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he said in my native
language he said in my Zulu
language your name means home
take residence in your name

she said it's what we say to parrots
like pollywannacracker and
Amni said it means coconut jam

or firehouse or ganja or according
to my father dirtyrottenfish
and people say I know
a dog named your name

Gertrude Stein said poetry
is nouns like saying the name
of the one you love
over and over

we say names so people
turn to us and then
we are hundreds
of names we are stutters
of names a reverie

I can make a house like a poem
words are nothing but poems
but I can't pay rent with a name

sometimes words altogether
are rhetoric and sometimes
that pays the rent
but I'm tired of anomalies

what are role models
but anomalies
he's such a good role
model because he's
the exception he left
his neighborhood he made
good to be an exception
means everyone else is left
in the neighborhood

this role model
business is tiresome
we say his name and all
his fortune and hurrah
to his compromises or promises

to a community that is many roles
many names this stammering

This poem appears in the 2003 Anthology
View all poems by Kaia Sand