Poetry by Paul-John Ramos

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Paul-John Ramos

I see and hear it so rarely nowadays,

I tend to forget.


I am not that old, but I can remember

When names meant something.


You were Johnny or Kate in school,

Not an ID code to hide your other code

From identity thieves.


Your employer actually knew

You existed rather than coming across

Your number in an audit file.


When you visited a business,

The salesperson, banker, or repairman

Actually looked interested in knowing

Who you were.


If you wrote to a politician with a

Question or comment, you would get

An actual answer and your last name

Spelled properly.


We might ask if children should be

Given names anymore with this phenomena

In mind.  Maybe I should blaze

The future with two daughters

Of my own:

‘Good morning, 438167-25.’

‘Morning, 93-1425-006.’

‘Where’s 3685-1247?’  (That’s

her younger sister – notice where the dash

is placed.)

‘She’s helping 57591208-3

put on her necklace.’

Or I can assign them to HTML tags

#daughter1                  #daughter2

Or just call them A and B.


Pardon my sarcasm, but these are

Dire times.  I want my name back.

Everyone wants his or her identity back.

At this rate, even the termites

Will feel selfless and soulless.


But there is no one yet to stop

The madness.  And I find in the mail

Who I truly am:

Dear Customer,

Dear Homeowner,

Dear Subscriber,

Dear Candidate,

Dear Author,

Dear Citizen

(I’d state my bank account number and SSN,

but you never know who’s listening.)


Can’t anyone see

That I’m Paul-John Ramos,

Birthdate 3/11/78,


140 pounds

With a love of Stravinsky, vanilla ice cream,

And Manchester United?


Doubtful with the CPUs blipping

And pulsing, our hearts in a non-human,

Incoherent wave of binary freakdom.


And now, we hope upon the future.


‘G’night 374-168-9971.’

‘G’night 5234341688.’

‘G’night 517w-43.’

G’night  g’night


To Mishima on the Day He Died

Learned friend,

No one could turn a phrase or spill waves

Like you could, but you are now

Out of place.


Your sword shines brilliantly,

Your innards, once conveyer of your thoughts,

Are bathed in the marrow of beauty;

That stomach, after all, once held saki

In gay bars –


But, dear Sage,

Your ideas have become You

And You have been overtaken by automobiles,

Radio, the stock market, and baseball.


Ode to the fatherland,

The great warriors who lurked in thickets –

Now stashing yen as Toyota dealers

And pumping gas on the freeways to Osaka.


About the poet…

Paul-John Ramos’ recent publications include BumbershootHobble Creek Review, Atticus Review, and Mayday.  He was also a finalist of the 2008 Black Lawrence Press Poetry Chapbook Competition.



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