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

like building our own.                                        
Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • This poem is from Wild Hundreds by Nate Marshall, © 2015, reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I went in expecting to lend my voice to the poetry, but found that it was a two-way exchange: the poetry lent its voice to me, as well."
Megan Kim
2017 OR POL Champion