A Poem by Serge Pey


A New Name for Newborns


When I was born

my mother gave me a name I didn’t choose

out of all the alphabets

and letters


I’ve carried it around nonstop

I’ve used it as my address my signature

it’s even on my tomb

it’s in the silence of photos people take of me


But as of this morning

I’ve changed my name and address

From now on I’m Charlie

from Charlie Street

like thousands of other men

and dogs

and women and cries

like Alpha Bravo

Charlie Delta Echo

Completely Charlie

Absolutely Charlie


Because my cartridge belt’s loaded

with pens and erasers

for drawing the world’s laughter

that can never be wiped out


And because I’ve got nothing else

and because my mouth

bursts into slivers

like a pane of glass

in a pool of laughs


But let’s be clear

my new name doesn’t yet appear

on infinity’s joke calendar

So I call in the night

and I call on you

to add your saint too

to the list

of the names of light


Because I know

that unknown names

are among us


very still in the silence

most of all the names of those

who cry on birthdays

and death-days

eyes scanning the skies


Won’t you

help me

I want Charlie added to the list

of human spirits

who laugh out of hope


Help me

in this January sun

which is itself a laugh-reservoir

losing drop by drop

the absolute force of its given names

and cries

Today will be the feast of St. Charlie

even for someone like me

who doesn’t believe in any heaven

hidden in the stars

since heaven’s all around us

which is the kind of hope

that makes me laugh


January 9, 2015

(translated from the French by Dan Bellm



(Visited 86 times, 1 visits today)

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    Here is a toast to the Feast of St. Charlie. The laugh for me is that I don’t drink. Cheers anyway and thanks to M. Pey!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *