(click individual photos above for captions)
You might be tempted
to believe your worst assumptions, to paint me as a prima donna
It’s natural; on my coldest evenings, those same thoughts blare across my own mind
But before you levy judgment, I would ask to approach the bench
I’m aware that the evidence I’m offering is anecdotal, but in this case,
spoken words are everything
I don’t remember this, of course, but my parents claim
that from the moment the nurse wheeled my bassinet out of the delivery room,
the chorus began
My name, chanted in a tranquil stew of accents and enthusiasm levels
By what means did these strangers discover my identity,
and what forces compelled them to shout it in my face?
Those four words circled relentlessly throughout my infant years
Peers, teachers, librarians, police officers, grocers, mail carriers
Some were strangers, popping into my life for a one-time holler
Others were vital squares in my daily quilt
And the oddest burden?
No one appears to register their behavior as unusual
Even after decades of life as a breathing exclamation,
Only my parents and I have ever noticed
One evening, shortly after my stint in higher education concluded,
An epiphany rang the bell, gift-wrapped, delectable
The curse I’d borne since childhood would never dissipate,
so I resolved to embrace it
If the Universe was so determined to force me into stardom,
who was I to protest?
And so began my climb, from celebrity-around-town
to social media influencer
Over the years, my resentment lightened, and I’m not ashamed to admit
that somewhere in the dark recesses, I might have craved the crowds,
the rattle and hum pursuing
And then he arrived
Imagine watching someone with admiration, with respect for their craft,
and then swooping in to reap the plunder when they’ve finally achieved success?
The impudence! The tawdriness of it all!
And it is not merely my honor—my very legacy—at risk, though that ought to suffice
but the fabric of reality itself
This imposter will be brought to justice
for I am John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
a name I have earned,
and there can be only one
Want to see everything I’ve created in the same place? Because you can do that!