Lantern Review

Matthew Olzmann

Who can notice the shift from a thing with a thousand legs
to a thing with a thousand and one?
(There’s a difference, and each difference needs a name.)
Frequently, he ran out of names, and entire families
of dinosaurs slid from the globe
before he could tell them what they were.
Goodbye triceratops. Goodbye stegosaurus.
He was told to be more specific; he was told
to be faster and more exact. Word came down
from the boss that simply calling everything
with four legs and whiskers a “cat”
would no longer suffice: Hello clouded leopard;
hello bobcat. Hello Egyptian Mau and Kurilian Bobtail.

I can hardly imagine how he suffered.
I, who can barely keep my checkbook in order,
who can hardly tell the difference
between a Tuesday and Wednesday,
between a new friend and someone
who might leave my body crumpled in an alley,
my wallet missing and my name unknown.
I am not an organized person.
How do you name something when you constantly