Mudlark No. 24 (2004)

First Names by Michael Ruby


Michael Ruby is the author of AT AN INTERSECTION, published by Alef Books in New York at the end of 2002. His long poem “Wave Talk” was published early last year by syllogism in Berkeley, and another long poem, “Sic Fatur Lacrimans,” appeared last summer in e-zine Poethia. Other poems are appearing in Lost & Found Times in Columbus, Ohio, and in e-zines xStream, Aught, BlazeVOX, Big Bridge and La Petite Zine. He recently completed a short trilogy in prose and poetry on varieties of unconscious experience—“Dreams of the 1990s,” “Fleeting Memories” and “Inner Voices Heard Before Sleep.” And he is working on two new books of poetry, AMERICAN SONGBOOK, based on phrases from songs throughout the 20th century, and CLOSE YOUR EYES, descriptions of darkness. He lives in Brooklyn and works as a journalist.



MP3 Audio File Link Hear Michael Ruby read “First Names” here . . .
Running time: 31 minutes. File size: 14.7 megabytes.



First Names

Aaron is reasonable to a fault.
Abigail belies her name.
Abner drinks a dark beer in the clubhouse.
Abraham hasn’t lost his exuberance.
Ada is mentioned more often than seen.
Adam’s schemes fail to strike it rich.
Adele refuses to leap into a second marriage.
Adrienne underestimates her attractiveness.
Agnes is making friends with a little girl.
Alan faces a painful decision.
Albert is disappointed in his son.
Alexander uses his smile effectively.
Alexandra can’t escape from her father’s shadow.
Alfred never slows down.
Alice won’t take no for an answer.
Alison’s blonde hair reaches her behind.
Allen trusts his brothers.
Alva figures in a hit song.
Alvin kept smoking after his first heart attack.
Amanda’s cheeks turn pink in the cold.
Amelia is embarrassed of her brother.
Amy has no detractors.
Anatol still fancies he’s a novelist.
Andre meets rebukes with a smile.
Andrea was popular in junior high school.
Andrew sells computers.
Angela gets the most out of her employees.
Anna’s nieces call often.
Anne always bumps into friends on vacations.
Anthony lives three blocks from his parents.
April knows which way the wind blows.
Archibald uses a cane with a jade handle.
Arlene stays upstairs most of the time.
Armand had a long affair with an actress.
Arnold plays wiffle ball with his grandson.
Arthur attends AA meetings.
Audrey isn’t stupid.
Austin is careening through life.
Ava hung out for two years after college.
Barbara keeps an eye on her roommates.
Barney’s enthusiasm is contagious.
Barron is fixing up a farmhouse in Wisconsin.
Barry pretends he doesn’t see corruption.
Basil collects watches.
Beatrice is someone’s first love.
Belinda doesn’t waste time.
Bella buried three husbands.
Benjamin is bumming around Europe.
Bennett refuses to dip into his trust fund.
Bernard takes a nap every afternoon.
Bernice married wisely.
Bert is recovering from open heart surgery.
Bertha bustles around the kitchen.
Beryl hasn’t gained a pound since she was 13.
Beverly gets prettier and prettier.
Blair munches on tortilla chips.
Blaise is the tallest kid in class.
Blake drinks a glass of white wine at lunch.
Boris twirls his greying mustache.
Boyd is undefeated in sprints.
Bradford has finally found his true metier.
Brenda is pregnant again.
Brett’s wife has more freckles than he does.
Brewster devotes himself to human rights.
Brian is plagued by yearnings.
Bridget’s second marriage was a big mistake.
Brooke doesn’t know who has a crush on her.
Bruce buckled down earlier than his friends.
Bruno plans to remodel his basement.
Burgess owns a porno bookstore.
Burton sees a chiropractor every week.
Byron tells people to call him by his nickname.
Caleb’s unemployment checks ran out six months ago.
Calvin often forgets to take his cholesterol medication.
Candace enters the auditorium last.
Carl isn’t as radical as he thinks.
Carlos wants to move back to Florida.
Carmen is subletting from an asshole.
Carol can’t understand unfaithfulness.
Caroline plays down her last name.
Carolyn doesn’t have enough yet.
Carrie is sweet and ruthless.
