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 experienceDreams 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.
Hear Michael Ruby read First Names from Aaron to Zoe here, 31 minutes.
Hear him read a clip of it from Ursula to Zoe here, 2 minutes.
Aaron is reasonable to a fault.
Abigail belies her name.
Abner drinks a dark beer in the clubhouse.
Abraham hasnt lost his exuberance.
Ada is mentioned more often than seen.
Adams 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 cant escape from her fathers shadow.
Alfred never slows down.
Alice wont take no for an answer.
Alisons blonde hair reaches her behind.
Allen trusts his brothers.
Alva figures in a hit song.
Alvin kept smoking after his first heart attack.
Amandas cheeks turn pink in the cold.
Amelia is embarrassed of her brother.
Amy has no detractors.
Anatol still fancies hes 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.
Annas 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 isnt stupid.
Austin is careening through life.
Ava hung out for two years after college.
Barbara keeps an eye on her roommates.
Barneys enthusiasm is contagious.
Barron is fixing up a farmhouse in Wisconsin.
Barry pretends he doesnt see corruption.
Basil collects watches.
Beatrice is someones first love.
Belinda doesnt 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 hasnt 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.
Bretts wife has more freckles than he does.
Brewster devotes himself to human rights.
Brian is plagued by yearnings.
Bridgets second marriage was a big mistake.
Brooke doesnt 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.
Calebs unemployment checks ran out six months ago.
Calvin often forgets to take his cholesterol medication.
Candace enters the auditorium last.
Carl isnt as radical as he thinks.
Carlos wants to move back to Florida.
Carmen is subletting from an asshole.
Carol cant understand unfaithfulness.
Caroline plays down her last name.
Carolyn doesnt 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 doesnt appreciate his nickname.
Celia is marrying a much older man.
Chad runs like a lefty.
Charlene refuses to bend the rules.
Charles hasnt 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 mistresss bed.
Clark doesnt plan to shave his mustache after all.
Claudes pastry shop is thriving.
Claudia remains skeptical.
Clayton wears a bow tie to the steeplechase.
Clement looks like Teddy Roosevelt.
Clifford cant stomach his fathers 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 sisters two daughters.
Corey can wear the green off a dollar bill.
Cornelia is taller than most men.
Cornelius has achieved most of his goals.
Craigs father doesnt pay attention to him.
Curtis sleeps until two in the afternoon.
Cynthia didnt 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 isnt appreciated at work.
Deans 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.
Dirks shift begins at 6 a.m.
Dominic is still giving haircuts at Philips.
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 hes 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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.
Emmets bulk hasnt hurt his forehand.
Enid doesnt say much.
Ephraim has a twitch in his shoulder.
Eric tries all the diets.
Erica cant stand wearing glasses.
Erma was Sophies 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 peoples memories.
Ethan wouldnt hurt a fly.
Eva doesnt 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 doesnt 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 husbands 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 doesnt 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 doesnt plan to make sandwiches forever.
Gabrielle wont disclose the investors in her business.
Gale follows in her sisters footsteps.
Gary sticks behind his friends.
Genevieve is deliberately understated.
Geoffrey knows hes a pain in the neck.
George has all kinds of plans.
Georgia thinks she can redeem her husband.
Gerald tries too hard.
Geraldine doesnt hold up under scrutiny.
Gerard weasels his way to the center.
Gertrude looks down on most of her relatives.
Gilbert doesnt hear well.
Gillian takes pictures at graduations.
Gina dolls herself up.
Ginger isnt 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 Muffins 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 wont deny hes 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 cant 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 wont bend an inch.
Jacqueline is moving to a richer neighborhood.
James wants people to think everythings going great.
Jan digs in and doesnt let go.
Jane doesnt season her cooking enough.
Janet thinks she has a lump on her breast.
Janice cant get enough sex.
Janine wouldnt hurt a fly.
Jasmine has a little girls 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 hasnt 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 wont 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.
Joses eyes are unforgettable.
Joseph can talk his way out of anything.
Josephine wears her hair in a bun.
Joshua insists hes 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 doesnt 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 sisters boyfriend for a loop.
Kevin has a few beers with his high school buddies.
Kim is hardening.
Kimberly cant 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 doesnt 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 doesnt 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.
Lenoras 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 wont 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 singers 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 cant stifle her unhappiness.
Lorraine forgets to close doors.
Lorretta doesnt follow her bosss 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 hasnt been recognized sufficiently.
Lucille worries about her sons indecisiveness.
Lucy is trying to get pregnant.
Luke appears frequently in his fathers books.
Lydia prides herself on being late.
Lyle doesnt listen to his wife.
Lynns apartment faces north.
Mac made one bad move.
Madeline cant 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 cant abide people who lack passion.
Maria keeps things to herself.
Marianne raises one eyebrow archly.
Marie decided not to move out west.
Marilyn isnt 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 cant adjust to city life.
Mathilda takes pride in her handwriting.
Maude has softened.
Maura wants to make a splash.
Maureen isnt impressed by talk.
Max spends more time away from his wife.
Maxine is developing a weight problem.
May serves tea to her mothers friends.
Megan winds up with an older man.
Melanie enjoys meeting people she doesnt know.
Melindas husband committed suicide.
Melissa is everyones 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 husbands death.
Miles still limps from a broken leg.
Milton hasnt lost a step.
Minna slaves from dawn to midnight.
Miranda doesnt 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 isnt 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 doesnt 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 whats 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.
Octavias 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.
Oscars 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 isnt as tall as her sisters.
Patricia sells herself short.
Patrick knows hes 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 hes 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.
Phoebes 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.
Priscillas period never became regular.
Prudence is surprisingly offbeat.
Quentin loves someone whos never given him a thought.
Quincy keeps his cool.
Rachel gives people the benefit of the doubt.
Ralph isnt 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 shouldnt be trusted for long.
Reed wants his second wife to be a soprano.
Reginas 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 doesnt 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 hasnt 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 hes frank.
Russell doesnt get enough sleep.
Ruth claims shes 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.
Sauls 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.
Seths 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 daughters house.
Stella makes a guest appearance.
Stephanie was a little girl not so long ago.
Stephen is making steady progress.
Sterling hasnt 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 fathers footsteps.
Tamaras parents fill her friends with envy.
Tara isnt afraid of competing with boys.
Taylor mimicks people perfectly.
Terrence isnt getting better.
Thelma has lung cancer.
Theodore doesnt rush to conclusions.
Theresa can talk forever.
Thomas turns shortness into an advantage.
Tiffany is still meeting few people who interest her.
Timothy hasnt 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 hes 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 peoples 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 whats 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 hes 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 doesnt forgive.
Woodrow has almost laid to rest the doubts about him.
Wyatt doesnt give a damn anymore.
Yvonne is too good to last.
Zachary never got a single break in life.
Zelda doesnt bely her name.
Zoe has her head in the clouds.
Copyright © Mudlark 2004
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