Image: University of California Libraries.

His identity was stolen and he needed to reclaim it

He hired a mother to reenact his own birth in the hopes he might find his identity

An old man stole his identity and drove away in a Prius  

He hired a mother to reenact his own birth but she did not talk like his mother

A man in Tennessee bought $324 worth of golf equipment with my credit card

When someone steals your identity it is not unreasonable to think it’s a crisis

He rented a baby and a nurse to reenact his own birth and filled a hospital room with flowers

There were charges on his credit card for kitchenware purchased on Amazon

He called Amazon to complain and they referred him to their fraud-detection department

My colleague dresses up as a confederate soldier in order to reenact the Civil War

He owns a confederate frock coat

He owns a confederate sack coat

He owns confederate trousers    shell jackets     vests and caps  

He plays in a Beatles cover band and often these two identities collide

He sings “Strawberry Fields Forever” in a confederate frock coat

Like the other social scientists in my school      he refuses to sign a union membership card

I felt embarrassed and dejected after spending forty minutes trying to get a social scientist who sings “Strawberry Fields Forever” in a confederate frock coat to join the union

But it was easy to get the security guards to join the union  

Last month a boy climbed onto the roof and fell off it

There were no guards on duty to prevent this from happening because they had cut the security budget by 59%

The police report spoke of brain matter by the entrance to the school

Neighborhood kids get drunk and climb to the roof and sometimes they fall

I added an extra layer of security to my email account because I was afraid my colleague would steal my identity

I don’t know how to say no to people  

I gave my friend the password to my cable account so she could watch Showtime and HBO

I didn’t trust her but I couldn’t say no

I didn’t want her to pretend on the internet that she was me

I was afraid she might share my identity with other people

I was afraid that one of these people might sign me up for pornography and sports packages I do not need

He wanted a new identity and at the same time he wanted another crack at his childhood

In elementary school he drank water with lead in it

At home he drank water with lead in it

He believed that lead exposure was responsible for his anxiety and high blood pressure

He believed his mother had lead in her blood during pregnancy

He believed his reduced attention span and anti-social behavior were caused by pre-natal exposure to lead

I’m writing this email with tears in my eyes

I came to London for a short vacation

Unfortunately I was mugged at my hotel

They took all my cash

They took my credit cards

I really need your assistance  

A famous poet sent me this email and I almost sent him $600 in return

I want a new identity because I have dreams that God will abandon me and I will drown in a lead-filled river

I will rot in the river and no one will find me

My eyes and lips and hair and face will rot in the river

And I will be carried away by vultures

To the corporate headquarters of Bank of America

Where my remains will be exchanged for complex financial products

I will be traded for collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities

My body will decompose and I will scream     

I want to slowly earn interest forever    

Daniel Borzutzky

Daniel Borzutzky’s latest poetry collection is Lake Michigan (Pitt Poetry Series, 2018). He is the author of The Performance of Becoming Human (Brooklyn Arts Press), and recipient of the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. His translation of Galo Ghigliotto’s Valdivia (co-im-press) won the American Literary Translators Association's 2017 National Translation Award. He lives in Chicago.