Carter takes frequent spills on his motorcycle.
Casey has a drink for the road.
Caspar is easily swayed by hairbrained schemes.
Catherine makes her husband happy.
Cathleen looks up to her cousin.
Cedric doesn’t appreciate his nickname.
Celia is marrying a much older man.
Chad runs like a lefty.
Charlene refuses to bend the rules.
Charles hasn’t lost his spunkiness.
Charlotte wants to have more adventures.
Cheryl smiles with her eyes.
Chester has to shave twice a day.
Christian squints during the afternoon.
Christine basks in her unexpected success.
Christopher reapplies to medical school every year.
Clara is drifting apart from her sister.
Clare sticks with her husband to the end.
Clarence dropped dead in his mistress’s bed.
Clark doesn’t plan to shave his mustache after all.
Claude’s pastry shop is thriving.
Claudia remains skeptical.
Clayton wears a bow tie to the steeplechase.
Clement looks like Teddy Roosevelt.
Clifford can’t stomach his father’s shenanigans.
Clinton never backs down.
Clive drives a bus.
Clyde turns out to be reliable in a jam.
Colin is more easygoing than his brother.
Collene uses shampoo for oily hair.
Conrad hesitates before he shakes hands.
Constance hates her stepmother.
Cora takes care of her sister’s two daughters.
Corey can wear the green off a dollar bill.
Cornelia is taller than most men.
Cornelius has achieved most of his goals.
Craig’s father doesn’t pay attention to him.
Curtis sleeps until two in the afternoon.
Cynthia didn’t resign with her colleagues.
Dale plays with fire.
Damian comes and goes when he pleases.
Dana values stability above all.
Daniel has bad teeth.
Daphne leaves a trail of broken hearts.
Darlene chews sugarless gum in the background.
Darrell stopped growing in eighth grade.
David goes his own way.
Dawn isn’t appreciated at work.
Dean’s faults overshadow his good points.
Deborah worries about her health.
Della dropped out of sight for a while.
Denise waited a long time before marrying.
Dennis keeps plugging away.
Derek has been known to overstep the bounds.
Desmond breathes a sigh of relief when his father leaves.
Dexter fears his girlfriend wants his money.
Diana picked up an English accent somewhere.
Diane is fighting for her life on a respirator.
Dierdre never mentions the dreariness of her twenties.
Dinah disappears around chore time.
Dirk’s shift begins at 6 a.m.
Dominic is still giving haircuts at Philip’s.
Donald is sick of being teased.
Donna left home as soon as she could.
Dora married the son of a famous man.
Doris rules the practice tee.
Dorothy is checking out of a psychiatric hospital.
Douglas brags he "robbed the cradle."
Drew never lets up.
Duane only shaves a couple times a week.
Dudley sips a sherry after work.
Duncan remembers his friends’ favorite drinks.
Dwight can get as mad as a bull.
Dylan has his whole life in front of him.
Earl senses he’s starting to slip.
Edgar defers to his younger brother.
Edith is criticized unjustly.
Edmond talks fast and cackles.
Edna bounces back from the worst losses.
Edward doesn’t like doing the dirty work.
Edwin is relaxing his stance.
Eileen always wanted to be older.
Elaine has joie de vivre.
Eleanor moved a number of times after her divorce.
Eli takes care of everything.
Elise doesn’t know what to do with herself.
Elizabeth battles periodically with depression.
Ellen blows conflicts out of proportion.
Ellery owns a convertible.
Elliot keeps people at arms’ length.
Elmer takes his time.
Elroy doesn’t mess around.
Elsa is accumulating real estate.
Emil puts the fear of God into drunks.
Emily chooses to forgive.
Emma smiles her way through life.
Emmanuel is buying a condo in Arizona.
Emmet’s bulk hasn’t hurt his forehand.
Enid doesn’t say much.
Ephraim has a twitch in his shoulder.
Eric tries all the diets.
Erica can’t stand wearing glasses.
Erma was Sophie’s older sister.
Erna follows pro basketball.
Ernest bench-presses in his garage.
Errol lets a strand of hair hang over his forehead.
Estelle faces hardships with equanimity.
Esther enlarges in people’s memories.
Ethan wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Eva doesn’t want to live any longer.
Evan let his brother eulogize their grandfather.
