Archives for posts with tag: names

by Carol A. Stephen

Perhaps I laugh a little louder
when I watch Carol Burnett
traipse down a staircase, shoulders broadened
by green velvet drapes as she mocks Scarlett O’Hara’s antebellum belle.

I might find myself mugging in my mirror,
making moues, tilting head,
ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!
It’s what she said, as she sidled her Swanson flapper
down another flight of stairs.

But I never tie my hair up in bandanas like the 40s,
or slop around in workboots with a bucket
and a mop. And when her show’s over,
and it’s time for Carol to sing,
I can only listen; I can’t carry a tune. Ironic
when the name we share in French means joyous song.

PHOTO: Actress/comedian Carol Burnett.

Carol A. Stephen

Carol A. Stephen
is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at The Light Ekphrastic and in videos at Twice shortlisted,   in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow Jackets, Architectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a new collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, titled Breathing Mutable Air (2015). Visit her at

jackie kennedy
French. Kennedy. O.
by Jacalyn Carley

Named by
fate, chosen!, to
follow in her pumps
to wear fake pearls, meant

to share her
Camelot, serve
her dreams as all
Americans still dreamt.

In her image
I sewed A-lines,
savaged curls into
pageboys, hoped John-

John might later
overlook the difference
in our ages. Prince Charles
my other suitor, had the right age,

a good name and
stellar digs but didn’t
have the looks or the gait
and certainly not the mother.

O. Jackie. Oh, the
coif: mine! Oh, the yacht:
on order! Oh, the promises your
poise, your name still harbors. Je t’adore.

PHOTO: Jacqueline Kennedy, around 1962.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The prompt caught me unawares, I hadn’t thought about Jackie Kennedy and her profound influence on me (and many of my generation) for quite a while. And how proud I was to have the name of that First Lady! Encouraged and enamored, I wore my enormous braces and a bite-corrector in style, believing any girl with the right posture, perfect pastel dresses and the discipline to sleep every single night of the week on a head full of metal-brush curlers could – and would – become a Jackie Kennedy.


ANOTHER NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother wanted her first daughter to be named Jackie. The nurse told her that was not a real name, it would have to be formalized. The same nurse told her using Q’s and U’s was not American. The nurse proceeded to make up a name, and write JACALYN on the birth certificate (which did not change the course of name-giving in America, as was certainly intended). After a long flirtatious childhood spent with the name Jackie (during which time Jackie Kennedy appeared and brought Q’s and U’s and French flair to all Americans), I became a choreographer and changed my name to Jac. I now go by both Jac and Jacalyn, although there are people who insist on making my hair stand on end by calling out, “Good work, Jackie!” when I give a reading. Which explains why that Jackie O pageboy look no longer sits like it once did.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacalyn Carley is a writer and On-site Director for Sarah Lawrence College’s “Summer Arts in Berlin” study abroad program. She also donates time to refugee needs in Berlin.

In Pale November
by Marianne Szlyk

when I was Marianne Moore, wearing a black straw hat,
we wandered through the woods he knew too well.

Leafless trees clutched at the faded sky.
Stones and fallen branches littered the ground.

I listened to his youthful harangue
and watched for birds and plants she would have seen,

but it was long past time for even poison ivy
or bittersweet berries. So he and I drifted

until the early dark pooled at our feet
to freeze and trip us like the branches, stones,

and fallen leaves that always cling to pale November.
For years beginning with that month,

having lost my black straw hat
when we fled back to the city he knew too well,

I listened to his middle-aged litany and ignored
the leather-bound books she wove into her poetry,

following the sound of his voice
into and through the woods and out the other side

to the early darkness, the evergreen trees,
the stray cats, the bus stop signs like clenched fists,

to the long ride on empty buses
back to the city he and I knew all too well.

As I walk through Rock Creek Park in November
(no longer living in the city I once knew),

I count syllables the way she did
and try to remember his voice.

PHOTOS: (left) Poet Marianne Moore (1887-1972); (right) the author, poet Marianne Szlyk.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The famous person I am referring to is the poet Marianne Moore (who is infamous for always wearing a black, tricorne hat, quoting her research in her poems, and counting syllables). During my first marriage, I could have taken that name, and I suppose that I might as well have except that it was not done in the circles I ran in. In fact, I chose not to take my first husband’s name as I did not want to be Marianne Moore. I liked her poetry although at times I found that she wore her learning too heavily. I also preferred more personal poetry, like Robert Lowell’s, or less quirky poetry like Elizabeth Bishop’s. However, since I saw the SAME NAME prompt, I have realized that Ms. Moore is more of an influence than I thought, especially now that I write counted verse. Ironically, this poem is not counted verse although it is in couplets. I began it while walking through Rock Creek Park with my poetry group. Looking up at the weak November sun, I remembered the first time I walked in the woods with my then-boyfriend and later husband. My first draft, though, focused on the immediate moment, but as I continued to work on the poem, the past came to the forefront and the present mostly fell away. The couplets remained.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is…, an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review, and a professor of English at Montgomery College.  Herr second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, was published by Flutter Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Long Exposure, Front Porch Review, The Syzygn Poetry Journal, Cactifur, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Yellow Chair Review, Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, and Taj Mahal Review.Her first chapbook is available through Kind of a Hurricane Press. She hopes that you will consider sending work to her magazine. For more information, visit The Song Is blogzine.

by Jennifer Lagier

Jennifer Jones exuded piety,
visited a secret, sacred grotto,
innocently trysted with a higher power,
accepted prophetic messages
in the Song of Bernadette.

Despite decades of imposed Catholicism,
I never felt the gentle hand of god,
received angelic direction or was blessed
by preferment, descending grace.

Her role in Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,
resulted in award nominations.
Illicit passion ended with a broken heart,
bliss aborted, aftermath bittersweet.

Like my namesake,
I burned through marriages,
squandered opportunities,
watched myself wither
as empty years passed.

PHOTO: Jennifer Jones as Bernadette Soubirous in The Song of Bernadette (1943).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been intrigued by Jennifer Jones since seeing her in the two movies referenced in my poem. This submission call gave me an excuse to research her life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 10 books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Upwas just issued by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review,maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal, misfitmagazine and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her at

AUTHOR PHOTO: Jennifer Lagier and her dog, Stanley, in Cambria California. Taken by Oliver Fellguth.

Poem by Henry Denander

Henry Chesney Baker
and Henry Charles Bukowski;
if I had known about these guys when
I was young perhaps I would have liked
my own name better.
My name is OK now but I was never very
pleased with it when I was a kid.
At that time no one here in
Sweden knew about Chet or Buk
but now it’s good to be able to
tell people that both of them were
named Henry.
And no one needs to know that
Buk never liked Henry
but used Charles instead.


“Accept Your Name” and other poetry and prose by Henry Denander appear in the Silver Birch Press BUKOWSKI ANTHOLOGY, a collection of poetry & prose about Charles Bukowski — available at

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Henry Denander is a poet and artist who lives in Sweden. His latest book is The Accidental Navigator. Find him at

Cover art: Mark Erickson and Katy Zartl