“Daddy Beard Owie Face” —New Poem

Daddy Beard Owie Face

says my two-year-old son as I kiss him,
A light peck on his cheek, goodnight.
I am moved by his functional syntax,
unadorned and deliberate.
He captures and mimics at will,
Experimenting with such favorites as
“Airplane hear it!”
“Happy to you Mommy!”
“Papaw mow grass!”
“Bug shoulder!”

He reduces all language to necessity,
A specified code for toddlers,
A primal language more human,
more linked with free association
than an editor’s refined prose.

No time for definite articles;
Sparing only the essential prepositions;
Possessives only employed emphatically;
Pronouns infrequent (but not decommissioned).
Still, some occasions call for
Fully-fledged phrases:
“Look at that bad robot!”

Daddy—a signifier not of personage,
but of whose sandy
Beard—a fascinating facial feature, a dark contrast
against light skin that scratches like an
Owie—the cipher of pain or discomfort
both given by mine and to his own
Face—the location whereupon the bristles have
testified for father’s roughness, a stark contrast
against mother’s soothing breasts.


He is a linguistic genius, I tell myself
As he babbles about, and one day
he will rule the world.
I know this when, after devouring
A quarter of cantaloupe,
He looks me square in the eye,
Mouth dripping, and says,
In his most imperative tone yet,
“Bow to me.”

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