Eve breaks off affairs suddenly.
Evelyn spends weekend nights at home with her husband.
Everett is flunking legal ethics.
Ezra doesn’t like doing one thing for too long.
Faith never forgets to floss.
Fay stopped envying her sister during middle age.
Felix keeps his distance from the other Nigerian students.
Ferdinand plans to shave off his goatee.
Fiona is surprisingly witty.
Flora brings out her husband’s sensuality.
Florence is still mourned after all these years.
Floyd lifted a car off a child once.
Forrest works at home in gym shorts.
Foster enjoys his notoriety.
Frances doesn’t make people very comfortable.
Francesca listens to her mother too often.
Francine has a boozy voice.
Francis is saving up to buy a camper van.
Franklin collects top hats.
Frederic is adjusting to adulthood too smoothly.
Frieda has a patch of eczema on her leg.
Fritz put up a brief fight.
Gabriel doesn’t plan to make sandwiches forever.
Gabrielle won’t disclose the investors in her business.
Gale follows in her sister’s footsteps.
Gary sticks behind his friends.
Genevieve is deliberately understated.
Geoffrey knows he’s a pain in the neck.
George has all kinds of plans.
Georgia thinks she can redeem her husband.
Gerald tries too hard.
Geraldine doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
Gerard weasels his way to the center.
Gertrude looks down on most of her relatives.
Gilbert doesn’t hear well.
Gillian takes pictures at graduations.
Gina dolls herself up.
Ginger isn’t fooled often.
Gladys never takes a sick day from work.
Glenn was a ladykiller in eighth grade.
Gloria cheats on her diet.
Golda changed her name to Gertrude.
Gordon is getting an Airedale for his kids.
Grace tells her parents what they want to hear.
Grant visits his aunt every summer.
Gregory has lost touch with all his college friends.
Greta arrives late and leaves early.
Gretchen has a bad temper.
Grover owns seven pairs of glasses.
Gunther is putting the finishing touches on his thesis.
Gustave lives with Muffin’s mother.
Guy services vending machines.
Gwendolyn reads anything she can get her hands on.
Hannah babysits for the neighbors’ twins.
Harriet means well.
Harris conceals his contempt most of the time.
Harold supports candidates to the right of Attila.
Harvey would faint if he heard his sons imitate him.
Hazel genuinely likes the old lady.
Heather starts out better off than she ends up.
Hector wears silly T-shirts.
Helen insists on keeping her distance.
Helena could be many women.
Helene knows boys are easy to seduce.
Helga wanders off into the woods.
Henrietta knows when to attack and when to retreat.
Henry could give lessons on being laid back.
Herbert is taking early retirement.
Herman laid a foundation for his descendants.
Hilda has her head in the clouds.
Hillary lives in Vermont.
Hiram watches his head in doorways.
Holly detests cigarette smoke.
Horace sponges off relatives.
Hope is moving to Florida.
Howard looks up to his father-in-law.
Hubert got too angry one day.
Hugh won’t deny he’s had advantages.
Hugo goes far out of his way for a bargain.
Humphrey has fat cheeks.
Hyman refuses to relax his grip.
Ian personifies responsibility.
Ida tells funny stories.
Ina can’t stop gaining weight.
Inez is drinking herself to death.
Ingrid has become a different person.
Ira talks a good game.
Irene is passive with men.
Irving chooses his words carefully.
Irwin reassures his patients.
Isaac listens to hairbrained schemes.
Isabel bosses people around.
Isidore takes forever to approve a sale.
Ivan is as earnest as his less considerate sister.
Jackson takes advantage of friends.
Jacob acts reasonable, but won’t bend an inch.
Jacqueline is moving to a richer neighborhood.
James wants people to think everything’s going great.
Jan digs in and doesn’t let go.
Jane doesn’t season her cooking enough.
Janet thinks she has a lump on her breast.
Janice can’t get enough sex.
Janine wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Jasmine has a little girl’s high voice.
Jason still hangs out in Berkeley.
Jasper sticks with a winning combination.
Jay holes up with his hometown girlfriend.
Jean alternately rebels and conforms.
Jeb takes curves too fast.
Jeffrey frequently returns to the scene of the crime.
Jennifer falls in love every few weeks.
Jeremy hasn’t made a big decision.
