Free Verse Poetry

A Most Unusual Name

Her name was Jenny or Julie
or Debbie or Lee
—something—
I can’t quite recall
but it was common as sin
around the council estate
she had grown up in
and hated
’cause every cheap brick
was exactly the same shade
of dull concrete grey
Forced to leap flooded drains
each time it rained
Yet barely a trickle
ran from the mains

when you needed a drink, or to piss

Of course, school was no haven
—from a stepfather’s beatings
and an absentee mother’s
gambling addiction—
with its chain link fence, rusted
and daily humiliation
by both students and teachers
who didn’t appreciate
Lee’s truancy rate
or understand why
she always came to class late,
rarely ate in the canteen
with the other grey teens

and failed even the easiest things

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Lets-call-her-Lee had long dreamed
of escaping;
of changing her name
and taking a Greyhound
to someplace deemed safe

Though no such place sprang to mind

She’d never dated, at almost sixteen,
so could hardly believe it
when Jim asked to see her
despite years of teasing—
she’d thought him quite mean
until, somewhere between
melting ice-cream and bedroom,
he started to kiss her

which caused her young heart to race

Lee didn’t love him,
but since his fingers felt nice
and she craved
the attention, she caved

when he grunted “I need…”

Jim disappeared soon after
the deed was complete
The infant, resulting
he never did meet
Kicked out on the street
while expecting and still underage,
Lee was allotted a hovel
of bricks, by the State
in the same boring grey
she’d be seeing each day

for the rest of her natural life

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In an effort to spare him
an anonymous fate,
she gave her first babe
an unpronounceable name—
a string of six syllables
hyphenated in the middle

with an accent mark over the “Γ¦”

Being somewhat shrewder
than her ad hoc schooling
would indicate,
Lee knew a name so unique
would demand she explain
her unusual choice
to curious folk, confused
about why she refused

to shorten it in any way

Strangely, her theory proved true
Conversations ensued
each time Junior was introduced
At long last, Lee Something
shone like a star
on a landscape of grey
when neighbours stopped to ask:

“Sorry, luv— how’d ye say it, again?”

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