I am to say it with my chest.
I don’t know what it is, so I assume everything.
I am so focused on my chest—bird like and weak with baby lotion still seeping from my pores—that I lose my smile.
I’d better not cry.
If he sees one tear—one tear—he will give me something to cry about.
He doesn’t say what something is, but he says it with his chest. I swallow back my tears and in so doing
I lose my tongue.
I will get my ass kicked if I get my ass kicked.
There is no telling the teacher or coming home
With someone else’s boot print on my chest.
I’d better come home with a scalp or
Not at all.
I should have many girls but no girlfriends.
I should make promises but not keep them.
The right woman will wait for me to catch up.
She’ll go to church so I don’t have to, and I must
Cut her down so she will fit under my feet.
There are no exceptions. If a man stares too long into my eyes I must assert my dominance.
He is a threat. If I feel my heart skip a beat it had better stop before I admit—
Beat it out of him so he doesn’t beat it out of me.
Take what you are and smother it.
Remember the shoulders you stand upon.
They are the narrow, strong, unwavering, unfeeling shoulders
Of Real Men.
Be as you were intended—or not at all.