First Name, Last Name

If I ring up one more guest
and they mispronounce my first name

by not implementing the “uh”

and then the silent “L,”

I will

continue to smile
and ring up the next guest
because I can’t afford to lose
the only job I have
even though my name is apparently
to Nancy and friends,

and not worth asking

how to properly pronounce

by that one

obnoxious black woman,

who I obviously forgive,

but dang Sis,


This is why I was apprehensive
when inquiries arose about my name again
from four separate Ethiopians,
who mistook my name and my looks
as their own.
I assured them it was possible,
but colonialism makes this info unknown.

Truly flattering it was though
it warmed my heart to belong so
I told My Forever And All,
who may or may not have close ties to Senegal,

but we will never know
since our grand ancestors grew up the United
we grew up in,

and she thought it cool too.
I thought it ironic
that the one country in Africa
I may or may not belong to
was never officially colonized

ran into a coworker
when clocking out of our slave shift,
and he noticed we had the same last name,
and we both initially thought it funny
that our ancestors may or may not
have had the same slave owners.

On second thought,
we gazed at each other,
at our inevitable misfortune
seeped in Afro-Pessimism
and shackles that could never
truly be unchained from our brains—
we only truly own our first name,
and it was even chosen for us
down the “Name” aisle by our mothers,

but it’s the only name
that seems to be worth fighting for
because it’s still mine enough to fight for in a lifetime
when we have nothing left to fight for,
but our first names


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