By Nate Marshall
we’re trying to eliminate the shack.
— Kristen Pierce, Harold’s CEO & daughter of founder Harold Pierce
when i went to summer camp the white kids had a tendency
to shorten names of important institutions. make Northwestern
University into NU. international relations into IR. everybody
started calling me Nate. before this i imagined myself
Nathaniel A. maybe even N. Armstead to big up my granddad.
i wrote my whole name on everything. eventually i started
unintentionally introducing myself as Nate. it never occurred
to me that they could escape the knowing of my name’s
real length. as a shorty
most the kids in my neighborhood couldn’t say my name.
Mick-daniel, Nick-thaniel, MacDonnel shot across the courts
like wild heaves toward the basket. the subconscious visual
of a chicken shack seems a poor fit for national expansion.
Harold’s Chicken is easier, sounds like Columbus’s flag stuck
into a cup of cole slaw. shack sounds too much like home
of poor people, like haven for weary
The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.
This poem is from Wild Hundreds by Nate Marshall, © 2015, reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: Poetry (December 2015)
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