bike knocked the ball away. My one chance for glory ruined.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jimmy Pappas received an MA in English Literature from Rivier University. His poems have been published in such journals as Atticus Review, Misfit Magazine, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is a recent first-prize winner of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s National Contest.

PHOTO: Jimmy Pappas reminiscing about baseball.

My First Hero Was Brent Jones
by Brent Jones

At the same time
Different place
You could find Brent Jones twice
For one, the backyard was like a stadium
For the other, the stadium was his backyard
We came to play the same game
In the making of who we wanted to be
Moments in memory of when we gritted our teeth
But you could still see the grin
One was 31
The other only 5 years old
Flattening green grass with big boy steps
Our main man has the ball, sends it into the air
The sun stares down hard watching both Brents extend their fingers           toward the sky
Some 1000 miles apart
When the catch is made, do you hear
The din roar of 34,000 fans or
Simply the breeze whispering through the trees
At the end of the day,
One wore the championship ring of the 49ers in ’94 for tight end
The other wore a 49ers Champion brand jacket for years until it was too           tight

PHOTO: Brent Jones was a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers from 1987-1997.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Growing up and looking for idols, my first was an easy find: Brent Jones was a pro NFL player my father pointed out while watching the Super Bowl. It was a happy thing to hear “I” ran for a first down or that it was “me” who caught a short pass.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brent Jones is currently teaching English to elementary students near Tokyo, Japan.

isobel crawley

by Isobel Cunningham

I love Isobel Crawley of Downton Abbey with whom I share my first name. She is about my age so I identify with her. I’m a retired hospital social service worker and share some of her infuriating “do-gooder” impulses. She is a character who bridges the social classes in the hugely popular snooty soap opera set in a great English house. She’s not really an aristocrat, yet she would never leave the house without a hat! How easy it is for us both to be tolerant and egalitarian from her comfortable middle-class position. I like her comfortable middle-class look and although I would prefer a more bohemian image for myself, I have to admit to a certain physical similarity. Her exchanges with the dowager, Violet, are delicious and I often wish she would score more points in these clashes. It is surprising to find someone who shares the unusual spelling of my name. It is unusual yet not “freakish,” as my own British Edwardian grandmother would say. She was born in 1874 and some of her pronouncements on social mores still ring in my ears. My name was supposed to be Clare but something inspired my father on the way to register my birth. Typically, it was on the very last day permitted and something on that long bus ride made him change his mind. I’ve always been grateful to him for his impulsiveness, his arrogance, his assumption that my mother would calmly accept this unilateral decision of his. I can’t remember ever meeting another Isobel and all my life I’ve had to insist on the correct spelling, particularly since I live in Quebec now, a French-speaking province. It is pleasant to know the other Isobel and I hope I live up to her ideals.

PHOTO: Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley in the television series Downton Abbey

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The creative process is often stimulated by images. I love to take photographs of my immediate surroundings, my garden, the graffiti on the walls of my city, household objects. I find these images are triggers for my work. I also draw a lot on legends and fairytale themes. These timeless threads can be woven into modern stories very well. I like to take different viewpoints in my writing. Seeing situations through the eyes of the different characters enriches my narratives.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isobel Cunningham recently published her first book of poetry, entitled Northern Compass. She writes short stories and flash fiction and has been awarded honorable mention in the monthly Glimmertrain competitions four times over the past 15 months, and is presently writing a novella about post-Roman Britain. A docent at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, she regularly writes for the in-house magazine. She is grandmother to three young children who expect stories at every meeting.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in my kitchen by my oldest grandchild, Samy.  He is the one who dubbed me long ago, “the story machine.” The picture was taken in October 2015.  I think I really do look a little like my literary namesake, Isobel Crawley…perhaps a little less serious, however!