Jerome talks fast.
Jesse has been deserted by his first followers.
Jill lacks the initiative to quit her deadbeat job.
Joan yearns to be debased.
Joanne talks behind friends’ backs.
Jocelyn is marrying a Dutchman.
Jody works at a jewelry store.
Joel still won’t give his sister the time of day.
John is called “the nut” at his office.
Jonas is entering grad school when he returns from England.
Jonathan refuses to let setbacks get him down.
Jordan does tai-chi on the roof of his apartment building.
Jose’s eyes are unforgettable.
Joseph can talk his way out of anything.
Josephine wears her hair in a bun.
Joshua insists he’s a man now.
Joy eats the icing and leaves the cake.
Joyce smokes two packs a day.
Judd laughs much of the time.
Judith continues to be full of energy.
Julia would rather pity herself than change.
Julian is often taken for his brother.
Juliet henpecks her husband.
June is conscientious to a fault.
Justin decks people who give him lip.
Karen made some unwise decisions in her late teens.
Kate keeps everything in perfect order.
Kathryn describes herself as “forthright and devious.”
Keith still doesn’t understand why Harvard rejected him.
Kelly lowered her sights at the right time.
Kelvin warms his hands by a fire in a trash can.
Kenneth is being groomed to run the family business.
Kent insists on the importance of principles.
Kermit works the graveyard shift.
Kerry threw her sister’s boyfriend for a loop.
Kevin has a few beers with his high school buddies.
Kim is hardening.
Kimberly can’t come.
Kirk installs solar panels on rooftops.
Kit is married to a woman twice his age.
Kristin enjoys being engaged.
Kurt reads Husserl on a dirty coverlet.
Lamar doesn’t look people in the eye anymore.
Lana moved often during childhood.
Lance owns four snowmobiles.
Laura visits France twice a year.
Lauren is careless about birth control.
Laurence throws back every fish he catches.
Laurie dropped out of college.
Laverne smokes two packs a day.
Leah doesn’t know what she wants to do.
Lee is paying his dues in Singapore.
Lee represses the truth about her family.
Leilah is married to her cousin.
Lena has the fingers of a pianist.
Lenora’s boyfriend is serving time for armed robbery.
Leo practiced medicine until he dropped dead.
Leon takes things in stride.
Leonard debases women and dumps them.
Leopold conceals his lisp most of the time.
Leroy wears sweatbands.
Leslie has reservations about his son-in-law.
Leslie dumped the guy she should have married.
Lester has no patience with his philistine relatives.
Lewis is going to lose out in a power struggle.
Lilah won’t take no for an answer.
Lillian is still squeamish about injecting herself with insulin.
Lily makes people uneasy at first.
Lincoln has put to rest all doubts about him.
Linda broke a country singer’s heart.
Lindsay remains happy-go-lucky.
Lionel takes long walks in the country.
Lisa is studying to be a speech therapist.
Lloyd harasses bicyclists.
Lois can’t stifle her unhappiness.
Lorraine forgets to close doors.
Lorretta doesn’t follow her boss’s instructions.
Louis has a crush on a 16-year-old.
Louisa never recovered from an early loss.
Louise is engaged to a younger man.
Lowell inspects his bald spot with two mirrors.
Lucas hasn’t been recognized sufficiently.
Lucille worries about her sons’ indecisiveness.
Lucy is trying to get pregnant.
Luke appears frequently in his father’s books.
Lydia prides herself on being late.
Lyle doesn’t listen to his wife.
Lynn’s apartment faces north.
Mac made one bad move.
Madeline can’t conceal her attractiveness.
Malcolm has a retarded younger brother.
Marc is still wet behind the ears.
Marcia is a fair-weather friend.
Marcy knows her worth.
Margaret places her children above her career.
Margery plays the field.
Margot blames her father for the divorce.
Mark can’t abide people who lack passion.
Maria keeps things to herself.
Marianne raises one eyebrow archly.
Marie decided not to move out west.
Marilyn isn’t making it as a model.
Marleen drives a Cadillac.
Marshall likes Gulf shrimp and big cigars.
Martha has bad luck with men.
Martin makes exotic kites.
Marvin chooses to be a silent partner.
Mary can’t adjust to city life.
Mathilda takes pride in her handwriting.
