Graphic by Rachel Hawley

    boys are taught from the start that their dirty hands are badges of honor

    that the mud is the best place for all the games they could think of

    stomachs flat against the dirt, they are trained to crawl under barbed wire

    is it any wonder then,

    those boys grow up to be men, blood mixed with the grime under their fingernails

    praised for skinned knees by their childhood friends, they skin their knuckles searching for that same approval

    boys are bred for violence

    boys are taught that silence is their best defense but at some point, silence becomes trying, and those boys send their feelings to their fists to keep their mouths shut

    men are no strangers to the battlegrounds of emotion, but it is a war that takes place between the palms of their hands and the bar of the bench press, do you think

    if we turned all the feeling in a man into testosterone, he would finally feel at home in his own body?

    when a man stares down his greatest fears, he does not look to his brothers for support

    “every man for himself”

    there is no love lost in this war

    brotherhood is a lost art

    there is no time to speak, bombshells are raining down, and being a man is running through a minefield, every step thick with the hot breath of his enemy on his neck,

    is it his enemy or his brother?

    here, in this rage and confusion, it becomes hard to tell the difference

    how long will this war rage, father?

    how long will masculinity take this beating

    when will the onslaught falter and the raids cease

    when will our soldiers come home, and hug their brothers, their sons, their friends

    when are they allowed to lie in their own beds,

    to cry

    and whisper to the ceiling how glad they are to have made it out alive


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