I often see him restlessly seated
on a padded chair
in the maternity ward waiting room;
A man of Jewish descent,
rogue in ways; salty
tough ex-marine with wet,
splintered toothpick loosely hanging
from the left side of his mouth.
Father’s approaching him
in black with white-collar,
a certificate with blank spaces
in one hand.
“Jack Lawrence” Father says.
“Yes”, states the tall strong marine,
fresh tattoo’s visible
on buff right and left biceps.
“Your wife just gave birth
to a son, congratulations”
Jack’s eyes gleam proud
as he shakes Father’s hand.
Father says “Have you thought of a name?”
Jack says, “well, I have one in mind,
I like to keep a theme
(“I like to gamble” he thinks to himself)
I thought I might call him
Priest’s face flinches
while searching for words
and some composure to
change Jack’s mind.
Priest speaks respectfully;
“Well, in all seriousness
“Jack, this is your son.
That is some name to live with.”
Jack looks down, Father speaks again;
“Jack, Las Vegas
is nicked named Sin City,
Ace, represents a hierarchy
of Tarot cards.
Are these really the names
you wish to give your boy?
Can you think on this for a bit?
I can come back in a few minutes.”
Was hard for Jack to let go.
He loved to write;
Themes for names were important —
He really loved gambling as sport.
He never saw wrong in it;
Craps in the narrow Brooklyn streets as a child,
Poker in a basement before work,
trips to bet on the ponies when in season.
He named his last boy “Brandon Kent” after cigarette brands.
He thinks some more.
The angst on his face turns light.
Father returns and says, “well Jack,
did you think about it?”
Jack; “I thought maybe,
if I go up a city and down a card
that might work better.
I like the way It sounds;
Reno King Lawrence.”
Father’s footsteps fade,
Birth Certificate blanks filled in.
Jack sits down proudly, relieved —
He just solved the challenge in his theme.
The picture of Jack interacting
with Father became vivid
as dad told that story several
times as I was growing up.
Seems, a name says more
about those who give them;
The name that goes before us
and follows us close behind;
define as a yell
burn with familiarity
through heaps of white noise,
and that which we really are
turns and gives response.