Here’s what no one says:

It’s hard to be a man these days;

Probably harder not to be,

To be some other identity,

But that’s their story, and good luck

To them, but if we’re about saying

Truths, then this is one, just the same:

When I was born I was slapped

With a father’s name,

But no fathering came to me.

At least none I could see.

The car I could have driven

Remained locked; the golf course

I might have mastered with a steadying

Grip is wintering under ignorance.

I barely know how to drink.

Watching the new Kings of Leon

Video, shot to look resonant of

An age when black and white imagery

Was meaningful, it is hurtful

To sense how little these four white

Men have left, apparently more sober now,

About their business with a parental sense

Something else is more valuable

Than backstage rotgut and upfront groupies.

Maybe. I see men sweating, ageing, growing beards

And bellies, the look of the lockdown,

Not men about town, men whose prowling

Days if not done were curbed by present

Dangers and concerns

That turned the light back on them

As the cause of the accident –

You can’t stroll by as bystander

When your grandpappy raised

The rope up into the strong man-bearing tree.

Why does nature not break to hold

The flailing man whose breath gives out?

Why does the sea not shout, then sink,

All naval and affiliated vessels, think,

That bear that bore, souls, bound for, what?

America: home of rock and roll, the South,

A division line like a sneer;

An ignorance thick as a hungover head;

The grease fat slides, the statues tremble, not

All of them teeter, most remain steady as they go.

No complaint from this quarter;  apolitical

Style is both preservation and blinkered,

But horses do well sometimes unable to know

All that is around, all that surrounds is daunting.

Some days you get up, don’t shave, avoid

Any mirror for shame, pour that early bird

Wild Turkey, and appreciate bourbon is God

In liquid form, providing grace.

It’s difficult to be a man with accidents,

Fears, duties, and an abundance of cop cautions;

It can be ironic to say so, it can be also true.

To shoulder the entirety of evil as it has flowed

Out of Eden up to the door of the lesser times;

To walk in skinny jeans, with a pistol and a limp

In intriguing historic shadows across a stage,

Handsome in rotten decline, vile as corruption set in

On a magnolia tree or in an orange grove, or when

The boll weevil escapades throughout the cotton.

The men who voted, lifted an instrument to kill

Or play, who held their women at the summer balls,

Who screwed Jesus to the wall in the back of a Dodge,

Challengers of charm, hate, we love the aftershave

After-radiation of their culture, their beatings,

The bruises make up our sense of place, our beauties.

I’d die to have you down for a word against my old man

Who threw a punch in his dotage too in pandemonium,

Dustups in brothels, fisticuffs in breweries, romanticised,

But it was the other guy hit the sawdust floor, who died.

It was the other family who cried in a ravaged mirror,

It was us looking at what being white looks like from here.

It looks murky, indignantly blurred, unable to catch a wink

From a snarl, hard to tell if this is sepia or dried rust or blood,

Hard to see what all the fuss was about trying to look good

When we can see right through our estranged visages

Way back to the tobacco, chokeholds, manacles, short-gauges.

It can be true, two things held at once, in the same mind –

The animal can be seriously fucked and when docile, kind –

The civil gent who doffs his gentility to the fine ladies,

Was also your self that night in the alley, kicking shit

Out of god knows what sort of pecker fuck-whit who got

In the path of your holy intention to meander home pissed,

Safe as a swan among his royal glide, brimmed with pride,

Because to be a troubled white man is also a high ride,

Sense of the focus of all art since Oedipus Rex took a wrecking

Bar to balling bad manners in the master bedrooms of sex.

It’s been laser direct, down through the narratives, rhyme,

And now, relinquish bastards of repute, we salute, but step down,

It’s more than past colloquial and official closing time, accept

The Shane saddle slump, ride into the sunset of earned defeat –

Even that privilege you keep, to be the cool dying hero gone,

Or should your heads meet conscious dawn alone, still blind?


March 5, 2021


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