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Men

It’s tough being a guy, having to be gruff
and buff, the strong silent type, having to laugh
it off-- pain, loss, sorrow, betrayal-- or leave in a huff
and say No big deal, take a ride, listen to enough
loud rock-n-roll that it scours out your head, if
not your heart.  Or to be called a fag or a poof
when you love something or someone, scuffing
a shoe across the floor, hiding a smile in a muffler
pulled up nose high, an eyebrow raised for the word quaff
used in casual conversation-- wine, air, oil change at the Jiffy
Lube-- gulping it down, a joke no one gets. It’s rough,
yes, the tie around the neck, the starched white cuffs
too long, too short, frayed, frilled, rolled up.  The self
isn’t an easy quest for a beast with balls, a cock, proof
of something difficult to define or defend.  Chief or chef,
thief or roofer, serf or sheriff, feet on the earth or aloof.
Son, brother, husband, lover, father, they are different
from us, except when they fall or stand alone on a wharf.