Once upon a time at the corner
there was a man loudly explaining
how to change your weight by changing your name.
Look at me, he says, I once weighed 438 pounds
as John Quinones, changed my name to Remarkable Jones
and became a 260 pound tiger of svelte grace.
I changed my name at his suggestion
to Natasha Revolver and ballooned to 3,438 tons.
I developed a gravitational pull of my own that worked
in concert with that of the Earth and began to levitate
quite pleasantly three feet off the ground. Reverting
to my birth name gently grounded me again.
The trick according to Remarkable Jones
was to never keep one name for too long
once you’ve learned the process. Shift constantly
between identifiers and you’ll never get pinned down
or rise too far above where you want to be.
So I dug the advice and dug the doing for a long time.
Gained as John Smith, reduced as Almond McGillicuddy.
Shrank as Penny, grew as Penelope, swelled to substance
as Monster Don, slipped into feigned normalcy
as Smoky Face Butts Patel, DiRienzo Delmonico. Sometimes
I just went with titles: the lightness of being Mister,
the unbearable lightness of being Hey You. The gravity
of Your Honor, the unbearable honor of being Reverend,
Officer, Boss. Honey raised my toes ten feet off the dirt,
Asshole sunk them pointedly six feet under. If I took
a name I was given, a title, a slur? How I tossed
and rolled and laid about based on the massive potential
of those words I did not myself own, how difficult it became
to find a name that gave me back to my self at a size
I could work with, huge or small,
offering whatever peace I most desired. It all became so much
that I ran one day, shedding names as I ran, all the way to the corner
where the man sat waiting as if he knew I was coming.
I knew you’d come, he said.
The truer trick according to Remarkable John Quinones Jones
was to find a name that you could completely own,
no matter how long, no matter how many syllables
it required, no matter how hard it was for someone else
to pronounce — in fact, that might be your best tell
that you’ve found the Right Name with the Right Weight —
that no one can dismiss it by saying it wrong,
that only you can teach its correct sound. If you find that,
you will forever outweigh whatever name they try to hang upon you
no matter how big or small you become…
oh, he was right. How right he was.
I say it out loud when I’m by myself at night,
and I fill the whole damn sky.