I Stole My Names



Taylor is an English name

but comes from an old French

word which means “to cut.”

My ancestors aren’t from Europe,

but they were cut from their homes

and sewn into the fabric of a nation

that never saw to tailor to them.

This is my name now.

Nobody can have it.


Mayo can be traced back to the

Battle of Hastings, crest and all.

Bearers of the name landed in Virginia.

I don’t know where my forbearers landed,

but they ended up in North Carolina

where they couldn’t own land,

but where the land owned them.

This is my name now.

Nobody can have it.


Watson means, more or less,

the son of Walter in old German.

I don’t know why he came

to the Carolinas in 1812,

but I doubt he intended for his name

to be worn by the sons of Africa,

least of all free ones.

This is my name now.

Nobody can have it.


Rodgers was the name

of a great soldier who wielded a spear

with admirable skill fighting to defend

their country. I know my family did.

Fighting for their country as

hard as their country fought them.

This is my name now.

Nobody can have it.


Beatty is the name I receive.

A child of Mother Africa born in America

with an Irish first name and Scottish surname.

I’ve met White Beattys before;


They wondered if we were related,

but I think I had a guess.

I feel bad for them though:

the name that we share

is going to be mine.

My ancestors had their names taken,

but the name I was given –

nobody can have it.

Sean Beatty is a poet from Raleigh, NC. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill where he completed an Honors Poetry Thesis. His poems have been published in Burning Jade Magazine and The Daily Drunk. Follow him on Twitter @seanw0ww.