Maude has softened.
Maura wants to make a splash.
Maureen isn’t impressed by talk.
Max spends more time away from his wife.
Maxine is developing a weight problem.
May serves tea to her mother’s friends.
Megan winds up with an older man.
Melanie enjoys meeting people she doesn’t know.
Melinda’s husband committed suicide.
Melissa is everyone’s best friend.
Melvin always wears an undershirt.
Meredith has a knack for making money.
Michael wanders around with a clipboard.
Mildred was freed by her husband’s death.
Miles still limps from a broken leg.
Milton hasn’t lost a step.
Minna slaves from dawn to midnight.
Miranda doesn’t know what she wants.
Miriam has perfect posture.
Mitchell wears sneakers with a three-piece suit.
Molly changed careers twice.
Mona dotes on her huskies.
Monica plaits her hair in a thick braid.
Monroe fears premature death.
Monte revives the party.
Morgan looks good with his shirt off.
Morgan isn’t supervised by her parents.
Morris holds the family together.
Mortimer prevails in arguments.
Morton bums cigarettes off his friends.
Muriel teaches piano.
Murray chooses to bring up the rear.
Myra doesn’t think of herself as thin-skinned.
Myron smiles despite his bad luck.
Nancy is hypercritical.
Naomi has a high opinion of herself.
Natalie is accident-prone.
Nathan continues to perplex people.
Nathaniel keeps his thoughts to himself.
Neal is disintegrating.
Ned makes the best moves he can.
Nellie takes care of her older sister.
Nelson has his own views about what’s going to happen.
Nicholas likes being photographed.
Nina could go several ways.
Noah will break many hearts in his day.
Noel is fixing up an attic bedroom for his father.
Nolan is an Olympian in archery.
Nora worked into her eighties.
Norma is buying new furniture again.
Norman wonders what happened to his childhood friends.
Norton has a collection of vests.
Octavia’s whereabouts are a secret.
Ogden plans to return to London after business school.
Olga waits with her arms folded.
Olive prefers to remain in the shadows.
Oliver has severed almost all ties with the cult.
Olivia still has a lot to learn.
Omar shaves his head.
Orville is selling the family optometry shop.
Oscar’s temper gets him in big trouble.
Otis claims he only went along for the ride.
Otto never shares the credit.
Owen is forced to make a sacrifice.
Paige makes the most of things.
Pamela is dependable except when she drinks.
Pansy isn’t as tall as her sisters.
Patricia sells herself short.
Patrick knows he’s low-key.
Paul scales back more than necessary.
Paula daydreams about sex.
Pauline comes out the door first.
Pearl takes care of her mother.
Penelope wraps herself in furs.
Penny never knew her father.
Percy calls whenever he’s going to be late.
Perry is reputed to be a Romeo.
Peter sets tasks for himself and carries them out.
Philip is overcoming a speech impairment.
Philomena sang professionally for a few years.
Phoebe’s parents are rich.
Phyllis worked as a police lady at a school crossing.
Polly spots the lion at a party.
Preston is turning out to be a perfect second husband.
Priscilla’s period never became regular.
Prudence is surprisingly offbeat.
Quentin loves someone who’s never given him a thought.
Quincy keeps his cool.
Rachel gives people the benefit of the doubt.
Ralph isn’t the most organized person in the world.
Randall rejects the ground rules.
Randolph has perfect posture.
Raymond raises attack dogs.
Rebeccah outshines her three sisters.
Reece shouldn’t be trusted for long.
Reed wants his second wife to be a soprano.
Regina’s pride is indestructible.
Reginald wears pants with too big a waist.
Renee looks down on her parents.
Reuben informs on other tenants.
Rex is barely hanging on to his girlfriend.
Rhea wishes she were more attractive.
Rhoda was the first to mature.
Richard still blows up every so often.
Riley drives with the radio blasting.
Rita gets pimples on her chin.
Robert is beginning to be noticed.
Roberta doesn’t believe in vacations.
Robin is alternately tiresome and endearing.
Robin has something to prove to her teachers.
Rodney trims his red beard carefully.
Roger is running for State Assembly.
Roland is being supported by his grandfather.
Rolf studies accounting at night.
Rollo jump-starts stalled cars.
Ronald practices sports medicine in the suburbs.
