In the town where I grew up
I was put right away into
the smart box, the weird box,
the known quantity box.
I was not expected to be normal.
Still, like every other boy I was schooled
in basic manhood: he who smiles best
smiles least and with a knife.
A man isn’t half a man without
a way and a need to fight; in my case
I got an extra dose of that,
made to live up to warrior codes
that expected me to fight
all the wars my forefathers ever fought,
and in the same old way.
I learned the wrong very well.
I lived the wrong very badly. To this day
I sweat my fright at life each morning
before work. I live by half-measures
just to be safe, just to keep things safe.
Damn the town, the knife,
the history, the basic training
I was born to. I have no sons.
That’s my contribution, the least
I could do to change the world.