dVerse Poets Pub – Haibun – What’s in a Name?

Thursday is Open Link Night at the dVerse Poets Pub. You can submit one original poem of your choice. I am submitting this haibun.  The haiku is the one I wrote for the contest ages ago.  Come join us at dVerse and find your new favorite poet!  http://dversepoets.com/2016/05/26/openlinknight-173/

public domain image

public domain image

What’s in a Name?
The image:. A beautiful woman with dark curly hair and in her arms a pretty daughter with matching hair. Toni Home Permanent. Which twin has the Toni? Toni doll:. Wash! Comb! Curl! Her magic hair! TV in the 1950’s bombarded you with images of perfection (Just like now). My pregnant mother just knew she would give birth to a daughter and because she had naturally beautiful black hair with curls, and her younger sister and her mother and grandmother, so would her daughter. I was born with a headful of black curls and so she named me Toni. I hated this name. Kids sneered. Nyah nyah! You have a boy’s name. Teachers insisted my name was Antonia or Tonia. No one was called Just Toni. I hated the name Tonia. Tonnnnnyuh. Tonia was the perfect little girl in Sunday School with straight hair the color of ripe wheat. Tonia was not the tangle curly haired snaggle toothed glasses wearing changeling – that was Toni.

In school Tonia was well behaved and used a bookmark under the words as she dutifully read – Toni was halfway through the book and always being set in a corner because she didn’t read the right words when called upon. Toni was hard to spell:. Tony, Toney, Tone, Tonie, Tonee, and the middle name…Carol. Before she could get away with not using not telling it. Vicious kids would twist and slur it…Toneeee Currrrl…hey Toneeee Currrrl. Your mother named you after a boy. Four eyed Toneeee Currrrl….nyah nyah

But Toni – when she was six wrote her first haiku. When she was 12, she won second place in the state haiku society contest for adults. She began reading Eliot, Dickinson, Whitman,. Thoreau. And by then she no longer heard the meanness, but ya know? Now? Those knife cuts from long ago still sting. Sometimes in the night when she can’t sleep, she wonders if she will ever write a first place haiku. Will she ever be good enough?  When she moves slowly and deliberately through the sword forms, she wonders if her movements will ever make music in the air. She looks down at the faded Second Place Winner certificate and opens the tattered sheet of paper and still wonders if she will ever be good enough or will she always be the four eyed changeling – always be boynamed Toneee Currrrl.

summer full moon – no
shadows in silver lit yard –
sword slashes through night


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public domain image

25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sanaa Rizvi
    May 26, 2016 @ 15:36:44

    Oh ❤ Toni this is absolutely delightful 😀 thank you for sharing ❤


  2. Linda Kruschke
    May 26, 2016 @ 15:43:34

    I know that 2nd-place feeling. I always — and I mean always — got 2nd place at speech and debate tournaments in high school. I still remember the kid with the TV announcers voice who always took 1st.


  3. ihatepoetry
    May 26, 2016 @ 15:46:46

    I remember Toni Curl and I think you don’t need an award – you’ve already won.


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 26, 2016 @ 15:55:02

    Oh this hurts… the cruelty of kids, and why do parents insist on making it easier for the bullies. I learned one thing late in life. The bullies will invent any reason… and the bullied will always think it’s their fault…


    • kanzensakura
      May 26, 2016 @ 16:02:36

      My poor mother thought she was giving me a cool name, bless her. The first place haiku was written by little old man who wore white linen suits. He lived a few blocks from us with his mother. Poor guy. I’m glad those kids never got hold of him. But it is incredible how still, I feel second rate.


  5. scotthastiepoet
    May 26, 2016 @ 15:55:45

    Delighfully open and invigorating writing – thank you…


  6. B. E. Adalgari
    May 26, 2016 @ 16:11:44

    I am in love with how you juxtaposed the prose and the final haiku in this haibun. What would have been a relatively simple (yet totally gorgeous) piece of natural imagery in isolation takes on so many new meanings having come in the wake of this emotional, honest story about childhood hurts and self-doubt.


    • kanzensakura
      May 27, 2016 @ 10:40:41

      Thank you so very much. I think that is what I truly love about writing haibun – that mix of prose and haiku – best of both worlds. Your words mean much. Thank you.


  7. Grace
    May 26, 2016 @ 17:29:42

    I love your name but I do understand how those childhood taunts and name calling can sting and rankle ~ And being second best, I know the feeling too ~ I admire the personal share and appreciate the haiku line of: summer full moon ~ Keep on sharpening your sword ~

    A lovely haibun, smiles ~


    • kanzensakura
      May 27, 2016 @ 10:39:35

      I think some of those emotions, like feeling second best, in a way sharpens our poetry. And thank you for reminding me. Today is the day to take the sword out and give it a good oiling and wiping!


  8. Ayala
    May 26, 2016 @ 18:25:48

    Delightful !


  9. Walt Wojtanik
    May 26, 2016 @ 19:20:36

    A great backstory, Toni! Joining Grace in Haibun smiles!


  10. thotpurge
    May 26, 2016 @ 20:49:00

    Amazing personal story Toni, I hope the sword is slashing through all of the darkness, doing away with the old scars.


  11. Mish
    May 26, 2016 @ 23:47:04

    Words can leave some nasty scars. There are some that will never leave my mind. Thanks for sharing your personal story. You will always be the Queen of Haiku to me! ♥


  12. MarinaSofia
    May 27, 2016 @ 07:58:17

    I’d have thought Toni was a cool name too – but it’s funny how children in school can make fun about just about everything. Nice bit of reminiscing, and of course the final haikus is perfect, thrilling and chilling!


  13. lillian
    May 27, 2016 @ 08:22:28

    Oh Toni – I’m so glad you posted this. So many comments I could make – two shall suffice.
    * The slashes of taunting, mean words absorbed as a child, can stick with us a long time – even when we’ve grown so far beyond them – in stature and with absolutely beautiful words.
    * I’d forgotten. I had a Toni doll – and she was my most prized possession for quite some time. I thought her beautiful – in name and in her friendship (unconditional) with me – a skinny knob-kneed kid.


    • kanzensakura
      May 27, 2016 @ 10:36:01

      Thank you dear Lillian. When I look back on it, it was about that time my family began calling me “Love” or being good Southerners, they also called me Little Honey. Kids are so cruel at times but yet, I have found as adults, many of them never grew out of that bullying. And that is sad. My mother-in-law, until her son (my husband) told her one day she was just mean. She had been going on and on about several women in her Sunday School class – hair, makeup, clothes…..nit, nit, nit pick. She looked like she had been slapped. But she realized what she had been doing and has (almost) broken that habit. I’m glad you had a Toni Doll! I was THE Toni doll at our house. My husband wisely calls me Sweetheart. I’ll take it!


  14. Bryan Ens
    May 28, 2016 @ 10:54:57

    Sticks and stones may break my bones…but bones heal…but words can hurt forever. Thanks for a glimpse into your past.


  15. Barry D.
    Jun 02, 2016 @ 23:51:05

    Kids can be cruel. Toni is a fine name. Sounds like the name of a fearless rebel. Well-written.


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