What is In A Name?

by Alain Ginsberg


What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
And what makes a rose but petals and a stem?
Water to make it grow or water to make it die,
to drown or dehydrate is the same by any other name
and no one asks what a rose’s parents would say if they
chose to be a lily or peony or hydrangea and death by any name
is still finality or the beginning of something entirely new
and I hope at my funeral no one asks if my parents meant for this
when I do not know if they even meant to make the mess
that I blossomed into, and what makes a rose but petals and a stem?
Thorns and I do so forget about violence until my blood is out
again and I am trying my best not to see myself as a heap but
what are pressed flowers but piles of dead things left unnamed.

I am asked equally if my name is real and if my name is mine,
how stolen this body must be for me to damage it,
how must I own my name until it lives here.
Before we had language I made the definitions
spell themselves like constellations, and is this not creation?
Orion’s belt of course is forgotten at home while the galaxy pulls it’s denim
by the belt loop and there are and are not several more planets to see past myself
and Several by any other name could be couple or few or paired but Several
to my language has always been seven and is this not too creation,
a blossoming of a flower, death a flower with water, opening eyes at morning
and seeing birth by waking.

I say I had a dead name and not a grave to show for it.
I say I have a dead name and there is nothing telling it
to rest in peace although it is trying and I still feel
like I misnamed the definition of it’s voice when I say
the name into the universe, still know that it too is to much
for my mouth to hold and my bones to carry and I still do carry it.
I say my body was once a boys and I’m carving it to fit my shape,
my round peg body softening the angles,
say a boy once lived here and moved out when he died,
how it was cruel to even give these conditions to someone like that,
how I am making the best of this lack of stability, no foundation.
The big dipper by any other name is Alain, or Logan,
Johanna or Joanne and I know the noise is just too loud to hear
and I say I have a dead name and no one asks how long
it has been buried but my toes are still cold and I still mistake
a dictionary for a god and know I am at best a creation myth
but a rose by any other name might smell just as sweet
and what is in a name but an idea, and what is in a body
but a voice to carry thorns and petals, a stem, and
a name by any other name would still be mine if it were to be the case.

Most poisonous flowers were only discovered to be this way
after being consumed in excess, without regard for it’s other names
that are my names too and my parents might not have thought about
that but what is a parent but the morning sun? Something to
start the day by breaking open the night an egg and running the
yolk through the windows and is that life or death? To break an egg
by any name is to honor life and death, to grow a field of flowers
meant to poison until the petals fall, and the stems wilt, and the pollen
has been transported, is to find my body in the soil, and to find my name
under your tongue, as you eat the seeds that reap life, while only sowing death.
Press my name between the pages of a dictionary, and when you open
there will only be flowers.