• Bulb Culture Collective

In Name Only by James Penha

Updated: Oct 1

In Eden, God granted our species great power

to share dominion and name all the creatures:

that familiarity might breed our

reverence for earth’s diverse vital features.

Since Bliss, this calling has failed to impede

a master’s contempt for beasts, no more than

for common nouns we entitle with need:

the homeless, wretched, poor, and the orphan.

My blink at small hands outstretched on this street

pulls blinds that untie, like twists of a knot,

oversight from overlook, smartly discrete

among objects: a sentence where I allot

the case for the foundling but no Proper Name.

Call a child beggar and I am to blame.


Previously published in Wired Art from Wired Hearts, 1999


Expat New Yorker James Penha (he/him) has lived for the past three decades in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work is widely published in journals and anthologies. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha


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