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Child Development

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

by Billy Collins

Comments (5)

EDD...I Find no puff of a problem here...Your thoughts are well organized, and the piece is commendably structured...The work flows smooth.Last line is alright, but does throw off the flow slightly.Overall i consider this work meritable craftsmanship.''''''''''''''fjr
I found the poem to be well-written, well-observed and compassionate. The last line is fine. Move on to another poem. This is well-done. Unsentimental, and the imagery is fine.. - Will
erm the poem is alright, apart from the last line. the last line makes it sound funny and i got the impression you were trying to be serious. poetry doesnt have to rhyme. my poet never rhymes as i find it too constricting and lots of people rhyme and i want to be different. try not rhyming and writing your feelings. i talk a little notebook with me everywher i go incase something pops into my head. experiment with different things until you find whats best for you.
As a poem, more Virginia Slim than Gauloise.
Interesting concept Edd - I like your propositions...