Names by David Spicer

Tuffy hates his real name: Vilas Hocksnot.

How could parents name a child that? It’s like naming

him Adolf Hitler, that insidious devil. In grade school

kids brand him Vile Ass Fuckshit. He feels like

a two-legged obscenity. He vows to change his name

when he turns eighteen. He obsesses for years

and settles on Douglas Samuel: two first

names or two last names together—take your pick.

Not a one and one, like Vilas Hocksnot or Adolf Hitler.

Nothing definitive. Just another Joe Blow punching

his time card at the bottle factory,

where he stacks boxes of bottles on pallets

to the gripes of the barrel-bellied foreman,

Dick Head. Son, you’re slower than a bad fuck

who thinks he’s good. Good fuck’s worked there

ten years. He’s bored with his legal name and invents

his new one, Tuffy Balboa III, for his friends. Two:

Miranda Moffett and Harry Sears. Tuffy vows them

to secrecy. It’s an honor for you to know my true

name, he explains in ignorant arrogance.

Feels it’s silly, but life’s silly, he knows.

Doesn’t tell his wife, Bev. She wouldn’t get it.

Miranda and Harry do: underneath that scarred

face and Spock eyebrows is a panda bear.

They like the irony. He’s a walking irony,

Tuffy Balboa III, he is.


David Spicer has, in pursuit of the word, worked as a paper boy, dishwasher, bottle loader, record warehouser, carpet dragger, burger flopper, ditch digger, weather observer, furniture mover, Manpower flunky, gas pumper, bookseller, tutor, 11th and 12th grader babysitter, magazine and book editor and publisher, typesetter, proofreader, and librarian’s assistant. He has had poems published in The American Poetry Review, Poetry Now, Ploughshares, Yellow Mama, Yellow Chair Review, Slim Volume, riverbabble, and elsewhere. He is the author of collection, Everybody Has a Story, four chapbooks, and eight unpublished manuscripts. He is the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.

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