How to be a Man

When I was three years old,

I would berate myself

When sent to my room.

“So stupid! I’m a bad kid!”

My mother wanted to comfort me,

But my father preferred to let me work it out for myself.


When I was seven years old,

I fell off my bike, and shattered my arm.

I cried at first, wailing at my pain,

But “be a man, men don’t cry”

Taught me to shut up.

Apparently men don’t show pain.


When I was ten years old,

I was beat up on the school bus,

My glasses broken and my face bruised.

When I lied and said I broke the glasses,

And my parents learned of the altercation,

I was praised for not complaining, for dealing with it myself.


When I was 17 years old,

My mother glimpsed the scars on my wrist,

That I had hidden for months.

“Why didn’t you tell me??

You shouldn’t bottle things up!”

Well, which is it? Express my pain or suffer in silence?


Now I’m 22 years old,

And I can’t find love,

Girls want more than

The emotional availability of a rock,

And even if she dealt with that,

I’ve forgotten where I hide my feelings, and I can’t feel things back.


If I ever find them,

If I gain the access I’ve lost;

If I ever have a son,

I don’t know how to teach him

How to be a man

Because I haven’t yet figured it out for myself.