‘Boys will be boys is barely a sentence let alone a fucking explanation’
When you were ten, you were still searching for fun
writing poems, drawing patterns in playground dust,
hoping they would someday soon make sense
and tell you how best to be a man.
When you were eleven, a new school building
taught you to put away childish things
to robe yourself Nirvana shirts ripped at the seams,
baggy jeans with safety pins and to buy
a six year supply of acne cream.
When you were twelve you were taught to see
manhood in the scraps of mud and cud
scraped off the studs of football boots.
You’d find it in the blent air; the musk of changing rooms,
where boys let blood rush to their heads but never hearts,
where bodies are put on show, or turned inward
toward the varnished bench you wish you could carve poems into.
When you were thirteen your voice
Became the lead inside a pencil
Just waiting to be broken.
At fourteen you met boys with eyes like open safety pins
they rusted in the rain and couldn’t keep the danger in.
When you were fifteen you were called a virgin,
like your bed’s paper thin linen was an insult
as if your dreams of what your fingers, turned to ships,
would feel like in the harbour of your lover’s hips,
would never be anything more than dreams.
When you were sixteen your masculinity was called into question
because you couldn’t wear it like all the other boys
their skulls deep in the folds of that manhood:
you wanted to wear it looped
in the silver hoop in your ear
or the denim stretched across your skin
tight as snare drum.
Now you’re twenty one, stitching the seams
of those ripped Nirvana t shirts,
spelling your name in the mud from football boots,
seven years left untouched, unmoved.
You at twenty one, writing the poems
you wished you could have carved
in the varnished benches of changing rooms,
You, twenty one, finding fun in the poems and patterns
you made in that playground dust.