My father’s name is Egon,
pronounced egg on.
He grew up in Czechoslovakia
so he pronounces a lot of his words

wrong. I help him with that and in turn
he helps me spell Czechoslovakia.
I’m the only kid in my class who can.
I’m writing it now on the placemat

at the International House of Pancakes.
We’re international, me and Egon,
sitting across from each other in our booth
like nations at the table. A language

is a dialect with an army, so I drill him
in the names of all the syrups
and he drills me in C-z-e-c-h-o-s-l-o-v-a-k-i-a
while we wait for my pancakes and his eggs.

“Egg on your face,” I say to him,
and he reaches for a napkin.
“It’s just an expression,” I explain,
and he asks me what it means. I say

I’m not sure, but whenever I hear it
it makes me think of him. “You have Egon
on your face,” he says. And I patiently
correct him. But he says again, “You have

Egon on your face—you have my nose
and mouth and chin. Egon on your face—
and you can’t wipe him off.”

About the author

Paul Hostovsky's latest book is Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle…

Read the full bio

Issue 24 · Autumn 2021

Table of contents