Naming Paradigms 3

I couldn’t call the piece
“Pimpin’ a Nun,”
because that was the punchline of the poem
and I didn’t want to give away the game
right away
so I had to come up with a subtler name,
a name
that suggested the plot
but did not threaten to reveal
any of its dramatic arc.

Where else to look but Broadway?
“Nunsense” provided a sense
of the content
while still leaving the final lines alone
– even though “Pimpin’ a Nun”
was really the best possible name.

Sometimes, circumstances
require that kind of swerve.
One of my first editing jobs in high school
had me title a guy’s story
“Fishing for Pickles,”
despite the fact that it ends with the protagonist
deciding to go off to the lake
and, yes, you guessed it,
fish for pickles.
The writer did not approve
(of course, the writer had written
about fishing for pickles,
so what did his opinion matter?).

I learned my lesson, though.
No longer may a piece be identified
by its O. Henry-like ending.
That just kills the drama.
And that is precisely why
this particular piece
will never be named
“Then I Fucked Your Mom,”
though, to be perfectly honest,
I just did.

About Jonathan Berger

I used to write quite a bit more.
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