Thursday, June 02, 2005

How Moskowitz was Born


When I picked up
the writer’s pencil at 16
it was really the birth
of something new in
me

so I’d picture
the eventual credits
flashing on the screen
“Teleplay by …”
“Written by…”
with my given name
and after a while
I realized how my name
looked so incongruous
against the backdrop of
Mary Richard’s Minneapolis
or the exterior bar shot that
preceded every episode of
“Cheers”

When I was 19
I wrote a play and
my theatre instructor –
an aging actor who chain smoked
and had flakes
of dryed Brylcreem in his hair-
told me that if I was going
to write a play called
“Illegal Alien” and
use my given surname
that it was going to
prejudice people.

Seems like he made that
decision without even reading
the play.

The name I was born with
so beautiful
so ill-fitting
and unglamorous and real

would condemn me to writing
about bilingualism
affirmative action
the barrio
immigracion

and I figured that
was just about as much
pigeonholing
as I could stomach

and I took a good hard
look at myself

I saw a fat belly
attached to dancing eyes and a
darting mind still
wrapped in guilt and obligation
and ethnic sounds like
“kh” and
“oy” and
“ai”

and I knew of the nirvana
samsara
the logic of law
the comfort of
one God
with one entity

and I liked the name
because it embodied East
and West and Middle East

and it wasn’t clear if it
was male or female
and it was such a strange
mélange

that no one could dare
to presume correctly
to guess my
age
ethnicity
gender
religion

all the categories
that put us apart
from one another
were laid to rest
when I anointed myself

in mechanical pencil and
ink as

Buddah Moskowitz

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