Rory carries a bottomless briefcase.
Rosa helps her father dress.
Rosalind reads fat novels.
Roscoe steers clear of conflicts.
Rose hasn’t had a boyfriend yet.
Rosemary is returning to New Zealand.
Ross stays out of trouble by running a plant store.
Roy waits in a doorway.
Ruby refuses to take shit from people.
Rudolph has learned his lesson.
Rupert thinks he’s frank.
Russell doesn’t get enough sleep.
Ruth claims she’s “still kicking around.”
Ryan waterskies every summer.
Sabina walks home along a dirt road.
Sadie leans on her granddaughter.
Sally is sui generis.
Samantha refuses to accept defeat.
Samuel gave his wife everything when she left.
Sandra dotes on her little brothers.
Sanford can work under pressure.
Sara is always there.
Saul’s past is too wild to believe.
Scott talks people into buying things.
Seamus looks good in comparison with his brother.
Sean terrorized the neighborhood as a kid.
Sebastian has left the beaten track.
Selma retired last fall.
Seth’s parents are high-powered.
Seymour plays to win.
Sharon writes phone numbers on her arm.
Sheila is breaking up with her psychotic boyfriend.
Sheldon dines with a prima ballerina.
Shelly falls for sweet talk.
Sherman has the makings of a fall guy.
Shirley looks out the window as she washes the dishes.
Sibyl is tall and grey.
Sidney regrets he retired so young.
Silvester only buys from wholesalers.
Silvia disappears for long periods.
Simon gives good advice.
Sisley wants only the best.
Solomon is finally successful late in life.
Sonya relishes pulling out her checkbook.
Sophie collects little gifts for children.
Spencer tries to seem mysterious.
Stacey loses herself in research projects.
Stanley drops by his married daughter’s house.
Stella makes a guest appearance.
Stephanie was a little girl not so long ago.
Stephen is making steady progress.
Sterling hasn’t fully recovered from a head injury.
Stuart leaves his ties and belts at motels.
Susan finally left the Midwest.
Susannah listens patiently.
Suzanne settles down in her hometown.
Sydney wears black lipstick and bowler hats.
Tad is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Tamara’s parents fill her friends with envy.
Tara isn’t afraid of competing with boys.
Taylor mimicks people perfectly.
Terrence isn’t getting better.
Thelma has lung cancer.
Theodore doesn’t rush to conclusions.
Theresa can talk forever.
Thomas turns shortness into an advantage.
Tiffany is still meeting few people who interest her.
Timothy hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
Todd does what he has to do.
Tracy is driving his wife to suicide.
Tracy attracts a crowd of male admirers.
Travis likes to think he’s just passing through.
Tucker stays in touch.
Tyrone straddles two worlds.
Ursula approaches people from an unexpected angle.
Valery used to be skinny.
Vance is the first pick in sports.
Vanessa has a withering glance.
Vera is slipping out of people’s minds.
Vergil collects musical instruments.
Vernon only talks with his friends.
Veronica makes men come too soon.
Victor hosts a radio program under an assumed name.
Vincent keeps coming back for more.
Violet blazes her own trail.
Virginia says what’s on her mind.
Vito plays pranks on people.
Vivien makes her moves methodically.
Vladimir learns English from TV.
Wade winks across the room.
Waldo strokes his beard before he speaks.
Walker donates his wealth to charity.
Wallace is making a killing.
Walter makes the necessary calculations.
Wanda wins people over to her.
Ward can turn on a dime.
Warren takes canoe trips on weekends.
Wayne prides himself on his twang.
Wendell ejaculates prematurely.
Wendy moves restlessly from city to city.
Wesley sticks to the beaten path.
Wilbur thinks he’s a gentleman of the old school.
Wilfred is becoming a recluse.
Wilhelmina practices the piano every day.
Willa rides a horse into the yard.
Willard listens carefully to people.
William puts the best face on things.
Wilma knits in a rocking chair.
Winston doesn’t forgive.
Woodrow has almost laid to rest the doubts about him.
Wyatt doesn’t give a damn anymore.
Yvonne is too good to last.
Zachary never got a single break in life.
Zelda doesn’t bely her name.
Zoe has her head in the clouds.


Copyright © Mudlark 2004
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