Name by Mir Yashar Seyedbagheri


I slink through stores
and the narrowest of country roads
my name butchered and battered
carried upon my back
they ask from whence it comes
in starched smiling tones

but what do they mean?

sometimes, I proclaim myself tsar
an imperial majesty to my name
and I imagine the questioners genuflecting
each bow graceful and easy
while Tchaikovsky booms with bombast
over vast marbled floors

they say they’re just curious
it’s so exotic, a name they’ve never heard
am I an Arab? A Greek? An Israeli?
I smile while they guess and try to look beneath their words
is there a grimace there, while they butcher it again?
or am I just imagining?

Of course, they blow up and shoot tsars
but I just want to hold onto that word for a night
or two
tsar, a sharp edge
and speak not of questions or laws, but of edicts, orders
striding not slinking, a beatific smile rising from neat-trimmed beard

I want to speak that word one last time
before I slink down another country road
questioners battering my name

I want to waltz one last waltz
before my back breaks

by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

Editor’s Note: The “exotic” name in this narrative poem is an excellent metaphor for racism, highlighting the inescapable frustration and emotional burden the speaker feels.


3 responses to “Name by Mir Yashar Seyedbagheri”

  1. Dave Williams Avatar
    Dave Williams

    A beautiful appearing name put to high purpose in the poem. I’ll admit I can’t pronounce it, still, famous quotations not withstanding, much is in a name, as you more than amply demonstrate for modern times.

  2. richardsund Avatar

    A good poem, but sometimes people ask with no rancor meant.My last name is Sund, a common scandinavian name.I am often asked if I am asian ( ” sun “) – I also have to spell my name,plus it has a terse sound to it. So, I suppose I would innocently ask about your name. There is such a thing as wondering ,but I bet you are asked very, very often.😎

  3. Nancy Smiler Levinson Avatar
    Nancy Smiler Levinson

    I rarely take the time to post comments, but I like this poem ever so much. It sets my mind off in many
    paths of thought. My last name is Levinson, and often people of different religious or cultural backgrounds
    hear what is familiar to them; hence I’ll hear on the phone or see written on a receipt the name: Livingston.

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