This poem takes a playful look at living under an alias, of reinventing yourself and finding a way to separate your present from your past.
He took my name and promised to get back to me.
He didn’t, of course, and I wondered what he did with it?
Losing my name meant I had to choose another,
which wasn’t easy when I’d lived with it for forty years –
Bill Sykes, always a joke at school but I never knew why,
preferred to laugh at the girl called Gillian Uren,
which she pronounced with emphasis on the en;
her dad was the organist on the end of Southend pier,
the longest pier in Britain. His name appeared
each summer on the end-of-the-pier posters.
I imagined him day-by-day travelling to work
on the little tourist train. You couldn’t make it up.
I’d never liked ‘Bill’, so I chose Julian, and I fancied
a double-barrelled surname – settled on Pierrepoint-Jones,
a nice ring I thought for my new career. I’d like to thank
that man who took my name, I hope it brings him
better luck than I had, though I fear he may be charged
with all my previous hangable offences.
Marilyn Longstaff lives in Darlington and is a member of Vane Women (www.vanewomen.co.uk). Her third poetry book, Raiment was selected by New Writing North’s Read Regional in 2012. Her last collection, Articles of War was published by Smokestack books in February 2017 and her new pamphlet, ‘The Museum of Spare Parts’ is published by Mudfog Press in June 2018.