Dennis Maulsby

TO BE A MAN

I feel for you,
if you’ve never felt like a man,
alive to your potential.

To know the heat of a woman’s
blue-brown-green curious
cat eyes on your neck,
as you stride through a crowd,
the sensuous tickle
of her claws in your mind.

You experience the pleasure
of using sure, callused hands
to measure, cut and assemble,
bringing a creative vision to reality.
Through your builder’s nostrils rush
the satisfying smells
of lumber, metal and concrete.

Under the Big Top,
in harmony with your son,
you join his awestruck laughter,
as the motorcycle man caroms
through a hoop of fire,
a smiling partner
on his spangled shoulders.

Pulsing beneath hairy skin,
male hard-wired instincts
demand you participate in the “Hunt.”
On grassy plains,
scattered along the human time-line,
small groups of comrades
hold sticks tipped with metal,
seeking prey — bison or golf.

On Memorial Day you remember
the funny ones, the smart ones,
the Casanovas,
the rogues and the thieves.
Uniformed men forever bonded
by a drill sergeant’s starched bark
and the Dark Angel’s trauma.
The best of them coughed out
their lives
in half-forgotten places
that still burn in your memory.

To fulfill a final rending duty,
you ease the departure
of a loyal pack-mate and companion.
Old dog’s black and tan body
at rest in your arms,
her gray muzzle
wet with your mourning
The tick of her heart slower, slower…

Yes, I feel for you,
not to understand
the pleasures, obligations
and burdens;
and worse, not to experience them