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Real Men

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Say it loud in a huff,
shoot off their mouths and heavy guns
drag bloody deer, leave their hearts on the ground.

Real men roll their sleeves up,
a handful of chips, edge of a mouth
dripping with sauce, give you shit.

Real men screw tool boxes down to floors,
put rocks in your hubcaps. lock you in porta johns, tip them over.

Real men call you sissy and bitch,
easy as a fist bump, a punch in the gut at break —
Say, I thought you’ve done this before?
Water break, gas leak, jack hammer between your balls

in some grandma’s basement. Say this breaking is necessary —
flaking concrete, ears and shoulder, burning.
So, when the ground opens, grab a shovel.

Get down on your knees. Keep moving as if this is your religion,
your hands, the cuts and blood,
the men standing above you in hard hats, laughing.
Every man you’ve ever met resembles the father you couldn’t know.

The father, heavy, as the shadows that fall over you,
6 feet of leaning earth, this ditch line, crumbling
into the shape of a body, your body, learning.

— Robert Walicki

Robert Walicki's work has appeared in a number of publications including Vox Populi, Stone Highway Review, The Kentucky Review, 13 Myna Birds and others. A Pushcart and a Best of The Net nominee, Walicki currently has two chapbooks published: A Room Full of Trees (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and The Almost Sound of Snow Falling (Night Ballet Press), which was nominated to the 2016 Poet’s House List of Books in New York City. He lives in Verona. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, a podcast produced by Jan Beatty.


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